shady rest in mammoth lakes

Shady Rest is a lot of things. There’s the New Shady Rest Campground , the Old Shady Rest Campground, Shady Rest Park, a hand cycling path, a chill skateboard park (the “real” Volcom Brothers one is over near the 203), a soccer field, volley ball courts, and the playground. And that’s just for the non-snow conditions. Hell, there’s even a local band named The Shady Rest.


Interestingly enough, the sprawling mega-forest-apolis of Shady Rest is also where some of the service sector employees live.

There are also people who work full-time and are homeless, unable to afford the exorbitant rents on service sector wages. There are stories of people staying in a tent for the summer to save enough money to afford a roof and walls for the winter.

Housing is pricey, and Mammoth is no exception. With the winter conditions you really need a roof and heat otherwise you’ll just straight up die out there.

Shady Rest Park. Playground dead center, soccer fields cut off to the right, and volleyball behind the camera.

On the way in I spotted a few dirt roads that seemed to go “somewhere”, so since I had some hours to kill and the children were strapped in their carseats and unable to offer alternative suggestions, down the dirt road I went.

I spotted markers for the Mammoth Scenic Loop, and then ended up driving around the backwoods until I saw another marker for “Mammoth to June” which made me happy because I had heard rumors that there was a 4×4 route connecting the two towns.


So along we plodded, bounced, and slid through sand, scree, and hard pack. For anyone interested in the route, I’m rocking a mid 90’s Toyota Land Cruiser. Stock (new) suspension, KO-2 tires, and didn’t have to lock the differential once although I was fingering it a few times. I think any vehicle with high clearance and dirt tires could make this route happen.

So it was with much surprise that thirty minutes later I found myself on Minaret Road, up near the Main Lodge. Undaunted, I remembered the Earthquake Fault Park which is actually not really a fault at all. Instead it’s a ~60 deep fissure blasted open during volcanic activity not that long ago:

The fissure opened around 550 to 650 years ago, during a time of intense volcanic activity that included steam blasts at Inyo Craters and eruptions at Deadman, Obsidian, and Glass Creek domes. Early pioneers collected ice here in summertime for the making of ice cream.

My two intrepid children near the epic abyss down into the spooky core of the earth where the lizard people live.

And with all of that, we still managed to get back to town before noon. So thanks, Mammoth Lakes. I still haven’t figured out the mysterious 4×4 network, but I had a morning that reminded me of why we moved up here. A gorgeous town, things to do everywhere, and natural features that remind us just how powerful this planet is that we call home.