FAREWELL, WINTER SNOW: It seems strange to finally bid the flakes of wintertime goodbye just days ahead of summer's official arrival, but that's what's happening around Reds Meadow and Devils Postpile National Monument. Tucked up high in the Sierra, and not all that far from Mammoth Mountain, the area sees a substantial amount of snowfall each year, so much so that its opening can happen in May or even June. The latter date is the case for 2016, thanks to the impressive and needed precipitation of the 2015-2016 winter season. But the snow clearing is just about done, and soon summer revelers can enjoy both the column-cool Devils Postpile and the waterfall-lush Reds Meadow region, which has been dubbed in some quarters as "Little Yosemite."
LITTLE YOSEMITE... is a sweet title to bear, and it feels natural, thanks to the "crystal-clear streams, sparkling lakes and majestic forests," per the Visit Mammoth people, not to mention a septet of campgrounds. As for Devils Postpile National Monument? It is among the most geometric of natural wonders, thanks to the spectacular columnar basalt (if you're picturing a bunch of drinking straws all lined up, only 60-foot drinking straws that aren't hollow but are made of hard, eons-old basalt, you're in the right visual territory). You won't want to miss Yosemite, as in the actual Yosemite National Park, if you're tooling around the Sierra, but swinging by Reds Meadow to love upon Little Yosemite, and those ancient basalt columns, is a recommended side trip. Or a main trip, if you don't have much time to spare.
OPENING DATE? We got swept away in alpine mountain dreams of streams and natural wonders, as one does, so apologies. Opening date for both destinations is Saturday, June 18.