Mammoth Lake’s rustic alpine hideaways are perfect for fall

Summer’s hot and crowded days are over, and many of us are looking for relaxing fall getaways in nature. Here’s a tip: cross the Sierra Nevada to Mono County and the Mammoth Lakes region for a big dose of high elevation mountain scenery—think rushing streams, dense forest, tranquil lakes, and fall color.

The eastern Sierra is best visited in the autumn. The crowds are light, the temperatures are cooler, and the region’s aspen forests provide a dazzling, albeit fleeting, display of fall color. (For the most up-to-date information on those hues, as well as a map of where colors are nearing peak display, visit

Overnighting in a rustic cabin and living like a pioneer — 21st century style — is one of the best ways to immerse oneself in Mammoth’s abundant natural splendor.

Mammoth offers a wide range of cabin options, from historic lakeside cabins in the dense woods to more modern tiny homes in mountain meadows. I recently spent two nights at the Alpenhof Lodge near Mammoth Village, and another two nights at the Double Eagle Resort & Spa on the June Lake loop, at the base of 10,908-foot Carson Peak.

After a week of cabin life, I can attest that there is no better place to unwind and immerse yourself in nature than a cozy wooden cabin in the woods. Here are some of the best rustic cabin options in the Mammoth area to try this autumn:

Mammoth Lakes Cabins

We arrived at Mammoth Lake’s Alpine-style Alpenhof Lodge after a leisurely day-long drive from the Bay Area through the Sierra’s dramatically steep and scenic Sonora Pass, which is adorned with an oversized Willkommen in German-style lettering.

We stayed in one of the lodge’s two-bedroom cabins, which are equipped with a small kitchen and fireplace and are located alongside the main lodge in a wooded setting. While not in the woods, the Alpenhof is right across the street from Mammoth Village, where resort-style restaurants, bars, and shops beckon, and a free open-air trolley equipped with a bike trailer can transport you to the world-famous Mammoth Mountain bike park and the spectacular Mammoth Lakes Basin for picnics, fishing, hikes, mountain bike and horseback rides, and refreshing lake swims.

The paved Lakes Basin multi-use path, which winds five miles up into the mountains, is just across the street from the lodge. It’s ideal for walks, runs, and road and mountain biking. (Class 1 e-mountain bikes, which are popular among cyclists, are also permitted on the path.)

The Alpenhof’s lively Clocktower cellar bar, with its multiple craft brew taps and whiskey selection, is a local favorite, as is Petra’s, an excellent bistro and wine bar. Details can be found at

Mammoth Mountain Chalets, located directly next to the Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge, has numerous hiking and biking trails right outside your door, and a nearby shuttle takes visitors to Reds Meadow and Yosemite National Park. Each cabin has its own deck as well as a wood-burning stove. for more information.

Tamarack Lodge and Resort is the grand dame of Mammoth Lakes Basin, with cabins and a rustic main lodge on the shores of pristine Twin Lakes. For decades, visitors have been drawn to its popular, upscale Lakefront Restaurant. has more information.

The Mammoth area also has a number of rustic, historic lodges. Crystal Crag Lodge, located at 9,000 feet on the shores of Lake Mary, has drawn visitors for nearly a century. This is due in large part to the lodge’s spectacular setting, which includes a trout-filled lake, pure mountain air, and countless tree-lined hiking and biking trails on the edge of the High Sierra backcountry. These rustic cabins are extremely popular and are frequently booked a year in advance. has more information.

Lakeside cottages with full kitchens, bathrooms, and spacious sun decks with barbecues are available at the Wildyrie Lodge on Lake Mamie. Wildyrie was one of the first hunting and fishing lodges in the Eastern Sierra, built in 1928. It also functioned as a post office and a general store. has more information.

Lake George’s Woods Lodge has rustic cabins with full kitchens and fireplaces, and many have spectacular views of the surrounding scenery. Details can be found at

Sierra Meadows Ranch, located on the outskirts of town, offers tiny home-style cabins with one bedroom and one bath. Each cabin has a fully equipped kitchen, a living room, and a private bedroom with a queen bed, bunk beds, and a sleeper sofa. More information is available at

Convict Lake’s cabins are located just south of Mammoth Lakes and are named after local fish species and landmarks. This is one of the best places in the area to see lakeside fall color. has more information.

June Lake Cabins

The Double Eagle Resort & Spa is only 12 miles from Yosemite National Park’s eastern entrance and 22 miles northeast of Mammoth Lakes. In an aspen and pine forest, the resort’s 16 cabins offer charming, rustic luxury.

Many are situated at the base of Carson Peak, a steep-sided Sierra edifice of almost surreal beauty, with a trout-filled pond and a rushing creek. When I was there, Horsetail Falls, perched halfway up the peak, was a torrent of snowmelt pouring like a burst water main out of a granite wall. The grounds are decorated with wagon wheels and old mining equipment, and there is also a spa, an indoor pool, and the excellent Eagle’s Landing restaurant. Details can be found at

The dining experience

Restaurants are available on the grounds of Alpenhof Lodge, Tamarack Lodge, Double Eagle Resort, and Sierra Meadows Ranch. You might also want to try one of Mammoth Lakes’ many excellent restaurants and brewpubs. Here are a few ideas:

The spacious Mammoth Brewing Company brewery and pub, located at the busy intersection of Minaret and Lake Mary Road, offers a diverse menu that includes ale-battered fish and chips, barbecue chicken flatbread pizzas, crispy chicken and jalapeno griddle cakes, hearty pub salads, and fried chicken sandwiches with sriracha cabbage slaw. Visit for more information and the menu.

Dos Alas Cafe & Lounge specializes in “Cubarican” dishes like roasted garlic pork and ham and cheese sandwiches, as well as Spanish pollo en escabeche (pickled chicken). Sierra Meadows Ranch is where you’ll find it. has more information and a menu.

In Mammoth Lakes, the Warming Hut serves classic comfort food in an open-air setting. For breakfast, try the Chicken n’ Waffle, for lunch, the Cubano sandwich, and for dinner, the flatiron steak. View the menu at

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