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The Devil’s Postpile

The Columnar Basalt Formation at Devil’s Postpile National Monument

The last of the three major destinations of our recent Eastern Sierra road trip was the Devil’s Postpile National Monument near Mammoth Lakes. There are a number of locations around the world where thick lava formations, in cooling, form cliff faces of hexagonal columns. Probably the most famous are the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and the Isle of Staffa in the Scottish Hebrides.

The nearest such formation to me is the Devil’s Postpile. The Monument can be reached primarily by taking a shuttle bus from the Mammoth Mountain ski area to Stop #6, from which there is an easy half-mile hike to the cliff face. The top of the columns looks like this:

What the Columns Look Like from Up Top

We didn’t actually take the hike to the top of the columns, but only because we didn’t want to push ourselves too hard at high altitude.

The hike to the basalt columns follows the San Joaquin River through a pine and juniper forest of surpassing loveliness. In fact we liked the surroundings so much that the columnar basalt formation was almost a letdown considering the lead up to it.

I would like to return in future and extend the hike to Rainbow Falls, which is also in the Monument.