Can I Visit Rainbow Falls Now?

Managed by the National Park Service and nestled within the Devils Postpile National Monument area, Rainbow Falls is a stunning 101-foot waterfall. It’s a natural wonder accessible from Mammoth Mountain via a shuttle. This area is usually open to the public from mid-June through mid-October. The friendly folks at ASO Mammoth, your year-round one-stop shop for everything from fishing and hiking gear to mountain biking equipment and Mammoth ski rental, offer more information about visiting this stunning Mammoth-area attraction.

Shuttle Service

You’ll find Rainbow Falls at the end of California Highway SR-203 West. When the monument is open to the public, it’s typically open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, the ranger station operates daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A common way to get here is via the mandatory shuttle. What’s referred to as the Reds Meadow Shuttle Bus departs regularly from the parking lot in the Mammoth ski area from mid-June through the end of September. Tickets for this shuttle can be purchased at the Mammoth Mountain Adventure Center and other on-site ticket outlets. Shuttle prices are as follows:

• $7 for adults
• $4 for children over 3 (FREE For Children under 3) 

Private Cars

You’re also welcome to visit Rainbow Falls in your own car. However, personal vehicle travel is only permitted outside shuttle season, which is why the shuttle service is considered “mandatory” if you opt to come here from Mammoth. You’ll also need to purchase a single-day vehicle pass to drive here yourself. You can also arrive in your own car if you have plans to stay at the Reds Meadow Resort or an official campground. Visitors with private vehicles are permitted to have boats or float tubes secured to the tops of their cars.

Hiking

If you prefer to hike here, the most convenient way to do it is to take the shuttle directly into Devils Postpile. The falls trailhead is accessible from the on-site ranger station here. When you’re done hiking and exploring, take Shuttle 9 back to Mammoth. The Mammoth Rock Trail spans 2.5 miles, or 5 miles round-trip. It’s considered a moderate trail. Altogether, there are more than 8 miles of trails within this area. With hiking, you can take an easy 0.4-mile hike to the base of the Postpile or do the full 2.5-mile hike to the falls.

Things to Do Once You Arrive

Rainbow Falls is so named because of the colorful rainbow created by the mist from the waterfall. If your main goal is to view a rainbow, come around midday, since the sun is highest in the sky at this time, which increases your chances of seeing a rainbow.

After viewing the falls, snapping some selfies, and taking in the natural beauty of the falls and the immediate surroundings, take some time to explore Devils Postpile National Monument. Things to do here include:

• Spotting local wildlife, such as coyotes, black bears, mule deer, and nearly 100 bird species
• Fishing along the San Joaquin River or down from the Soda Springs Meadow if you prefer more secluded fishing
• Exploring the Reds Meadow Valley
• Checking out Minaret Falls

When you head to Mammoth Mountain to enjoy the incredible beauty of Rainbow Falls, make sure to drop by and say hello to the friendly folks at ASO Mammoth. We can hook you up with everything you need for a fantastic experience on the mountain. We’re your top choice for local trail information and top-quality hiking gear as well as ski and snowboard rental in Mammoth, so stop in or give us a call at 760-965-3444.