Devils Postpile National Monument
OVERVIEW: Front side of brochure
The front side of the brochure includes text and four color photographs depicting natural features within Devils Postpile National Monument. The text begins by welcoming visitors, providing brief orientation information. It continues, describing both the administrative history of the national monument and the geological processes that created Devils Postpile and Rainbow Falls.
OVERVIEW: Devils Postpile National Monument
Devils Postpile National Monument, located in California, is part of the National Park Service, within the Department of the Interior. The 800 acre park is situated 12 miles west of the town of Mammoth Lakes and the Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort. This park, established in 1911, is the oldest national monument in the Eastern Sierra. Each year, approximately 140,000 visitors come to enjoy the unique experiences that only can be had at Devils Postpile. We invite you to explore the park and enjoy the many opportunities for recreation. Feel the hexagonal columns at the top of Devils Postpile. Take a hike and hear the crunch of pine needles underfoot. Listen to the call of hawks or the chirp of chipmunks. For those seeking to learn more about the park during their visit, a tactile map of the region can be found at the Ranger Station. To find out more about what resources might be available or to contact the park directly, visit the "Accessibility" and "More Information" sections at the end of this audio-described brochure.
OVERVIEW: This Audio-Described Brochure
Welcome to the audio-described version of Devils Postpile National Monument's official print brochure. Through text and audio descriptions of photos, illustrations, and maps, this version interprets the two-sided color brochure that Devils Postpile visitors receive. The brochure explores the history of the park, some of its highlights, and information for planning your visit. This audio version lasts about 16 minutes which we have divided into 29 sections, as a way to improve the listening experience. Sections 1 to 12 cover the front of the brochure and include an introduction and history of the formations found in Devils Postpile National Park. Sections 13 to 29 cover the back of the brochure, which consists of general visitor information, directions to Devils Postpile National Monument and an overview map of the park area.
Outstanding Formation of Columnar Basalt
IMAGES: Photos of Devils Postpile's Basalt Columns
Left: As basalt lava erupts from volcanic vents and cools, it shrinks and then cracks. Sometimes vertical columns will form. These well-developed columns formed as homogenous lava cooled at a uniform rate.
National Park Service
Devils Postpile ( a unique rock formation composed of hexagonal basalt columns ) rises towards a blue sky in this small photo. It dominates the surrounding environment. The sun casts shadows across its columns, creating an alternating pattern of darkness and light. Although the stone appears cold and bare, discreet signs of life cling to it. Lichen grows in isolated patches, conveying a sense of ancient stillness and passing time .From the top of the formation, a single small shrub peers towards the valley below. Beyond the formation, the remote and rugged terrain of the Sierra Nevada fades into the distance.
Right: Column tops were polished by past glaciers, as this photo shows. The Devils Postpile columns have from three to seven sides.
In this large photo, multiple hexagonal rocks merge into one uniform surface at the top of Devils Postpile. The resulting pattern possesses such order and intention that it appears as if forged from human hands.The border of the photo traces the outer edges of the hexagonal rocks, making a geometric and jagged shape. Despite their connection, the stones remain diverse and distinct in texture and color. Some stones are smooth and polished while others are rough and rigid. Some stones are gray while others shine and shimmer. Some have flaky depressions while others remain intact. Scratches and gouges move in parallel lines across the rock surface, a reminder of the destruction caused by glacial ice many years ago.
Above: The 60-foot-high sheer wall was exposed during the last glaciation
Illuminated by the setting summer sun, Devils Postpile towers above a shaded slope of rocky debris in this large photo. A sheer sixty-foot wall of large hexagonal stone pillars looms above the scene, bathed in glowing light. Bright patches of yellow lichen cling to the surface of the columns. The wall is strong and timeless yet delicate and vulnerable, balancing gently on column after column. Massive broken remains of former columns collect below the wall, creating a treacherous field of destroyed stone rubble. Imposing in size and stature, the wall dwarfs its surroundings. Even the Lodgepole and Jeffrey Pines, growing atop the formation, appear distant and small. A group of green shrubs emerge at the base of the wall, with nothing but stone for company.
Welcome to Devils Postpile
TEXT: Welcome to Devils Postpile
Devils Postpile National Monument rests along the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River on the Sierra Nevada’s western slope (elevation 7,560 feet). The 800-acre monument preserves the columnar basalt formation, Devils Postpile, and 101-foot Rainbow Falls.
Originally part of Yosemite National Park, Devils Postpile lost its protective status in 1905 with pressure from local mining interests. They planned to dynamite the postpile to make a rock dam on the river. This threatened not only the postpile formation and falls but this vital watershed. Activists persuaded President William Howard Taft to restore federal protection to Devils Postpile and Rainbow Falls by proclaiming the national monument in 1911. In 1984 Congress included 687 acres of the park in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. The long-distance John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail traverse the park.
Beauty From Fire and Ice
TEXT: A Volcanic Event
About 82,000 years ago, basalt lava flowed here from an unknown source. This particular lava flow was ideal for column formation: It was thick with a consistent mineral composition, and it cooled slowly and evenly. As the lava cooled it contracted and split into the symmetrical, vertical, hexagonal columns that constitute Devils Postpile.
TEXT: A Glacial Event
Some 20,000 to 12,000 years ago a glacier flowed down the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River and overrode the fractured mass of lava. The moving ice carved away one side of the postpile, exposing a sheer wall of columns 60 feet high. Erosion and earthquakes later felled many columns that now lie fragmented on the talus slope below the postpile.
Hiking atop Devils Postpile reveals a cross section of glacially polished columns that look like floor tiles (above)—with parallel grooves cut in them by rock-studded glacial ice.
TEXT AND IMAGE: Rainbow Falls
The Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River plunges 101 feet over a cliff of volcanic rock. When the sun is overhead on a clear day, rainbows sparkle in the mist rising from rocks below the falls.
Glaciers widened the canyon but did not create Rainbow Falls. The two layers of volcanic rock you see in the cliffs are similar but with an important difference: they are composed of the same lava but they cooled at different rates. On top is the harder, more erosion-resistant rock. Below is the softer, less erosion-resistant rock. Water cascading over the falls wears away the lower, softer rock faster, undercutting the stronger rock and creating an alcove beneath it. As the stronger rock loses support, it caves in and breaks apart into the boulders and rock debris at the bottom of the falls.
Rainbow Falls, a 101 foot waterfall on the Upper Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River, plunges from a rocky cliff towards the canyon below. The falling water is momentarily graceful and free, only to crash and disperse into a misty white cloud. From this watery chaos, a bright rainbow emerges, stretching across the foreground of the image. At the base of the waterfall, earth sloping towards the river is green and lush with grassy vegetation. Yet, above the rocky cliff, the forest floor is barren and dry. Beyond the waterfall, a forest of Lodgepole Pine stretches to the horizon, until sky and trees eventually become one.
OVERVIEW: Back Side of Brochure
The back side of the brochure is comprised of text, two maps, and two color photographs. The upper third of the brochure provides information regarding the shuttle bus system, ranger station, hiking trails, and park regulations. Additionally, a small regional map is included within the upper third of the brochure. The remaining bottom two thirds of the brochure are covered by a large and detailed wayfinding map of Devils Postpile National Monument. This map lists amenities and services as well as key destinations within the park.
Exploring Devils Postpile
TEXT: Exploring Devils Postpile
Devils Postpile National Monument is usually open mid-June to mid-October and closed in winter. For information, call or check the park website.
TEXT: Shuttle Bus
From mid-June into September day-use visitors and backpackers going to Devils Postpile and Reds Meadow must ride the shuttle bus (large map below). Buy tickets and board buses at Mammoth Mountain Adventure Center. For schedules, fees, and other information, call or visit the park website.
TEXT AND MAP: Large Map of Devils Postpile
Two federal agencies work as partners to manage public lands in this area. The National Park Service oversees the 800-acre Devils Postpile National Monument, while the U S Forest Service manages the lands surrounding the monument. Both agencies are also responsible for wilderness areas. Monuments, forests, and wilderness areas may have different rules that reflect their different goals. Check with a ranger to find out what activities are permitted in different areas.
Agnew Meadows Campground, Group Campground, Horse Campground, Trailheads for Pacific Crest Trail and River Trial
National Park Service
This map provides basic wayfinding and topographical information for visitors navigating major points of interest within the Upper Middle Fork of the San Joaquin Valley. The map includes three separate public lands: Devils Postpile National Monument, the Ansel Adams Wilderness Area, and the Inyo National Forest. It also includes the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area Main Lodge, which is the parking area and launching point for the Reds Meadow Shuttle.
Devils Postpile National Monument comprises 1.25 square miles. It is marked by a narrow green rectangle, arranged vertically within the bottom left section of the map. A small section of the 362 square mile Ansel Adams wilderness area borders Devils Postpile National Monument on the left side. The Inyo National Forest is above and to the right of Devils Postpile, occupying roughly 75% of the map. The Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge is located in the upper right section of the map. The map is orientated with north at the top and represents numerous natural features, including unique rock formations, lakes, forests, and mountains. It depicts amenities such as ranger stations, telephones, pack stations, food service, campgrounds, general stores and hiking trails. The only ranger station is located within Devils Postpile National Monument. A single dead end road gently waves up the center of the map, before turning sharply towards the upper right section. A series of 10 shuttle stops are situated equidistant along the road.
A note describes the organizational cooperation between the United States Forest Service and the National Park Service as well as trail distances in miles. There is a small tactile map available.
The legend, located in the upper right corner of the map, has symbols for amenities, wayfinding, and administrative jurisdiction. Amenities symbols include a. shuttle bus stop (symbol red circle) b. ranger station (symbol house) c.telephone (symbol phone handset) d. pack station (symbol horse and rider) e. food service (symbol knife and fork) f. campground (symbol black tent) g. store (symbol bottle and apple). Wayfinding symbols include a. shuttle bus route / fee road (symbol solid red line) b. unpaved road (symbol solid white line) c. John Muir and Pacific Crest Trails (symbol green dashed line) d. Other hiking trails (symbol dotted black line) c. national park service property (symbol green shaded area) e. U.S. forest service property (symbol gray shaded area).
Amenities listed by location. Amenities will be listed by location counterclockwise starting at the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area .
Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge (located in the upper right section of the map) - Reds Meadow shuttle ticket booth, shuttle bus parking, drinking water, restrooms, store, restaurant, food and lodging. These amenities are provided by the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and are not affiliated with the National Park Service.
Minaret Vista Station (USFS and NPS) (located in the upper right section of the map) - general information, fee collection, federal land pass purchasing, campground availability, weather
Agnew Meadows (located in the upper left section of the map) - pack station and coral, campground, group campground, horse campground, trailheads for Pacific Crest Trail and River Trail, restrooms, interpretive trail (the wildflower trail)
Upper Soda Springs - campground
Pumice Flat - campground, telephone
Pumice Flat Group Campground - campground
Minaret Falls - campground
NPS Campground at Devils Postpile National Monument - campground
Ranger Station - wheelchair accessible, water, telephone, restrooms, information
Reds Meadow - campground
Reds Meadow Resort - Food service, pack station, telephone ,store, information, water, restrooms, shower
Roadways and Trails
A single, one-lane, dead end road connects the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area to the Upper Middle Fork of the San Joaquin Valley. The road starts in the upper right section of the map (in the Inyo National Forest) and moves north-east as it descends into the valley for a short distance. It then reaches a sharp, 180 degree turn in the upper center of the map and continues southbound in a gently waving line toward the lower center of the map until it ends at Reds Meadow Resort. Ten different shuttle stops are spaced, equidistant, along the road. Shuttle stop 1 is Agnew Meadows, located along the sharp 180 degree turn in the upper center of the map. Shuttle stop 2 is Starkweather Lake, a small oval shaped lake on the left side of the road in the upper - center of the map. Shuttle stop 3 is Upper Soda Springs Campground, located in the mid-center of the map. Shuttle stop 4 is Pumice Flat Group Campground, located precisely in the middle of the map. Shuttle stop 5 is Minaret Falls Campground, located below and to the left of Pumice Flat Campground. Shuttle Stop 6 is Devils Postpile National Monument, located slightly off the arterial road on a small, one way spur. Shuttle stop 7 is Sotcher Lake, a modestly sized alpine lake, located below and to the right of Devils Postpile National Monument. Shuttle Stop 8 is Reds Meadow Campground, located directly below Sotcher Lake. Shuttle Stop 9 is the Rainbow Falls Trailhead, located directly blow Reds Meadow Campground. Shuttle Stop 10 is Reds Meadow Resort, to the right of the Rainbow Falls Trailhead. All shuttle stops, except stop 6, are within the Inyo National Forest.
One-way trail distances (in miles) are listed to the left of the legend (in the upper right section of the map) The Ranger Station to Devils Postpile is 0.4 miles. The Ranger Station to Rainbow Falls is 2.5 miles. The Ranger Station to Minaret Falls is 1.5 miles. The Ranger Station to Reds Meadow Campground is 1.2 miles. The Ranger Station to Rainbow Falls, the to Shuttle Bus Stop at Rainbow Falls Trailhead is 3.8 miles. From the Rainbow Falls Trailhead to Rainbow Falls is 1.3 miles.
The John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail cross the entirety of the map, from the bottom right corner to the upper left corner. At the bottom right corner of the map, the John Muir and Pacific Crest Trail are the same trail. They remain the same trail as they pass through Devils Postpile National Monument in the bottom left section of the map. Just above Devils Postpile National Monument, the trails split. The Pacific Crest Trail moves northward to the right while the John Muir Trail moves northward to the left.
The Upper Middle Fork of the San Joaquin Valley is remote and mountainous. The valley floor is roughly 7,560 feet above sea level, while the valley walls are 9,175 feet above sea level. All of the valley is on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Range. The access road that begins at Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge crosses over the San Jaoquin Ridge, which divides the eastern sierra from the west.
TEXT: Ranger Station
Park rangers give interpretive programs, answer questions, help plan your visit, and enforce regulations.
TEXT: Hiking Trails
See trail distances on map. Hike west on the King Creek Trail or north-south on the John Muir and Pacific Crest trails. The 211-mile-long John Muir Trail links Yosemite with Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, with access at Rainbow Falls trailhead and the ranger station. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail goes from Canada to Mexico. For wilderness permits contact Inyo National Forest: 760-873-2483. Backpackers must use the shuttle—racks hold backpacks—or walk.
A 21-site campground near the ranger station is open mid-June–September, weather permitting. Bear-proof food storage lockers are provided (see bear warning). No reservations, hookups, or showers.
Fishing in the national monument requires a California fishing license for persons age 16 or older. Hunting is prohibited.
Pets are allowed on all park trails and in the campground. Pets must be leashed and under direct physical control at all times.
Bicycles are permitted on roads but prohibited on all trails or crosscountry.
TEXT: Bear Aware!
Bears live here. Federal law requires proper food storage. Ask for details.
TEXT: For a Safe Visit
Stay on designated trails. • Stay back from cliff and gorge edges; falls can be fatal. • Snowmobiling prohibited. • Climbing on the postpile formation prohibited. • Federal laws protect all natural and cultural features. Do not remove or disturb plants, rocks, or animals. • For all regulations, including firearms policy, check our website.
IMAGES: Photos of Devils Postpile's Animals and Flowers
Belding ground squirrel
Copyright by Dennis Flaherty
In this photo a Belding Ground Squirrel (a small mountain mammal) rests on hind legs to survey the surrounding meadow. It is alert, gazing across the scene into the distance. Two small hands fold from the torso to a plump belly. The soft golden fur helps disguise the squirrel amongst the meadow and fading light. Despite standing, the squirrel remains shorter than the clusters of grass nearby.
Copyright by Dennis Flaherty
In this photo, a single Sierra Shooting Star (a small alpine wildflower) leans under the weight of morning dew. Four bent, triangle shaped, petals in soft pink protrude from a slim, green, and hairy stem. Violet anthers, the pollen carrying component of the flower, emerge from the petals. The flower hangs with a delicate elegance.
MAP: Map of Communities Surrounding Devils Postpile
Devils Postpile National Monument
National Park Service
This small map is one of two maps on the Devils Postpile National Monument Brochure. It is untitled and represents destinations surrounding Devils Postpile National Monument. The map primarily shows wayfinding information, specifically, nearby national parks or communities and the roadways that connect them. The map is square in shape and oriented with north at the top. It represents the Southern Sierra Nevada range and foothills, measuring approximately 140 square miles within the states of California and Nevada. Devils Postpile National Monument is located within the upper left section of the map, along highway 203, to the left of the town of Mammoth Lakes. There is no tactile map available of this area.
Three other public lands are featured on this map: Yosemite National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, and Sequoia National Park. Yosemite National Park is located in the upper left section of the map, northwest of Devils Postpile National Monument. Kings Canyon National Park is located in the lower right section of the map, southeast of Devils Postpile National Monument. Sequoia National Park is located in the lower right corner of the map, southeast of Devils Postpile National Monument.
Communities featured on the map include Mammoth Lakes, Bishop, Big Pine, Independence, Lone Pine, Three Rivers, Visalia, and Fresno. Mammoth Lakes is located in the upper left section, to the right of Devil's Postpile National Monument. Moving clockwise across the map, the towns of Bishop and Big Pine are located in the upper right section. The towns of Independence, Lone Pine, and Three Rivers are located in the lower right section. Visalia is located in the lower left section of the map, on the Western slope of the Sierra Nevada range.
We strive to make our facilities, programs, and services accessible to all. Audio guides, braille brochures, tactile maps, and assisted listening devices are available at the ranger station. For information about our services, please ask a park ranger, call, or check the park website.
OVERVIEW: More Information
Devils Postpile National Monument is one of over 400 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks visit www.nps.gov.
Devils Postpile National Monument
P O Box 3999 Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546