Devils Postpile National Monument: Basalt Columns Forged by Lava

From a distance, the basalt columns of Devils Postpile National Monument look like a fortified fence that was constructed to protect an ominous castle. It is hard to believe that the stunning, symmetrical columns and octagonal rocks of Devils Postpile were not built by human hands. Instead, they were forged by a 400-foot deep lake of lava nearly 100,000 years ago. As the lava cooled, striking rock formations took shape in its wake.

Devils postpile

Photo via Wikipedia

Devils Postpile National Monument was once part of Yosemite National Park. The discovery of gold near the beginning of the 20th century threatened to blast the rare rock formations of Devils Postpile off the map. Prominent naturalists such as John Muir fought hard to keep the area protected and pristine. Today, Devils Postpile National Monument serves as a popular gateway to Ansel Adams Wilderness—an area which features some of the most breathtaking undeveloped natural spaces in the world.

Accessing Devils Postpile National Monument requires a shuttle ride from the Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge. A short hike grants travelers a stunning view of a rare and arresting volcanic rock formation which resembles the remnants of a once towering fortress. Be sure to bring sunscreen and plenty of water, because the hike to Devils Postpile doesn’t feature a lot of shade.

A thundering waterfall called Rainbow Falls is visible in the distance. As the name implies, Rainbow Falls features an ever-present vibrant rainbow near its base. Rainbow Falls is the ideal spot to escape nearby Yosemite National Park’s dense crowds.

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls | Photo by rschnaible/Flickr

Devils Postpile National Monument is situated among some of the most widely photographed and celebrated natural spaces on Earth. If you’re eager to retrace John Muir’s footsteps and view some of the world’s most awe-inspiring scenery, the strange and beautiful basalt rocks of Devils Postpile National Monument are an excellent starting point.

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