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White Mountains

White Mountains In Mammoth Lakes The Owens Valley was formed by down faulting about 10 million years ago between the rising Sierra Nevada and lnyo-White Mountains. Despite their simultaneous formation, the ranges look dramatically different. The Sierra Nevada is generally composed of heavily glaciated young granite while the Inyo-White Mountain batholiths is overlaid with some of the oldest sedimentary rock found in California. Fossils nearly 600 million years old are exposed along with a patchwork of metamorphic rock. The area is unique in that the original levels of sedimentary materials have not been transposed by warping and faulting.

The White Mountains are a typical Great Basin range. The range is extensive and uninterrupted. Valley floor and mountain base meet abruptly. The height and ruggedness of the range are not immediately apparent due to its gentle contours. In fact the drop from White Mountain Peak to the Owens Valley is a swift 9700 feet over a distance of only 7 miles. Precipitous western canyons often end abruptly at dry waterfalls while deep canyons and strong rock buttresses dominate the east side of the range.

The White Mountains are in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada that creates a semi-arid climate. Annual precipitation varies from 8 inches on the lower slopes to 20 inches on the peaks. Over 80% of the moisture falls as snow. The remainder comes in isolated summer rain.

TRAILHEAD ELEVATION - 3,700 feet at Owens Valley
HIGHEST ELEVATION - 13,441 Highest in Nevada
SEASON - July through September are usually the best month for hiking in the White Mountains. A warm dry autumn can extend hiking through October, but late season hikers should be prepared for sudden snow storms. Roads are not plowed during winter months; some roads are closed with gates when blocked by snow.

Boundary Peak

Boundary Peak's popularity is due to its status as the highest point in the state of Nevada (13,140 feet). It is located at the northern end of the White Mountains near the California border. Neighboring Montgomery Peak, named for the 19th century mine on its northwest slopes, stands at 13,441 feet and is an additional 2-hour round-trip scramble west of Boundary Peak. The views from both summits are impressive to say the least.

Most hikers climb Boundary from the east side of the range. To reach road's end for the eastside climb, drive from Bishop on U.S. 6. into Nevada and over Montgomery Pass. Approximately 5 miles beyond the junction with Route 360 look for Route 264 to Fish Lake Valley. Turn right on Route 264 and continue for 13.9 miles. Turn right onto an unmarked wide dirt road on the north side of Chiatovich Creek. Follow the main dirt track, taking right forks, for 12.2 miles to a small meadow.

An alternate route to the trailhead is via Trail Canyon. Watch for the sign on Rte. 264. As you drive towards Fish Lake Valley from Highway 6. The use of a 4x4 or high-profile vehicle is recommended on this road.

Allow 5 to 6 hours one way for the 4400+ foot strenuous ascent to the peak., Follow the main canyon to Trail Canyon saddle, then follow the talus-covered ridgeline. After reaching Peak 12,201 continue another thousand feet to Boundary Peak. Montgomery Peak is an hour beyond Boundary Peak.

Gas, water, and limited supplies are available at Benton, Big Pine, and Dyer. Perennial streams shown on topo maps are the only reliable sources of water in the mountains. Filter, boil for at least three minutes, or chemically treat all drinking water .

Please observe the following regulations. Only the conscientious effort of all visitors will preserve the un-marred beauty and wild character of this range.

Dispersed camping is allowed outside of Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest boundaries and developed campgrounds with a campfire permit. The permit is available from field personnel and all ranger stations. To protect the scientific and scenic values of the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, campfires, and all camping and stove use outside of vehicles are prohibited within its designated boundaries.

Vehicle travel is restricted to designated open roads. This restriction applies to mountain bikes as well; tire track scars heal slowly in fragile desert terrain.

These are vital records of the past. Disturbing sites or artifacts destroys these traces of cultural history and is unlawful.


The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is of great importance as it is the oldest forest know. All natural features are protected. No wood, rocks, or plant material may be removed. Each piece of wood, regardless how small, is of great importance in the scientific research of the Bristlecone Pine.

California bighorn sheepThese mountains have maintained most of their pristine character due to the sheer ruggedness of the terrain. Evidence of historic and prehistoric man's use of the area has been found. Vegetation includes creosote, shadscale scrub, big sagebrush, lush riparian areas in most of the canyons on the eastern slope and Pinyon-juniper woodland, bristlecone and limber pine on the higher reaches. Wildlife includes desert bighorn sheep and the Inyo Mountain salamander.

ACCESS: Access the southern boundary via the San Lucas Canyon or Cerro Gordo roads. The west and northern reaches via the Lone Pine-Owenyo and Mazourka Canyon Roads, and the east via Saline Valley Road. A four-wheel drive vehicle and advanced driving and survival skills are suggested.

NONFEDERAL LANDS: Private lands may lie within the wilderness area. Please respect the landowner and do not use these lands without permission.

Bureau of Land Management
Bishop Field Office
785 N. Main Street, Suite E
Bishop, CA 93514


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