The Rock Creek area is simply a must-see for anyone who loves the Eastern Sierra, and we make a point to visit every season. Whether camping or staying in cabins, we've viewed it as one of THE places to see Sierra wild flowers during the mid- to late-July bloom. The drainage that includes Little Lakes Valley is not a steep, narrow canyon like many other east-side destinations, but wide and open . . . perfect for viewing -- and photographing -- the spectacular scenery.
The Rock Creek area has two establishments that rent cabins, three if you include Tom's Place adjacent to the 395 and at the entrance to the canyon -- more popular with fishermen targeting Crowley Lake in the valley than folks who want to enjoy the backcountry trails. For years, your high-country cabin choices were either Rock Creek Lakes Resort or Rock Creek Lodge. The Resort has some of the nicest cabins in the Sierras, first rate, but they usually require a minimum week-long stay, and the family dog is not permitted. So for four and five-night stays, it was Rock Creek Lodge. Read some of the reviews before 2007, and see descriptions of what we liked to call the "ghetto cabins," or what the Lodge now markets as "mountain" and "rustic" cabins. They were a bit rough, and often not in the best of repair. (Perhaps the management has gradually made improvements.) But they did the job of putting you and into Rock Creek, and at elevation -- important for aclimating your body for hiking the trails. It was a roof over your head at an affordable price, with a minimal kitchen and functional shower -- not much more. All these older cabins are shown on the cabin map arranged along the lower road -- cabins 5 through 13.
The modern cabins were completed around 2007, and they were a dramatic improvement over the old "ghetto" cabins. We stayed in cabin 16 in 2010 and cabin 14 this past summer. Cabin 16 is actually one of the new designs, with all the modern conveniences, including a microwave. The forced-air heater blasts on like a jet (probably not appreciated by light sleepers), but it does effectively heat the entire interior. The larger cabin 14, while well-maintained, is an older design lacks these modern conveniences, but was probably preserved because of its proximity to the creek and the beautiful view from the living room . . . the large picture windows make it like being in the forest withoug leaving the comforts of indoors. With both cabins, the management earns kudos for stocking the kitchens with durable stainless pots and pans, and utensils that actually work. Too often in these Sierra cabin rentals the kitchenware consists of broken-down junk that looks like it was purchased at a garage sale, and you end up cooking your family meals in pots of oxidized aluminum or flaking teflon coatings. Of course, I always bring my own non-stick teflon pan, as that's asking a lot for a seasonal cabin operator to maintain since some folks just abuse the hell out of this stuff. I also bring my own stemware for enjoyment of quality wines.
We found the staff friendly and helpful. Our first night sleeping on the queen-sized bed in cabin 14 was not too pleasant. Although the mattress was realtively new, the box springs were ancient, very bouncy and too soft. The management was informed, and within an hour two friendly people came in with a brand new box spring, replaced it, and made up the bed anew. From the perspective of my wife, who has a bad back, this pretty much saved the trip.
What's best about Rock Creek Lodge is its location -- right next to the creek, so you can enjoy activities the instant you step out the door. Near the lodge grounds the creek flows peacefully through a meadow before picking up pace and rushing through some boulder-strewn pocket water, so there's a variety of water to challenge the fisherman, with smaller wild brown and brook trout mixed in with the larger stock rainbows. There also runs a well-maintained trail from The Lodge, along larger ponds and lush meadows, then up an escarpment to Rock Creek Lake and The Resort. Take the camera and/or fishing rod, and cap off the climb with a slice of pie at the Pie in the Sky restaurant!
- Also Known As:
- Rock Creek Hotel Mammoth Lakes