About 600 years ago (which is like this morning in geologic time), rising magma encountered groundwater in the Sierra Nevadas, resulting in colossal steam-powered explosions that created a chain of craters. The excitement is over and now it’s safe to hike there.
Inyo Craters Trail is another short hike, mostly uphill. It’s a five mile drive from “downtown” Mammoth Lakes, the last mile of which is on a forest road that has seen better days. This helps keep down the crowds.
The northern of the two craters is larger and filled with trees. The southern one is mostly barren with a brilliant turquoise pool filling the bottom. It’s hard to get a sense of scale, particularly in photos. It would be nice if, like the Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona, there were a mannequin at the bottom. Maybe a taxidermied bear. Or Sasquatch. Or Sasquatch riding a bear.
Besides the natural uniqueness of the craters, there’s another situation I’ve never encountered before. The guard rail has a guard rail.