This Underrated Monument In California Is Basically A Mini Yosemite Without The Crowds

California's Yosemite National Park is undeniably a fantastic place to visit. However, if you plan to travel there during peak season, even the U.S. Department of the Interior agrees you might want to consider a lesser-known alternative if you'd prefer not to fight crowds while attempting to reconnect with nature. Your best bet: Devils Postpile. Those already in the Yosemite area will find this underrated national monument only a few hours away.


Just like travelers sometimes choose the underrated Lassen Volcanic National Park over Yellowstone, you can swap Devils Monument for Yosemite and still have a phenomenal experience. The America the Beautiful National Park Pass includes the national monument, so you won't have to pay extra if you already have it. Given that they share a region, it likely won't surprise you that Devils Postpile boasts some of the same geographical features that bring people to Yosemite from all over the world. It has tall mountains and a truly majestic waterfall like Yosemite, but the strange volcanic rock formation that inspired the monument's name makes the trip worth it, even if you only look at it before hitting the road.


The Devils Postpile and Rainbow Falls

The Devils Postpile looks more like an enormous feat of architecture than a natural structure, but it has stood since the early humans first crafted axes and dug graves. Old Scratch himself might not have forged this fascinating site, but it resulted from the clash of two powerful forces. Tens of thousands of years ago, a lava flow met a glacier, an encounter that produced basalt columns. The rare geological phenomenon resembles tall columns rising into the sky, and from above, it seems to form a honeycomb pattern.


While the Devil's Postpile serves as the highlight of many visits, travelers have acres of wilderness to explore and plenty of other spots to check out. The most gorgeous of these features might be Rainbow Falls. The more than 100-foot tall cascade often lives up to its name thanks to the rainbows that form in the mist from the crashing water.

Hiking the national monument

The Devils Postpile National Monument spans only about 1% of the size of Yosemite National Park, but you still have plenty of hiking trails to enjoy. According to AllTrails, travelers have identified Rainbow Falls via Devils Postpile Trail as the most popular hiking path in Devils Postpile. The tricky trail takes about two hours to complete and includes a lot of trekking uphill. However, those up for a workout will enjoy all the best sights in the area, from the Postpile itself to Rainbow Falls.


If you want an easier hiking option, consider the Devils Postpile Loop. It extends a little over a mile and takes you from the base of the Devils Postpile to the top, where you can admire the honeycomb pattern of the columns from above. If you desire more of a challenge, this park offers that too. National monuments, just like national parks, have trails only experienced hikers should attempt. In this case, that's Devils Postpile Ranger Station to Fern Lake. The almost 10-mile trek takes most people more than five hours to finish but rewards you with astounding views.