WE LOOK TO NATURE... for a lot of delightful design ideas for our own homes and yards. You dig fir trees? You can place one near your front door. You adore the smooth rocks created by a burbling stream? Buy some and fill in the edges of a walkway. Are you all about the wild poppies that pop up in the springtime in some of California's more remote spots? You, too, can be a poppy parent at home. But there are some parts of nature that are best left to nature's watch, which is all to say they cannot be replicated on our own property. Take the wondrous, almost-out-of-Tolkien sight of Devils Postpile National Monument, in the Sierra Nevada. The hundreds of towering basalt columns that make up the "postpile" could never show up next to our patio or pool, in the massive form they're in now, and that is fine: We do love to go visit them right where they are, which is a pinch past Mammoth Mountain.
AND NOW WE CAN, for the road to Devils Postpile and Reds Meadow has opened for the 2019 season. That's right: This is a place that gets a hefty amount of snowfall each winter, and crews clearing the road into the area can and do often work into summer to make it passable for daytrippers and overnighters. There's a shuttle bus that takes most visitors into the gorgeous, Eden-like valley several times daily, so read all you need to know about how to get there. And there's plenty to do, beyond standing agog before Devils Postpile's grandeur, including soaking up the flora and occasionally furry sights of this "Little Yosemite" (indeed, black bears call the area home, in addition to oodles of other amazing animals). Is the mythical Rainbow Falls back there? Oh yes. It's a beaut.
BUT DON'T WAIT TOO LONG, for the window to commune with this colossal feature will close sooner than you can believe. In fact, the Reds Meadow Road typically shutters again around the middle of October, giving you just over three months to enjoy. And do enjoy, for none of us will ever put something like Devils Postpile in our own yards, and that is good. Going to nature to applaud what we see there isn't just half the fun, it's the whole shebang.