Mammoth Mountain CA
Situated in Eastern California near the world famous Yosemite National Park, the Mammoth Ski Resort really is, well, Mammoth! A mammoth vertical drop, huge snowfall and the sheer size of the Mammoth Mountain Resort all add up to make this one of the biggest and best ski resorts in California and indeed the US.
Mammoth Mountain CA is a delightful mixed bag. Founded by Dave McCoy back in the 40s and 50s, Mammoth Ski Resort has retained some of its historic charm but you can also be assured of a top class lift system and a modern, well-serviced resort. The nearby town of Mammoth Lakes is refreshingly simple with a small town feel and not a whiff of pretentiousness. Even the celebrities and well-heeled Los Angeles folks that visit on the weekends seem to blend into the low key vibe of the place.
Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort really takes their branding the extra yard, with the resort owned hotels and condos providing guests with towel origami shaped into a mammoth! However the name “Mammoth” has got nothing to do with the ancient woolly elephant-like animals, but rather the Mammoth Mining Co who generated a very short lived gold rush on the mountain in the 1870s.
Mammoth Ski and Snowboard Terrain
The Mammoth Ski Resort terrain is very large with over 3,500 acres (1,416 hectares) of skiing and snowboarding, making it one of the largest ski resorts in California. There is an extensive system of 28 lifts to whisk you up the mountain that includes gondolas, high speed quads, and express 6-pack chair lifts.
Mammoth Mountain CA has a great mix of terrain; novices are catered for with 25% of the trails, whilst intermediates have 40% with lots of well manicured cruisers. Towards the top of the mountain the runs get steeper, and advanced and expert riders are rewarded with steep chutes, mogul runs, bowls and glades. Officially the trail statistics for experienced riders are 20% advanced and 15% expert (double blacks), but of course there’s plenty of off-piste terrain too. The resort is also ideal for park junkies with multiple terrain parks and pipes, including a mega superpipe!
Mammoth Ski Resort is very popular with skiers and snowboarders from LA, Southern California and Las Vegas, in part because it’s closer than the Lake Tahoe ski resorts
. As such, it can get extremely busy on weekends and holidays.
Mammoth Mountain Snow
Mammoth Mountain receives over 400 inches (more than 10 metres!) of California snow every season. Coupled with this massive snowfall, Mammoth also receives a whopping 300+ days of sunshine a year, so if it’s not dumping, you’ll no doubt be enjoying the beautiful California sun. Mammoth also has plenty of snowmaking across 46 trails in case the storms do not roll in for a while.
Mammoth is the highest California ski resort with a top elevation of 11,053 ft (3,368m), and the base elevation is still a very high 7,953 ft (2,424m), so this is a plus for the snow quality. The high elevation also allows for fantastic sweeping views across the Eastern Sierras.
Where is Mammoth Mountain California?
Mammoth Ski Resort sits above the town of Mammoth Lakes in Eastern California, 313 miles (about 500km) north of Los Angeles, and 360 miles west of San Francisco (by road in winter). The drive from LA takes about 6 hours (depending on weather and traffic).
Mammoth Yosemite Airport is the closest airport, only 7.8 miles (12.5km) from the town of Mammoth Lakes. Connecting flights are available from a number of US airports including LAX and San Francisco International airport.
The area is well serviced with free bus transport that connects the various parts of the ski resort, the Village at Mammoth, and the town of Mammoth Lakes.
Mammoth has a little sister in the form of June Mountain
, which is skiable on the same lift pass and is just 20 miles to the north.
Mammoth Mountain Lodging
The Mammoth lodging
is somewhat spread out across different zones. There are a couple of ski-in ski-out hotel and condo properties for those who want a head start on a powder day or the convenience of slopeside accommodation.
Lots of overnight guests stay in the Village at Mammoth in studios, hotel suites and condos. The very pretty pedestrian village houses some of the shopping and restaurants, and there is a free gondola that connects the village to the slopes up at Canyon Lodge.
Other Mammoth lodging can be found down in the town of Mammoth Lakes, where there is a range of affordable motels, hotels and condos.
||Mammoth Mountain Inn
|3-star ski-in/ski out lodge offering hotel rooms & self-contained apartments. Amenities include a restaurant & bar, pool & hot tub complex, fitness centre, ski valet & boot drying, free shuttle service to downtown & car parking...
See all Mammoth Mountain lodging here >>
||Juniper Springs Resort
|4-star ski-in/ski out self-contained 1 & 2 bedroom apartments for 4 - 6 guests. Amenities include a heated pool & hot tub, fitness centre, free shuttle service to downtown, free wifi & free on-site car parking...
Nightlife and Activities
Not surprisingly for a well developed resort, Mammoth has a great range of dining and shopping options. Nightlife is somewhat subdued (on weekdays) and centred around some good restaurants and several bars.
Mammoth offers a range of other activities including snowcat tours, snowmobiling, tubing and cross-country skiing.
Summary of Pros and Cons of a Mammoth Ski Vacation
Pro or Con Depending on Your Perspective
- Mammoth Ski Resort generally gets plenty of snow and the high elevation leads to superior snow conditions compared to the Tahoe ski resorts.
- Many ski resorts claim to cater well to all ability types (and not deliver), whilst Mammoth really does have abundant terrain for everyone (with the exception of daredevils).
- This combined with very good amenities for the kids makes Mammoth rather family friendly. Lodging that is conveniently connected to the slopes is also a bonus.
- The area is very scenic, with beautiful trees and rock features. You can see parts of Mono Lake from the ski area and it’s hard to grow tired of looking at the Minaret Range.
- Mammoth finds the happy balance between being well developed and not too fancy, and it’s quite affordable relative to some of the other high profile US ski resorts that have comparable facilities.
- Mammoth is a haven for terrain park enthusiasts.
- It has a nice long season that goes from early November through to June.
- Mammoth is on the Mountain Collective Pass.
- Mammoth seems a little out of the way to some, but the advantage is that it’s not overrun (on weekdays at least!).
- It is often really windy and a peaceful conversation on the chair lift can be out of the question, that’s of course if the lift is running. However many locals think the wind is very advantageous as it creates wind buff, a “powder maker” that provides lots of fresh tracks in the gullies (of course it means that some other slope has potentially been scoured!).
Ski tours in or near Mammoth Mtn