Mammoth not only describes the area of ski terrain available here but also the huge vertical drop, mammoth amounts of snow (10m per season) and one of the longest seasons we've come across. You can regularly ski into June on this remote Californian mountain. It's the second highest ski peak in the US at 3,369m with 300+ days of sunshine in and amongst the gigantic downpours of snow, making it one of the best resorts in the county if not the country.
Mammoth is large and sprawling with access points split around the mountain. Canyon Lodge has direct access to the slopes and is linked via a gondola to the picturesque Mammoth Village. Eagle Lodge is more on the outskirts but is your access point if you stay at Juniper Springs. The more remote Main Lodge station, is your own mountain retreat. You have Mammoth Mountain Inn as a place to stay if you fancy a more remote holiday away from the centre.
With the biggest social media following in North America, Mammoth takes its branding to a new level. An Instagram page well worthy of a follow and the consistent production of decent videos and snow updates has certainly caught our eye in the past year. Great skiing/boarding on and off the mountain, what more could you ask for?
Skiing in the resort
Due to the weather patterns driving moisture from the Pacific to form storms over the Sierra drenching Mammoth in snow, the season length is an impressive 7 months. It runs from November to May, but this is regularly extended into June and for 2017 well into August due to the sheer amount of snow they received over the winter, 15.6 metres to be exact. Skiing in Mammoth is a delightfully mixed affair. The horse shoe shaped mountain has fantastic terrain for all abilities and the Panorama Gondola is frequented by those who don't ski, just for the views. The 28 lifts are almost entirely high speed and will whisk you around the mountain in no time.
The mountain top slopes are wide and open, they aren't like the European counterparts you may be used to. More areas than pistes and you can choose a different way down every time meaning you could ski the same piste again and again without feeling like you are repeating yourself. The lower slopes meander through the trees into the perfectly groomed greens at the very bottom (25% of the mountain is beginner friendly). Intermediates can navigate the countless cruisy blues through open gladed fields and narrow forest trails you'll have 40% of the mountain just for you.
The upper reaches soar above the trees with a very Alpine-esque feel and the slopes get steeper, plenty of chutes, bowls, moguls and plentiful powder to explore. 20% of the ski area is advanced riding and 15% expert (these are the double diamonds). And there's plenty of off piste to explore besides. There's also an incredible park scene including a super pipe if you're into that sort of thing.
Tip: June mountain is half an hour away and included on the lift pass. It's well worth a day of your stay when the LA crowds come to Mammoth for the weekend. Escape to hoards to this delightfully underused ski area.
Mammoth Village is the hub and prettiest part of the ski area with plenty restaurants and bars to choose from. The Yodler is the slope-side bavarian après hub over at Main Lodge where you can relax on the sun deck with a stein of cold beer or warm up with a hot cocoa. Down in the village, you'll find plenty of happy hour drinks before dinner. Grab some infused sake at Sushi Rei or try a craft concoction from the bewildering drink choice at 53 Kitchen & Cocktails. It's definitely a laid back, low key affair, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. It's a refreshingly simple, small town feel without the pretension of other big name US resorts.
Mammoth Mountain sits above the year round town of Mammoth Lakes, the two are linked via a gondola into Mammoth Village so staying in the village is a convenient place from which to access the mountain. In Eastern California the mountain is sandwiched between San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Reno. You wouldn't drive from San Francisco but from LA or Vegas (direct flights from the UK) it would be a 5 hour drive depending on the weather. Reno is only 3.5 hours but there are no direct flights to here from the UK.
An alternative would be to get a connecting flight into Mammoth Airport from either Los Angeles or San Francisco. Both airports have two daily one hour flights into Mammoth Yosemite Airport, so, if your flight times work out this is by far the easiest and quickest way to get to resort. The mountain is a 15 minute drive away (depending on where you are staying) and there's complimentary shuttle from the airport to the town and properties - no transfer costs, bonus!
What we like
- Genuinely caters magnificently for all levels - adrenaline junkies to park rats to absolute beginners and plenty of cruising in between
- 300 days of sun each year - more likely to get that perfect bluebird day
- Geographical location and lofty elevation means seriously high quality and vast amounts of snow - 10+ metres annually
- Super long ski season from November to May and often into June (extended into August in 2017)
- It's a 5 hour drive to the resort unless you get a connecting internal 1 hour flight - then it's a 15 minute free transfer
- The après is low key but not non-existent. Just don't expect dancing on the table to Europop
- A car can be handy, especially if you want to spend a day on June Mountain or are staying out of the main village - though buses are in operation