Mammoth Lakes – Mammoth Mountains Ski Area
- Ski Areas: Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain
- Population: 8,234 year-round; 35,000 peak-season weekend
- Road and Weather Conditions: (760) 934-1094
- Snow Report: (760) 934-6166
- Annual Snowfall: 385″
- Ski Season: Late November-May
- Chamber of Commerce: (760) 934-2712
- Average Cost 1-bedroom Apartment: $420
- Lift Ticket Prices:
- Local Newspapers: Mammoth Times, (760) 934-3929; Review Herald, (760) 934-8544
Mammoth Lakes is like an oasis in the desert of central California. Surprisingly, it receives an average of more than 350″ of snow each year. The ski resort is owned by the McCoy family. Dave McCoy first discovered Mammoth around 1935, and set up his portable rope tow on Mammoth’s slopes for the first time in 1936. He operated his portable tow there up until the day Pearl Harbor was attacked. After the war, Dave returned and built permanent rope tows, and installed the first chair lift at Mammoth in 1955. His vision created the resort that is sometimes referred to as the “Condo City of the Sierras.” It is almost as large as Aspen, but it is more difficult to find. Visitors must fly into Mammoth Lakes Airport from surrounding areas in California. Mammoth is 325 miles north of Los Angeles and about 160 miles east of Reno. The town of Mammoth Lakes is only five miles from the base of Mammoth Mountain and forty miles from the eastern entrance of Yosemite National Park.
As Dave McCoy discovered, Mammoth offers world-class downhill skiing. The terrain is equally balanced for beginners, intermediates, and experts, so it is popular with families and die-hards. There are thirty lifts at Mammoth, each presenting the rider with a view of the Inyo National Forest and lake-studded mountains. Mammoth also prides itself on its reputation for dedication to developing ski racers, sponsoring ski races, and offering challenging race courses. Heli-skiing and snowcat skiing are also available. Just a half-hour away, the June Mountain Ski Area has even more skiing and is a center for snowboard competitions.
If it’s within your budget, try a champagne breakfast followed by a hot-air balloon ride. Snowmobile rentals and dogsled rides are also close by.
Summer in Mammoth is ideal for hiking and mountain biking enthusiasts. Visitors come to take part in everything from rock climbing to windsurfing in nearby Mono Lake. Bubbling hot springs in the high country at the Hot Creek Geologic Site are worth a trip.
Other scenic diversions near Mammoth include Devils Postpile National Monument, (209) 565-3341, Rainbow Falls, and the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness Areas, (415) 228-8860.
Most of what Mammoth has to offer is very down-to-earth and affordable. Go to Josh Slocum’s to hang out with ski patrol members and ski instructors. The Yodler is across from the main lodge and has a large TV and a bartender who will concoct anything. For a real California experience, try Nik ‘N Willie’s Take ‘n’ Bake Pizza, home of the s’more dessert pizza (graham crackers, marshmallow, and chocolate). At night, Whiskey Creek is the place to go to scope out other singles. A mellower option is the piano bar Dry Creek Lounge.
Mammoth is 307 miles north of Los Angeles on Highway 395, 168 miles south of Reno on Highway 395, and 320 miles southeast of San Francisco via Highways 80, 50, or 395. Major airlines serve L.A., Reno, and San Francisco.
There are considerable distances between restaurants, bars, and the slopes.
The local shuttle service is good, however, and makes stops along the five miles from town to the mountain base.
There are 8,000 rental units in and around Mammoth Lakes, including lodges, condos, and apartments. Rents are reasonable by resort-area standards. Contact a local realtor or subscribe to a local paper for real estate listings.
Read the information above for Mammoth/June Mountain Ski Area. Visit the Mammoth Mountain website for employment opportunities at both ski areas. The local papers also contain job listings for the area.