From gentle, well-groomed trails and open bowls to tree skiing and adrenaline-pumping chutes, gullies and super pipes, Mammoth Mountain is known for its variety.
And it’s all set on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range with direct flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles With an average snowfall of 400 inches (plus snow-making across 700 acres), the ski season on Mammoth Mountain (an Ikon Pass destination) has been known to stretch all the way into July – making it the winter resort with the longest season in California.
There are 150 trails on Mammoth, accessed by three gondolas, three surface lifts, two high-speed sixes, seven triples and nine high-speed quads. The resort’s Unbound Terrain Parks covers Forest Trail, South Park and Transition Park, with more than 100 jibs, three half-pipes and up to 50 jumps. Night skiing is not offered at Mammoth Mountain.
Equipment rentals are available in the Canyon, Eagle and Main Lodges on the Base, as well as Mammoth Center and Mountain Sports in the Village. Other rental operations can be found in the town of Mammoth, and some hotels like Mammoth Mountain Inn and Juniper Springs Resort also have rental shops. The resort offers classes and camps for both kids and adults, as well as private lessons and guides. A volunteer-run Adaptive Ski School has specialized skiing instruction and adaptive equipment for children and adults with disabilities. For those wanting to take a break from skiing, Woolly’s Tube Park has six groomed lanes for tubing and sledding and a snow play area for the family.
Coming off the lifts, dining options are everywhere, from brick oven pizzas and a salad station at Broadway Marketplace in the Main Lodge to hearty soups and grilled cheese sandwiches at The Outpost on the backside of the mountain. There are slope-side lodging options on Mammoth Mountain, and plenty of hotel options in the town of Mammoth.
On average, the season runs from the first week in November into the beginning of June. Peak conditions at the resort are in January and February, though this is weather dependent. For some, there is also the thrill of skiing on July 4th, which has been known to happen on Mammoth.
Ticket prices – cheaper online and in advance – start at $159 for an adult; $64 for a child and $130 for a senior. Kids 4 and under and seniors 80-plus ski for free. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 1-800-MAMMOTH. Packages include a multi-day ticket option and a lift/lodging package that can save you 20 percent if you bundle the two reservations.
Mammoth Mountain has a nice variety of trails, with 25 percent of runs designed for beginners, 40 percent meant for intermediate-level skiers and 35 percent reserved for advanced and expert skiers. Here are the best Mammoth Mountain trails for each skill level, according to resort staff.
An especially great beginner trail with a very user friendly lift is over at Canyon Lodge known as School Yard. The School Yard Express provides access to a welcoming wide, open run for a person’s first turns on skis or a snowboard. Spring Canyon down to School Yard gives not only a great mellow pitch but starts off protected in tall trees and then funnels to a much wider open area which is perfect for progression and linking those first turns. Others include Sesame Street for ease of access at Main Lodge and low ride time on Discovery Chair.
Most locals’ personal favorite intermediate run is a good long lap out of Main Lodge by going up to Face Lift Express and riding the Saddle Bowl all the way down to Broadway. The corduroy is usually some of the best on the mountain and the perfect warm up for the day. Others include Stump Alley and Roller Coaster for their long consistent pitch.
Pretty much a go to classic Mammoth expert run would be Dave’s Run. It’s named after Mammoth’s founder Dave McCoy, and it sums up a whole lot of what Mammoth is all about: massive amounts of snow. Dave’s sits on a very advantageous spot on the mountain where it collects wind buff and stays soft and smooth. Others include the Dropout Chutes, which are a must-hit off Chair 23 on a powder day. Another would be The Hemlocks on the backside for those powder stashes and creative line choices.
For lodging on the mountain, Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge has ski-in, ski-out access to the nearby lifts. In the village, the Westin Monache Resort has two-bedroom luxury suites with year-round outdoor pool and hot tubs, as well as a 24-hour fitness center. Alpenhof Lodge in Mammoth Village, has spacious rooms and budget-friendly prices.
Mammoth Mountain has a fantastic dining scene. Start your day with an apple fritter and fresh-squeezed orange juice at Shea Schat’s Bakery before heading up the mountain, and cap off your day on the slopes with craft cocktails and burgers at the Mammoth Tavern, tapas at Side Door Cafe and Wine Bar, or pan-seared salmon at 53 Kitchen and Cocktails. For a sweet treat at the end of the day, one of the famous macaroons from Dessert’D (formerly Mimi’s Cookie Bar).
Mammoth Mountain has the après-ski scene down pat, from slopeside California craft brews on sunny decks to fireside cocktails in Mammoth Village later in the evening. For classic Bavarian atmosphere and schnitzel sandwiches and bratwursts, try the Yodler just across from the Main Lodge on the mountain. On Main Street, try Slocums Bar & Grill, which to have offered the best happy hour in town since 1983 with cocktails for $6 and under. For a tropical paradise at 8,000 feet, stop in at Lakanuki for the full Tiki bar experience, complete with umbrella- and pineapple-crowned cocktails and appetizers like Hawaiian street tacos or Tiki coconut shrimp.
Alaska Airlines and United have direct flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Mammoth Yosemite Airport, just 10 minutes from town. By car, Mammoth is about three and a half hours from Los Angeles and about six hours from San Francisco. There are shuttle and taxi services available in town, and many hotels and resorts offer free transport to Mammoth Mountain.