The Snow Report
Mammoth is the cool kid on the ski-resort scene. With a more than a dash of California edge, eight terrain parks, and regulars like Shaun White who come for the 18- and 22-foot pipes, this Eastern Sierra snow spot (400 inches per season with 300 days of sun) blows most other hills out of the water.
By the numbers, things look like this: 150 trails to cruise, 3,100 feet of vertical rise, and 3,500 acres of diverse terrain. All 28 lifts are high-speed and include three gondolas for a movement capacity of 45,000 people hourly (still, lines get long). The equipment shop has a demo center and a separate kids’ rental space, and provides overnight tuning service.
Pricing here is accessible and deals abound: If you’re going to stay on green runs, you get $30 off your lift ticket. If you’re older than 80, you ski free. And if you’re parents bringing kids, the two of you can get in on one shared ticket.
Children go nuts at Woolly’s Adventure Summit, where unbridled fun derives from a six-lane tube park, kids-only trails, snowman-making, snowball-throwing, and free-flowing hot chocolate. There’s also plenty off the mountain that’ll entertain young ones: geocaching, a movie theater, ice skating, and, currently being built, a bowling alley.
To take care of the mountain’s one million yearly guests, 2,300 clean-shaven employees do a variety of jobs: More than 100 of them are on the ski patrol and clean up bad bails. Others are Level 4-certified instructors who lead mogul-focused camps, women’s clinics, and, when there’s a 12-inch forecast, powder-day lessons.
The area’s more than 50 lodgings include the pet-friendly Westin Monache, the centrally located Auberge Residences, and Tallus, a collection of luxury rentals. There are lots of campsites nearby too—Twin Lakes is closest but others abound.
In terms of restaurants, look for Campo, opening this December, and Green V, a vegan, gluten-free eatery on the mountain. The pedestrian village is packed with shops, bars, and nightclubs—and free transportation gets you between the town and the ski area. The drive here is a slog from both Los Angeles and San Francisco, so fly into Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH) if you can.
Mammoth knows that much of its business relies on local wildlife thriving (and on greater climate issues), so it takes measures to assure bear safety, conserve a significant amount of energy, recycle 130,000 pounds per year, and use biodiesel in its mountain fleet.
Don’t let the fact that it’s winter stop you from seeing the wonders of the Ansel Adams National Wilderness area: It’d be a travesty to come all the way here and neglect to make a pilgrimage to Devil’s Postpile or Rainbow Falls—both unforgettable sights.
CONTACT: (800) 626-6684, mammothmountain.com
SEASON: Early November to early June
TICKETS: General: $75 (half-day tickets cost less; discounts offered to military personnel), ages 65 and older: $64, children: $58, ages 6 and younger and 80 and older: free