Every ski area has a feel to it, Mammoth is like its namesake “Mammoth”. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area is in the Eastern Sierra Mountain Range of California, and is a world class winter/summer destination. The ski area has a 7,953 foot base elevation with an 11,053 foot summit. Mammoth has 28 lifts servicing 46 trails, and is open year round for skiing in the winter and mountain biking in the summer.
The Canyon Lodge and the Eagle Lodge are located in the town of Mammoth Lakes and the Main Lodge is just 5 miles up Minaret Rd. It is possible to stay in the Mammoth Village and walk less than 100 yards to the Village Gondola that leads to the Canyon Lodge, or stay in one of the many housing options surrounding both the Canyon and Eagle Lodges.
There is a transit system setup to service Mammoth Lakes and the Ski Area Lodges. Guests of the Mammoth Mountain owned properties are able to ride this system for free. The parking lot at the ski area is also serviced by transit buses, virtually eliminating the long ski boot destroying walks from the car to lodge. The parking lot transit service gives Mammoth a near Disney like feeling, and approaching the Main Lodge with Mammoth Mountain rising behind is exhilarating if you truly love the sport.
We were there the day before Memorial Day after most ski areas in California had been closed for some time. The Eagle and Canyon Lodges are lower on the mountain and were closed but the Main Lodge and associated lifts were in full operation with a base elevation of 9,000 feet.
The morning started with very firm spring conditions that some might call icy, I just call it firm, fast and fun. We made our way around the operational parts of the mountain hunting for carvable snow pack. Once we figured out the layout, we found plenty of buttery spring snow to carve up.
Late morning rolled around and so did the hunger, we a couple of operators where the best place to eat was and they all agreed it was a place called “The Mill” at the bottom of Stump Alley. The Tri Tip Sandwich is top-notch but they have other items as well.
Before your legs are gone, a trip or two up Chair 23 and the top of the Panorama Gondola are in order if you like steep runs. The Panorama Gondola summits Mammoth Mountain at 11,053 feet. The Eleven53 Interpretive Center and Cafe is there for either a recharge or a place to regain your senses for some people. Plenty of people go to the top just to take in the views and then ride the Gondola back to McCoy Station or all the way to the Main Lodge.
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area is a destination Ski Resort in every sense and on the right day is a skier’s paradise. I would advise paying attention to projected crowd levels and schedule a trip accordingly.