Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Mountain, California

Written by Greg and Heather Burke

I had to change my powder-alert email settings from Mammoth. Everyday I would receive snow mail in my inbox from California, one foot overnight, three feet in a week, 100 inches in 10 days. Enough already! Surely you fellow Eastern skiers have heard that California mountains are buried in record amounts of the white stuff, topping 28-feet (while we right-coasters are still measuring in inches). 

Californians wrote the book on how to play, and Mammoth is their #1 winter playground. The state motto “Eureka,” is Greek for “I have found it.” We made the trip last April vacation and we found it too – in Mammoth proportions. 

We got a firsthand taste of the “foot overnight phenomenon,” followed by a day of sun and then more of the aforementioned powder - so goes the Mammoth cycle. None of the locals seemed shocked by our good fortune, or the super-sized 15-foot base depths, just another day in this winter playground apparently.

This top-rated ski resort, located in the center of the “Golden State,” has one of the longest, deepest, sunniest ski seasons in the country. Multiply a 200-day ski season, with 300 days of sunshine a year, then add 400 inches of snow and you have yourself one Mammoth ski trip.

Intrawest sold Mammoth after investing $500 million (no typo there) and transforming the base into a true mountain village - much like they did with Tremblant, Copper, and Whistler.

We stayed at the Village at Mammoth, in a spacious alpine-motif Westin Monache condo. Our digs were delightful, and we could walk to the handful of shops, pubs, and restaurants in the pedestrian plaza.

Mammoth is monstrous as its name implies, with 3,500-acres served by 28 lifts - an impressive uphill capacity nearing Whistler. In fact, you can ascend the entire 3,100’ vertical via one speedy scenic gondola to the 11,053’ summit, and ski in all directions.

Mammoth should not be lumped in with the Sierras of Lake Tahoe. The base elevation at Mammoth is 8,000’, equivalent to Squaw Valley’s summit.

Surrounded by desert (and a 3-hour haul from Reno airport), Mammoth is subject to a unique weather convergence of abundant powder, sunshine and a blow-your-hat-off High Sierra wind. The blustery tendency is both a curse and a contributor. While gondola closures can be an issue, dyed in the wool Mammoth-ites will tell you those gusts of snow blowing wind keep the slopes “buffed.” Snowdrifts fill in mogul fields and give a fresh coat of “pow” each night – sometimes even between heart thumping runs.

Mammoth is ultra-popular with snowboarders, it is a California thing (dude). One snow surfer told me Mammoth has “vibe” – I believe that is a good thing. The entire massive mountain rides like a giant natural terrain park with peaks, bowls, cliffs and curves.

Mammoth holds its head high with the big boys in the ski biz. The above-treeline bowls of Dave’s and Scotty’s offer the vastness of Vail with the pitch of Snowbird. Cliff lined chutes of Hangman’s and Huevos Grandes will satisfy adrenaline seekers just like the Couloir at Big Sky. The stunning rock formations of Dry Creek remind me of an off-piste adventure at Val D’Isere in France, and Avalanche Chutes 1-3 can hold their candles up to Alta’s steepest.

The scenery is my thing, and this central Cal. resort overlooks the striking Sierras and spectacular Yosemite National Park, with shimmering lakes below towering century old pines.

The Mill became our family’s favorite on-mountain hitching post, but the mid-mountain gondi building, McCoy’s – named after founder Dave McCoy, is central with all the essentials plus a scenic sit down dining spot called Parallax.

Our kids loved the mascot, Wooly Mammoth (you get the picture). If you don’t see the furry character out and about, capture a photo with the massive bronze likeness near the Mammoth Mountain Inn.

Après ski is definitively French – but easily translated into Californian. Bands play on the Mammoth’s sun decks and in the Village. Skiers and riders don shades and shorts to hang out and soak up the lingering west coast rays.

If you are looking for serious snow, Mammoth should be your California dream destination. With the entire High Sierra peak snow-coated well into May, you can make tracks at this lofty area long after Maine resorts spin their last chair.

We combined our April family vacation with a kid-pleasing stopover at California Disney and a pass through Hollywood, flying in and out of L.A (with a six-hour drive to Mammoth). Reno is your recommended direct gateway to get to Mammoth most readily.

And if you want Eastern skier torture by technology – sign up for the Mammoth Powder alert, they get dumped on – Eureka, you get “snow mail.”

Elevation

Base
7952 feet
Base
Summit
11052 feet
Summit
Vertical Drop
3100 feet
Vertical Drop

Lifts

Gondola & Trams
3
Gondola & Trams
High Speed Sixes
2
High Speed Sixes
High Speed Quads
9
High Speed Quads
Quad Chair
1
Quad Chair
Triple Chairs
6
Triple Chairs
Double Chairs
4
Double Chairs
Surface Lifts
3
Surface Lifts

Terrain

Beginner Runs
25 %
Beginner Runs
Intermediate Runs
40 %
Intermediate Runs
Advanced Runs
20 %
Advanced Runs
Expert Runs
15 %
Expert Runs
Total Runs
151
Total Runs
Terrain Parks
13
Terrain Parks
Longest Run
3 miles
Longest Run
Skiable Terrain
3500 acres
Skiable Terrain
Snowmaking Area
700 acres
Snowmaking Area

Opening and closing dates

Season Open Date Close Date
2017/2018 11/09/2017 07/02/2018 (estimated)
2016/2017 11/10/2016 08/06/2017
2015/2016 11/05/2015 07/04/2016
2014/2015 11/13/2014 05/25/2015

Lift ticket and season pass prices

Category Age restrictions Price (USD unless otherwise stated)
Adult 23 - 64 $139
Child 4 & under Free
Child 5 - 12 $56
Child 13 - 22 $114
Senior 65 - 79 $114
Season Pass
(Cali4nia Lift Only Pass)
$799

Overall Rating

4.5 / 5 based on 35 reviews
Gavin Kilcoyne

Mammoth is one of the places you know you will be returning to season after season. Mammoth provides some of the best skiing in all of the sierras. Fun for all levels

Posted on Nov 20, 2017
Raj Mehta

Stayed there last season in March for our Spring Break from NC. we flew to LA then to short flight to Mammoth hotel bus picked us up. Stayed at the main lodge. Rooms were not that great but clean

Posted on Nov 17, 2017
Sam Crawford

Mammoth is a killer mountain with so much open terrain to rip it up. Nothing better than a bluebird day with a foot of fresh pow and Wooly by you side!!!

Posted on Nov 10, 2017
Ilan Dvir

Mammoth is my favorite mountain I've ever ridden, there's such a variety of terrain there's something for everyone. I personally like steep and deep when the conditions are awesome, but make no mistake when the weather isn't agreeing there's great tree runs at Mammoth, and when it hasn't snowed in a while the parks are always prime! Finally the lifts are perfectly located in the right locations so you'll never find yourself traversing... Just shredding!

Posted on Nov 08, 2017
paul lanyi

Mammoth is exactly that -- huge. On most days (excluding holidays, wind hold days and Xmas), it's a joy to ride at. So much varied terrain. Like to ride in the park, check. Groomers, check. Bumps, check. Steep bumps, check. Intermediate, check. The mountain is actually so varied. If you're lucky enough to fly in, it's amazing. Otherwise a 5 to 7 hour slog. The town has restaurants with everything from adult white table cloth service to hot dogs and chili and fresh brews.

Posted on Nov 08, 2017
Cody Crawford

I have grown up going to this resort and absolutely love it. The employees are awesome, friendly, and help out with any problems. The snow was fantastic last year. The resort is big enough that even on peak holidays it doesn’t feel as crowded as some other resorts. Definitely would recommend making the trip up here if can.

Posted on Nov 17, 2017
Thomas Maltese

Living in Southern California, Mammoth is the only real Mountain within easy driving distance. The airport with connections to SF and LA really Make it accessible from anywhere. The town and the village ate pretty good, but the mountain is awesome. It could just be my familiarity with the mountain, but it's more fun than any other I've ever visited.

Posted on Nov 13, 2017
John Stinson

no town nightlife - not much cheap lodging, long drive from airport , no real great off piste skiing, needs base lodge music entertainment and apre ski scene - currently there is not much music or entertainment at the base areas. Lift tix are too expensive. Very crowded, usually hideous wind most of the time and they close the best part of the mountain when windy, rarely good snow conditions for more than a few hours due to either wind, heat, or getting skied out by so many skiers

Posted on Nov 09, 2017
Michael Gauquier

Mammoth is more than a mountain, it's a way of life. Once you enter the town all the problems go away. Freedom, peace and equality. The way it should be. Thank you.

Posted on Nov 08, 2017
Anthony Standard

This past Winter we stayed at the Village Lodge for several days. Our experience there was nothing but perfect. Although there was a snow storm the staff was very attentive and very accommodating due to the circumstances. I would with out a doubt recommend that lodge, the restaurants in the area, and the slopes for being some of the best in the state & even better than most outside of California!!!

Posted on Nov 08, 2017