Mammoth Lakes is about 4 miles from the lifts and has little pretence other than as a mountain sports town. With year round business the sprawling village has seen huge investment since being bought out, and now there is the prospect of a real central focal point being established. Skiers and boarders who are keen to maximise their time on a massive mountain, an extinct volcano which enjoys one of the most reliable annual snowfalls of over 25 feet, prefer to stay at the base station apartments, hotels and condominiums. Canyon Lodge or the Mammoth Mountain Inn complexes. Otherwise Mammoth Lakes is not unattractive and has a fair selection of bars and restaurants and some excellent sports and snowsports retail outlets and designer factory outlets to service the flourishing tourist trade, particularly the influx of moneyed Los Angeles based skiers and boarders. The free shuttlebus service is reported to be reliable, linking the Village to the slopes and the condos and hotels which are dotted up the road to the base stations, and it runs until late at night. The town and its facilities, as with the mountain, can be quiet midweek but does get busy particularly at peak season weekends.
|Opens||Nov – June|
Mammoth’s 3500 acres make it one of the biggest ski areas in North America, along side Vail and the multi-mountain resorts of Whistler – Blackcomb and Aspen – Snowmass. The terrain is evenly balanced with 30% of the slopes graded easy, mostly on the wooded lower slopes, with the vast open snow bowls above the treeline largely given over to black and double black diamond standard slopes (advanced to expert). Mammoth has spent over $65 million lately to upgrade lifts and enhance skier services. The most recent projects include upgrading the gondola system to an eight-passenger high-speed lift and the addition of three high-speed quads. The addition of these faster lifts has helped to rocket Mammoth back up the chart in the newly important ‘high speed lifts’ league, whilst maintaining its eternal North American top 3 position for hourly uplift – only it and fellow Intrawest resort. Whistler-Blackcomb have broken the 50,000 skiers-per-hour barrier. Mammoth is big enough to be able to offer genuinely the “something for all level of skier” claim that most resorts make but a good proportion don’t deliver to any great extent – usually in either the beginner or expert category. Beginners at Mammoth can benefit from a special deal which gives them an all-day lift pass, rental and all-day tuition for little more than the cost of a normal day’s lift ticket (without the rentals and tuition). After you’ve learnt the basics the ultra low priced beginner ticket, covering three lifts serving terrain suitable for your ability level, is another good economy option. Intermediates have the majority of the terrain, and the option to use their Mammoth Pass at June Mountain, also owned by the resort and located 17 miles (28km) north of the resort. It has a further 35 trails to offer. With 40% of the terrain graded intermediate, the remaining thirty per-cent of the mountain has advanced level terrain, and Mammoth has a world-class reputation for race training, so there’s plenty to entertain experts on a week’s holiday. Mammoth is almost unique in North America having a ‘second season’ beginning after Easter and typically running through to early July. Mountain skiers and ‘boarders are advised to carry clothing suitable for either hot or cold temperatures, because of changeable conditions during the day at this time of year. The best skiing of the day is in the morning, starting on east facing trails and ending your ‘day’ in the early afternoon, probably stripped down to T shirt and shorts by the time the snow is too wet and heavy in the afternoon heat. Move on to a summer activity – fishing, biking or hiking maybe, after lunch. The resort also offers night skiing to 9pm on three of its major trails – Thunder Road, Bowling Alley and Broadway. There are also 28 miles (45 km) of cross-country trails to enjoy.
|Accommodation & Apres Ski|
There is no shortage of choice when it comes to eating out, with nearly 60 different single options from French haute cuisine, to steaks and burgers, to sandwich and fast food take-aways. Nevados comes with regular recommendation and serves good quality modern American cuisine; Shogun’s does Japanese food. Grumpy’s is a great option for those on a budget and livens up as the weekend evenings progress. Apres ski covers the full spectrum from drinks as you come off the hill at the Yodler base station bar to late night drinking and dancing at the Whiskey Creek and Rafter’s. For accommodation there is plenty of options to suit all budgets and tastes. For easy access to the slopes find somewhere at the Mammoth Mountain Inn. The Jagerhof is British run and lies on the bus route near the edge of the town.