Fly over the Eastern Sierra into Mammoth Lakes, and the plane dives in a steep corkscrew to the tarmac. From then on, you crane up at [R227R, Mammoth Mountain].
Mammoth is one big mountain. Its 3,500 acres are accessed by a network of 29 lifts. With extensive above tree line bowls, wide-open expanses will lure you to stay longer than planned to sink more turns. We show you how to pack the huge mountain into three days.
Mammoth Mountain, located on the Eastern Sierra, features more than 150 trails to ski or ride. Photo by Peter Morning. Courtesy of Mammoth Mountain.
Beat the Dodge Canyon crowds by getting lift tickets and rentals, if needed, in the village before boarding the Village Gondola to Canyon Lodge. Hop the Canyon Express to warm up on buffed groomers, such as Downhill. Slide west to Rollercoaster Express for more playful terrain. When ready for fun in the glades and steeps, cross over to the east side of Canyon Express for cycling Chair 22. A short, rocky traverse leads to the Avalanche Chutes, which fill with powder in the lower turns.
At lunch time, pop up the Canyon Express again. This time, ski west down Wall Street, aiming for Mill Cafe. Sink your teeth into BBQ tri-tip ribs slathered in sauce, or pair up chili with salad greens for lighter fare.
The Mill Café features BBQ specialties for lunch. Photo by Becky Lomax.
Avoid succumbing to the sunny beachfront lawn chair scene outside Mill Cafe by jumping on Goldrush Express. Due to Mammoth’s 11,053-foot top elevation, forego the summit until you’ve acclimatized and head for the mountain’s eastern side. Divide your afternoon between Chair 25 and Cloud Nine Express, testing out the glades between them and then carving into Ricochet for some bowl skiing.
When the lungs and legs give out, circle around to take one last descent to reach Round Robin, tucked between the Canyon and Rollercoaster Expresses. You can hit the unique Art Park features or just leisurely peruse snowboarder Jamie Lynn’s paintings on 10 rails.
Head for your Village Lodge condo and soak in one of the outdoor pools. Explore shops while walking to Petra’s Bistro for wine, crab cakes and dinner. Drop in The Hyde for Mammoth’s version of the L.A. nightclub scene.
To fire up your engine, stop in the Old New York Deli and Bagel Company. Select from more than 20 types of bagels, boiled and hearth-baked, and spread thick with homemade cream cheese.
Repeat yesterday’s route to the Canyon Express top terminal, where a descent down Lower Dry Creek reaches the Stump Alley Express. Dip down Stump Alley for a repeat ride before cutting down the wide Broadway boulevard with groomer turns. On the Broadway Express, cruise down Powder Bowl and Ralphie’s. When ready for off-piste forays, cycle back up several times, skiing Gravy Chute to Agee’s Run.
The Broadway Express offers intermediate and advanced terrain with a variety of pitches. Photo by Becky Lomax.
At this point your stomach is sure to be growling, so load onto the Panorama Gondola to zip midway to McCoy Station. Design your own lunch with the food court burgers, garlic fries, soups, sandwiches or large organic veggie salad bar, but don’t bog yourself down as you’re summit bound.
McCoy Station breaks the ride on the Panorama Gondola in half, allowing skiers to lap only the summit portion if they wish. Photo by Becky Lomax.
After refueling, load the Panorama Gondola to reach Mammoth’s summit. Gawk at the Sierra Crest and spiky Minarets. Then, swing east along the ridge for a descent from Dave’s Run to Solitude finishing at the new Chair 5. Lines used to clog it, but last summer, Mammoth swapped in the high-speed quad, now called High-Five Express.
Views from the summit of Mammoth Mountain include the jagged Minarets. Photo by Becky Lomax.
Spin laps on Chair 5, exploring its gullies and small glades. When ready for the summit again, drop to catch the gondola at McCoy Station. This time, investigate lines beneath the gondola. On a powder day, you can stack up turns and then tack on Face Lift Express loops to plunder the mini-canyons between Chairs 3 and 5.
When the summit opens after storms, the bowl under the summit offers plenty of powder turns. Photo by Becky Lomax.
For your final run, ski toward the Rollercoaster Express base to find the Village Ski Back Trail. Keep your speed up to glide the 1.5 miles to the Village Lodge.
End the day with an intimate dinner at the Lakefront Restaurant at Tamarack Lodge. Wine, locally-grown produce, and the game sampler of elk, quail and pork with a French twist provide the right finishing touches.
For breakfast, wake up with crepes and espresso at the village’s Side Door. Then, catch the free red line bus to get to the Main Lodge. Ride Discovery Chair to access Chair 12. Warm up on several of its blue runs and lollygag turns through the glades. When quenched of the terrain, cut east to the Broadway Express to reach Chair 23, which climbs up one of Mammoth’s steepest faces.
Time for the classic run—Cornice Bowl. A variety of entry points plummet into the giant bowl with steep fall-line descents. Try out different lines to your heart’s content.
When ready for lunch, drop to the Panorama Gondola to ride to the Top of the Sierra Lodge. The views and paninis will prep you for the afternoon on Mammoth’s backside.
A few laps on Chair 14 can yield powder drops and glade skiing. Photo by Peter Morning. Courtesy of Mammoth Mountain.
From the summit, cruise west down the ridge. Opt for Red Lakes Run to sweep down into Santiago Bowl. Ride Chair 14 to explore the back side glades. When ready for a front side return, drop from Chair 14’s summit into Scotty’s for more steep open bowl skiing or switch to Chair 13 to reach the tamer Chair 12 zone.
Celebrate your ski adventure with local après. Order spicy wings and Mammoth Double Nut Brown Ale at a long-time Mammoth staple—The Yodler.
You’ll depart the mountain, wishing you could stay longer. So little time, so much Mammoth.