Mammoth Mountain gains an extra long ski and snowboard season due to snowfall that piles up 400 inches annually and the highest elevation lifts in California. Deep snow and Eastern Sierra elevation that tops 11,000 feet mean the lifts can run into summer.
Slather on the sunscreen, and don the T-shirts, sunglasses, and bikinis to hit the corn snow that makes up one of the longest ski seasons in North America. Expect bluebird skies, for Mammoth boasts over 300 days of sunshine per year.
Spring skiing and riding at Mammoth runs at least through Memorial Day. How far beyond that the sliding season can stretch depends on how the snow holds up. "The season can go until July 4," Mammoth's Dan Hansen told OnTheSnow.com. The High Sierra resort's latest closing ever was August 13, 1995.
Warming temperatures in May can peel feet off the slopes fast, but this winter's snowfall, which topped the 400-inch mark by early March, bodes well for the spring snow pack. Mammoth will determine the ending date for this season as spring progresses based on how long the snow lasts.
The resort runs its regular winter season through April 18 with all 28 lifts operating, winds and weather permitting. Three main base areas --Eagle, Canyon, and Main Lodge- access the slopes. But starting April 19, Mammoth moves into spring mode, reducing to eight lifts with Main Lodge as the only base area.
Spring lifts include the gondola, Face Lift, Thunder Bound, Broadway, Discovery, Chair 23, Stump Alley, Goldrush, and sometimes Chair 5. May snowmelt can shut down Goldrush and Stump Alley, but the gondola, Face Lift, Broadway, and Chair 23 are spring fixtures to reach the high elevation bowls of corn.
Crews maintain Main Park features and the superpipe as long as they can, but the resort adds a new terrain park each spring on the side of Saddle Bowl about 1,500 feet higher in elevation. The Saddle Bowl Park, which includes jumps, rails, and a 22-foot-high halfpipe, can be lapped via Face Lift Express.
Main Lodge offers all skier services: rentals, lessons, demos, tickets, the sports shop, and dining. Restaurants in McCoy station remain open, shifting to weekends only in late May.
The spring scene -- cocktails and beer in the sun -- spreads across Main Lodge deck. Beach chairs line up in front of the Mill, which serves food and beverages as long as Goldrush and Stump Alley lifts run. "It's definitely got the spring vibe," said Hansen.
Lift tickets continue at regular season rates through April 18, but shift to spring rates tfrom April 19 through closing. Full day spring lift tickets are priced $9-18 less than the regular season tickets, depending on age. Multi-day and half-day afternoon tickets are available, too.
Mammoth Mountain accommodations stay open year round. Those looking for spring deals will find rates running cheaper than winter season. Mammoth Mountain Inn becomes the only ski in-ski out property after April 19.
Lift hours also shift in May, based on snow conditions. The hours bump earlier to allow skiers and riders to take advantage of firmer conditions and avoid late afternoon slop. Lifts start at 7 or 7:30 a.m. and shut down at 1 or 2 p.m.
The best spring skiing and riding is found up high on the bowls accessed via the gondola and Chair 23. "Cornice Bowl can turn into bottomless corn," said Hansen, drooling over the memory of a run from last spring.
More information. Or call 800-MAMMOTH.