Mammoth Mountain lives up to its name in many ways - big snows, big terrain, big vertical, big fun - but one of the most overlooked qualities of the resort is the views.

With the 14,000-foot-high ridge of the White Mountains to the east, the jagged skyline of the Minarets and Mts. Banner and Ritter to the northwest, the chasmal San Joaquin River canyon to the west, the stark desert uplands to the northeast and the towering Sierra crest to the south, riding the lifts at Mammoth is a gaper's paradise.

What better way is there to take in all this scenery than with a good meal, a decent wine, and pleasant company?

Well, Mammoth will supply most of that - you have to bring the pleasant company - with its Minaret Summit Lunch Tour and Minaret Vista Sunset Tour.

Guests will be transported to a ridge above the San Joaquin canyon - with almost-within-reach views of the surrounding panorama - via luxury snowcat (i.e., it has comfy bucket-type seats). At Minaret Vista, the resort will bring out yummy comestibles prepared by the chefs of the Patina Restaurant Group. Then, after a group photo, the snowcat will return the wayfarers to the Main Lodge.

Both the 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. lunch and 3:35-5:45 p.m.sunset tours, which take place Friday-Sunday and during holidays, cost $89 for adults and $59 for kids 12 and under. Reservations (800-626-6684) are a must.