[R227R, Mammoth Mountain], surrounded by the Eastern Sierras, runs snowcat tours that come with unique dining experiences amid views of the craggy Minarets. The tours combine snowy scenery with gourmet treats for a relaxing outdoor experience that stands far apart from the ordinary.

The tours, which launch from the Main Lodge area at the bottom of the gondola, load riders into a luxury, heated snowcat for a 15-minute ride to the top of Minaret Summit-a snow-covered knoll with sweeping big views. The Minarets-a series of toothy gray peaks-were named for their spires that resemble Moslem temple minarets. Bring the camera. You'll have time to explore the summit and take photos as OnTheSnow.com did while lunch is set up.

The lunch tours, which depart at 11:30 a.m. on weekends and holidays, spread out gourmet plates on picnic tables covered with white linens. Grilled chicken with two salads, cookies, and wine can be savored outdoors under the sunshine, or in inclement weather inside the warm snowcat.

Minaret Vista Sunset tours head to the same location to watch the sun drop behind the Sierras and the alpenglow light up Mammoth Mountain. Sunset tours, offered Fridays through Sundays and holidays, are accompanied by hors d'oeuvres and a champagne toast.

Reservations are required for the lunch or sunset tours. Each tour costs $79 for adults and $39 for children 12 years old and younger.

Scheduled tours end April 4, but custom tours are available following April 4 by request. Tours can be booked for special events.

More information. Or call 800-MAMMOTH.