Skiing at Mammoth Mountain, CA
Updated: Mar 1, 2021
Mammoth is one of my favorite ski resorts. It is the first large resort I ever skied, and has a wonderful number of long, groomed trails for every ability level.
We frequently travel to Mammoth with our extended family, and have the best time on a multi-generational vacation. In general, we tend to ski at Mammoth in February while our boys are on a school break. We fly into LAX or Santa Barbara, spend time with family, and then drive from Ventura, CA to Mammoth (the drive is approximately 5 hours). We have stayed in hotels and condos, and prefer staying in a condo for the relaxed feel and having access to a kitchen for breakfast in the mornings.
Mammoth's weather can vary between almost-warm and sunny to windy and snowing, but the temperatures are generally far more pleasant than we experience when skiing in New York. The length of the runs means that we spend a lot more time actually skiing than sitting on a lift.
Speaking of lifts, it took our boys a while to get used to the lack of safety bars on the chairs. Our local resorts have safety bars on all lifts, while Mammoth has some very high chairs that can induce a sense of vertigo. Chair 23 is notorious for this feeling. While I haven't ridden Chair 23, Chair 14 is scary enough! I have developed a technique of sitting on my poles and wrapping my right arm over the back of the chair. I don't have any of my own photos of this particular lift, mostly because I was not going to let go of the chair to try to get one with my phone!
We usually start out on Chair 8, located near Canyon Lodge. This chair generally doesn't develop a very long lift line, and the blues accessed from this chair are long, groomed cruisers wonderful for getting our legs warmed up. From there, we like to ski over to Eagle Chair (a high-speed six-pack chair) and then up Chair 25 to do the blue-blacks on the front side of the mountains. My boys particularly like Sunshine Glades on this side of the mountain. I like Quicksilver and Back For More - they are well groomed, beautiful, and long runs on this side of the mountain.
As mid-morning ends, we often head over to the main lodge area by skiing a few runs from the Rollercoaster Lift, and then skiing runs off Goldrush Express. I like Wall Street a lot, but the boys love Lower Dry Creek. It is a run that swoops through the canyon created by a creek bed - it often has a section of moguls. I am not a fan of moguls, so I tend to avoid this run in general. Stump Alley Express takes us over to Broadway, an easy blue groomer. By the time we end up at the main lodge, it is generally near lunch time. We don't eat at the lodge, however - our favorite place to eat is the Outpost, an outdoor grilled cheese eatery with many varieties of this classic sandwich.
Refueled for the day, we ski the runs off Chairs 13 and 14, and then head over to the dreaded (by me) Chair 14 for additional runs. My boys generally take the tree runs down from the top, while I take the intermediate blue-black or blue runs to the bottom.
For basic mountain stats, Mammoth has an apt name: the resort is quite large!
Number of Runs:
150 (named) runs
Number of Lifts:
28 (including three gondolas)
The resort also has something few other resorts have: an active fumarole. Skiing on top of a volcano has some interesting features! The fumarole is fenced off to prevent skiers from accidentally getting too near the boiling water - in 2006, three ski patrollers tragically fell to their deaths into the fumarole while trying to secure fencing around the volcanic vent. We did ski the runs near the area, but gave the entire fenced area a very wide berth!
The fumarole is fenced off - for a good reason!
We absolutely love skiing at Mammoth Mountain. My father-in-law has an Ikon pass and frequents the area. We generally visit once per year and try to get up to Mammoth in that time frame, as the snow conditions are fantastic and the views are unparalleled. Skiing through Ponderosa Pines in the Sierra Nevadas never gets old.
We certainly look forward to visiting Mammoth again - hopefully one day soon!