California’s world-class snow conditions and unique skiing terrain are only a short flight from San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Situated in the Great Basin Desert amid the stunning eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range, Mammoth Mountain is famous both for its steep, varied terrain and the legendary duration of its seasons; snow can often last from November through to the beginning of July. With a 3369-metre summit, the mountain averages around a metre of snow per year, thanks largely to weather patterns that form storms over the Sierra. Formed from cataclysmic volcanic eruptions millions of years ago, the sheer scale and rugged beauty of this landscape makes it a spectacular location.
Mammoth Mountain Inn offers an upmarket twist on the traditional hunting lodge, ideally situated at the foot of the ski slopes. The downstairs lobby is scattered with sumptuous leather Chesterfield lounges and cosy fireplaces, while upstairs The Mountainside Bar & Grill serves hearty comfort food with stunning views over the mountain. Hotel facilities include a fitness centre, an outdoor heated pool with multiple spas and on-site storage facilities for skis and snowboarding gear. Though it’s a 10-minute drive from the Mammoth Lakes town centre, frequent complimentary shuttles run from outside the front door – a small price to pay for being able to walk straight up to the chairlift each morning.
10400 Minaret Road, Mammoth Lakes
The resort more than lives up to its namesake, with 1400-plus hectares of skiable terrain; a versatile mix of groomed trails, wide open bowls, steep chutes, tree skiing and much more. Conditions are frequently among the best in the state, with 300 days of sunshine a year. Infrastructure is also impressive: there are 150 runs, 28 lifts and eight terrain parks (featuring some scary half-pipes) spanning terrain that’s suited to all abilities. Mammoth is currently offering a stay-and-ski package that includes seven nights at Mammoth Mountain Inn, return transfers from Mammoth Yosemite Airport and a six-day lift pass from $1179 per person twin share (conditions apply). Visit skimax.com.au/usa/california/ski-mammoth.htm.
For a beer straight off the slopes, the European-inspired Yodler (theyodlermammoth.com) is a great option for a hearty schnitzel or pork knuckle sandwich and a stein of beer on the sunny terrace at the foot of the mountain. In town, head to Gomez’s for killer Mexican food and the best margaritas, or hit The Mammoth Tavern for delightful cocktails – the Moscow Mule is an absolute must – and a rib-eye steak. Black Velvet Coffee serves specialty roasts sourced anywhere from Guatemala to Brazil or, if you’ve fulfilled your daily caffeine quota, have a glass of red from the on-site Wine Bar. More upmarket dining options include Mogul (themogul.com), which is perfect for meat-lovers, and Jimmy’s Taverna for the freshest seafood cooked with genuine panache.
SEE ALSO: Our full guide to San Francisco