When southern California residents want to enjoy prime ski conditions, they head to Mammoth Mountain in the Sierra Nevada mountains. My friends and I have been skiing at Mammoth Ski Resort since we were kids and we love it for many reasons. It’s an easy drive (no winding roads) to this world-class ski resort that has dozens of trails for all levels of skiers and riders from the base to the 11,053-foot summit. And since Mammoth typically gets a heavy snowfall starting in November, it stays open until June or longer.
But while Mammoth is famous for skiing, it’s a year-round resort with a range of outdoor activities, restaurants and accommodations. This makes Mammoth Mountain one of the best family ski resorts in the United States. Plus, it’s a short drive to Mammoth’s sister resort, June Lake. It’s ideal for those who prefer a smaller ski resort.
Ready to plan your Mammoth trip? Here are 10 things to know about Mammoth Ski Resort.
Read More: 15 Things to do in June Lake
Getting around Mammoth Ski Resort car-free
Nearly every year, my childhood friend, Dana, and I take a ski trip together in Mammoth. We always drive up, but once there, we never need our car to get around.
Among Mammoth Lakes’ great features is the free public transit. The Eastern Sierra Transit Authority (ESTA) bus service offers complimentary transportation all around the town of Mammoth Lakes, including to each of the three mountain base lodges. A free night trolley runs until about 2 am.
In addition, The Village gondola transports visitors in six minutes directly to Canyon Lodge, one of the three base lodges.
Plus, direct flights to Mammoth are also an option. United Airlines offers direct flights from LAX year-round, and from San Francisco and Denver, CO in winter.
Read More: Where Kids Ski FREE in the US!
Exploring Mammoth Lakes
There are three main areas in Mammoth Lakes: the town itself, The Village at Mammoth, and Mammoth Ski Resort. In town, you’ll find markets, restaurants, sport shops, hotels, condos, etc.
Within the town is The Village at Mammoth, a European-style and pedestrian-only complex built in 2003. Luxury condominiums, restaurants, shops, galleries, and a gondola to the slopes make this a destination in itself. Plus, it’s the hub for après-ski activities, events and shuttle stops.
A little farther up the road is the ski resort.
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area
If your family is here to ski or snowboard, you’ll spend most of your time exploring the mountain. Get an early start because there’s much to see! Mammoth has 25 chair lifts (includes nine express quads, two express six-packs, two gondolas) servicing more than 46 trails through pine forests.
Plus, there are eight terrain parks with 100-plus jibs, more than 5 jumps, and 3 half-pipes. Despite the large mountain’s size, it’s easy to navigate and avoid long lift lines. I think partly because the mountain has three base lodges, crowds are dispersed on the mountain. In addition to the Main Lodge on Minaret Road, you can access lifts at Canyon Lodge and Eagle Lodge. New for the 2023-2024 ski season: the Canyon Express 6-pack high-speed chairlift replaced the quad lift.
No matter where you are on the mountain, you don’t have to ski to the bottom for lunch. Situated at the summit, Eleven53 Cafe is a casual eatery serving Asian noodles, wraps and other items. It’s a fun spot to enjoy lunch with a view. Another good lunch spot is McCoy’s Marketplace at mid-mountain. Or escape to the backside of the mountain for gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and soups at The Outpost.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Located at the bottom of Stump Alley Express (chair 2), The Mill serves fresh BBQ. Take off your boots and relax by a fire pit on the large deck.
Ski and snowboarding schools
Not only did I learn to ski in Mammoth, two of my three kids did too. My youngest took her first lesson in Big Bear, a Southern California ski resort owned by Mammoth. Both Mammoth Mountain and Big Bear offer top-notch ski and snowboard schools for ages 3 and older. In addition, there’s an adaptive ski school for children and adults.
At Mammoth Ski Resort, lessons take place at the Main Lodge (four miles past The Village at Mammoth on Minaret Road), Canyon Lodge and Eagle Lodge. The closest base lodge to town, Eagle is located on Meridian Boulevard next to Juniper Springs Resort.
Private lessons and guides
One- and three-hour lessons with a pro are the best way to sharpen skills quickly. Make it a group lesson (bring up to 4 friends or family members) and skip lift lines with priority access.
Children’s ski/snowboard school
Grouped by age and ability, Mammoth offers half and full-day lessons to kids ages 3 and 4, 5 – 7, and 8 – 12. Prices vary depending on dates, and number of lesson days.
Mammoth also offers a lesson and childcare package. This entails time on the slopes in the morning followed by playtime, rest and activities in the afternoon.
Mammoth Ski Resort Rentals
In addition to the base lodges, ski and snowboard rentals are available at several locations, including The Village and in town. Again, prices vary depending on the type of rentals, which include standard, performance and demo. If possible, rent your gear the day before you hit the slopes. If you rent ski/snowboard gear in Mammoth Ski Resort, you can stow your skis and poles overnight for free. Daytime lockers are also available.
Lift Tickets at Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain
Ticket prices vary and it depends how many days you’ll ski. A single lift ticket for adults can range from $169 – $239, and from $69 – $112 for kids. But you can find deals by purchasing multi-day lift tickets online.
Kids under 4 and seniors 80 and over ski free. Mammoth lift tickets are valid same-day at June Mountain, excluding beginner tickets. Multi-day tickets are also valid at June.
Consider an Ikon Pass
In addition to unlimited season-long access to Mammoth, the Ikon Pass provides access to 27 destinations around the world. These include access to Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows) and Big Bear Mountain Resort.
Nordic skiing and snow-shoeing at Mammoth Ski Resort
In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Mammoth has 19 miles of groomed cross- country trails. It’s a great way to explore the beautiful Mammoth Lakes Basin. Sometimes my daughter and I take a day off from alpine skiing to strap on cross-country skis and glide through the quiet, snowy forest on trails that skim past a partially frozen lake.
Cross-country skis and snowshoe rentals are available at the Tamarack XC Ski Center, located by the cozy Tamarack Lodge & Resort.
Woolly’s Tube Park & Snow Play
Snow tubing is another fun winter activity at Mammoth. Wooly’s Tube Park & Snow Play has groomed tubing lanes and a Magic Carpet that brings you back to the top of the hill. In addition, there’s a large snow play area and a heated deck with a snack bar serving hot cocoa and adult beverages.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Ride the free Red Line bus toward Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge to stop 19.
Mammoth Ski Resort Events & Festivals
Mammoth hosts many family-friendly events through the year. In winter, Woolly and friends host a dance party and parade Saturdays at The Village Plaza. Music and face painting are among the activities.
In April, the Winter Ezakimak (kamikaze spelled backwards) features local athletes racing a 5K uphill event on foot, skis, and bikes. It’s fun to watch! You can ride the gondola to the summit for sunset views and to cheer on the racers.
Where to eat at Mammoth Ski Resort
Yodler Restaurant & Bar. Located by Mammoth Mountain Inn and the Main Lodge, the Yodler has been around for as long as I can remember. The Bavarian-inspired menu features tasty bratwursts, fondue, schnitzel sandwiches, and beer. There’s also a children’s menu and coloring books. The restaurant’s large deck faces the slopes, so it’s a nice place for lunch or apres-ski.
Old New York Deli & Bakery Co. Located by the village, this popular eatery has an extensive breakfast and lunch menu. Perfect for a quick meal or to bring food back to your room.
Burgers Restaurant. From the mountain, you can ski down to Canyon Lodge and take the gondola to The Village. Burgers is located across the street. Simple, good menu and friendly service.
Restaurants in town
Petra’s Bistro and Wine Bar. Owned and operated by brothers Kirk and Robert Schaubmayer, the upscale bistro has delicious food and a cozy ambiance. Located across from The Village, Petra’s menu includes coq au vin, salmon and pasta. The wine list has about 30 wines by the glass, and 350 bottled selections.
SheBuysTravel Tip: If you’re dining sans kids, walk around the side of the restaurant to the Clocktower Cellar. Also owned by the Schaubmayer brothers, the tavern serves 160 whiskies, 26 beers on tap, and more than 50 beers by the bottle. Hidden from the road, if someone hadn’t told us about it, we wouldn’t have seen it.
The Eatery. Located inside the Mammoth Brewing Co., this casual eatery serves pizza, sandwiches and salads. And, of course, the beer is tasty too.
Places to stay in Mammoth Ski Resort
From posh digs to cozy cabins, Mammoth has a wide assortment of lodging options in town and slope-side. Over the years, we’ve stayed in various cabins and condos.
Mammoth Mountain Inn is a classic ski lodge steps from the Main Lodge and ski school. Rooms range from standard hotel rooms to two-bedroom condos. Many rooms have mountain views.
Westin Monache Resort, located by The Village and gondola. The 4-star hotel has studios, one- and two-bedroom suites and family suites. It’s a comfortable property with two outdoor hot tubs, an outdoor heated pool, a fitness room, and a restaurant. After a day of skiing, nothing feels better than soaking in a bubbling hot tub – especially under a gentle shower of snow flurries.
The Village at Mammoth has luxury one- to three-bedroom condos. Furnished in elegant mountain décor, the condos have full-size gourmet kitchens.