As the name implies, Mammoth Mountain is BIG. Boasting 3,500 skiable acres, it’s no surprise that it earns the No. 3 spot for Terrain, and readers have no trouble getting to every last nook and cranny (No. 7, Lifts and Accessibility). Everyone loves to hate on Mammoth’s “Sierra cement” (No. 24, Snow), but if you’ve ever visited California while it’s getting battered by the Pineapple Express, you know that when it snows, it really snows. Besides, heavier snow sticks around longer. Resort laps in June, anyone?
Expect some COVID-related changes this year, including pass holder priority and $1 million in safety investments. Nonetheless, the skiing will surely be as badass as ever. After all, this is a skier’s mountain. Sure, it’s a bit off the beaten path and a little rough around the edges (No. 25, Travel Ease; No. 28, Charm), but anyone who’s ever lapped Chair 23 after a storm or ridden the Unbound parks when they’re dialed knows it’s best to keep their priorities straight. That’s what Mammoth is all about: “A heady experience, unequaled skiing, and friendly people.” — Rick Sorensen
2021 Reader Resort Guide Ranking for Mammoth Mountain: No. 20 in the West
- OFF-THE-MAP TRAIL: If you’re willing to earn a few, The Hemlocks on Mammoth’s backside harbor some of the best in-bounds, hike-to terrain in the Sierras.
- LOCAL TIP: Mammoth is windy. When it starts whipping, stay low. Find some cover and wind-buff stashes in the trees off the Rollercoaster lift or Chair 22.
Read about the Reader Resort Guide’s No. 21 in the West: Heavenly, Calif.
Step deeper into the top 20: Keystone Resort, Colo., No. 19 in the West
Mammoth’s 2020 SKI Magazine Reader Resort Survey Rank: 22nd in the West
Ever since Dave McCoy opened the first rope tow in 1942, Mammoth has had a long history of California ski culture—riding up the lift is like “putting on a favorite old sweater,” says one nostalgic reader. With an average of 400 inches of snow each year, it’s no surprise that Mammoth boasts one of the longest seasons in North America (typically November to at least May; last season the lifts spun until July 28!). Also not surprising, a No. 2 rank for its variety of terrain thanks to 3,100 vertical feet and 3,500 skiable acres on offer. Good thing the lift system is so efficient (No. 10; “Seems like there is a lift wherever you end up.”)
Truth be told, the town of Mammoth is a bit strip mall-ish (Charm, No. 34), but if you go skiing for the skiing there is plenty to keep you entertained (“So much terrain it takes a week to ski it all.”) While readers gripe that it’s not the most convenient place to get to, added flights into Mammoth Lakes continue to make it easier than ever. Once you’re there, be sure to indulge in all the things that make this destination so special, including nearby natural hot springs, catch-and-release fishing, and pond ice skating. But what really sets Mammoth apart from other resorts is the wind buff. These free refills are the best deal in town. — Monica Prelle
- WHAT’S NEW: Skiers flying into Mammoth Lakes through San Francisco or Denver ski free on the day of arrival, starting January 6, 2020.
- DINNER PICK: With its vintage ski collection and Nordic-inspired cuisine, Restaurant Skadi is widely considered the hottest table in town.
- LOCAL TIP: Skip the long powder day gondola line and ski the backside. Chair 14 offers face access, groomers, and glades.
SKI Magazine’s 2019 Review of Mammoth Mountain, Calif.
No resort has fun like Mammoth. It’s huge (well, mammoth, really, at 3,500 skiable acres), and is just as well-known for its season-long spring party scene as its skiing. We love Mammoth for its spirit: Pow-seekers come from all over Cali and the rest of the southwestern U.S. to immerse themselves in the region’s amazing 400 annual inches. The terrain parks scene goes off all season long. You like to have fun? Start here.
What’s New for 2019
- Starting in December, United will fly daily nonstop to Mammoth Lakes from Denver International Airport, the first direct flights east of the Rockies.
Come to Mammoth Mountain for the…
- DINNER RESERVATION Order a tasting flight of Mammoth Brewing Company’s seasonal ales and pair it with a bite from the eatery’s elaborate pub menu.
- FAMILY ACTIVITY Wolly’s Tube Park features six rope tow-served groomed lanes for tubing fun. Slide with the kids or enjoy an adult bevvie on the heated deck.
- LOCAL SECRET Skip the weekend crowds at Mammoth and take a day trip north to sister resort June Mountain, where kids 12 and under ski free and the powder lasts all day.