More than half a century, Angelinos have flocked to this particular secluded corner of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s easy to see why. In spite of the 8,000-foot altitude, mammoth houses for sale sprawl of splashy condos and strip malls features a distinct L . A . feel. Although the surrounding frozen lakes and granite peaks, immortalized with the photographer Ansel Adams, are decidedly un-La, and will hold their own personal with any landscape in Colorado or Canada. Along with expanded daily flights from your San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles, not to mention a flurry newest après-ski offerings, Mammoth is hoping to draw skiers from beyond the Golden State.
1) SIBERIAN SPA
Imagine an enormous white expanse of the things appears like frozen Siberian tundra, dotted with natural hot springs and in the middle of soaring peaks. Hilltop Hot Spring is popular with locals, however you can take part in, too. There are actually no formal signs or footpaths – just adhere to the S.U.V.’s beyond the airport five minutes east of Mammoth Lakes and appreciate a steaming soak, totally free. For further privacy, cross the road to Wild Willy’s, a far more secluded spring, which demands a 20-minute trek and a pair of snowshoes.
2) With The FIREPLACE
On the other side of town is Tamarack Lodge and Resort (163 Twin Lakes Road, off Lake Mary Road; 760-934-2442; tamaracklodge.com). The rustic log cabin, with its bark-wood ceiling fixtures and 1920s-era fireplace, also happens with an impressive wine collection and the area’s best chef: Frederic Pierrel (cheffrederic.com). The intimate Lakefront R Restaurant serves up a combination platter of elk medallions, grilled quail and pork marinated in wine with a bed of spicy mashed potatoes ($30). Before being seated, have a mulled wine ($5) or hot cider ($4) with the fire.
3) PANCAKES AND BISCUITS
Before hitting the slopes, fill on pancakes and black-and-white memorabilia in the Stove (644 Old Mammoth Road; 760-934-2821), a cozy spot with long wooden booths and old pictures of cattle ranchers on its walls. More than four decades, the Stove has served hearty meals like the Sierra Sunrise (a heap of fried potatoes, peppers, onions and ham topped with eggs and cheese for $9.95). On your way out, pick up a homemade pie ($13.95) – apple, apricot, cherry. Arrive early as the place fills up fast.
4) BLACK TIE SKIING
Experts from Black Tie Ski Rentals (760-934-7009; blacktieskis.com) will come for your condo and fit you for skis or snowboards. Heck, in the event the boots don’t feel snug by midday, Colin Fernie and his awesome team will meet you on the slopes and exchange your gear, or switch your snowboard for some skis. Pretty good for under $40 (a minimum of for beginner skiers).
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5) FRESH TRACKS
With more than 3,500 acres of trails, Mammoth has more variable terrain than most mountains (mammothmountain.com). You can find three lodges: Eagle, Canyon and Main. Skiers searching for soft powder and fresh-groomed runs begin Eagle and stick to the sun over to Main or perhaps the backside from the mountain (to avoid lift lines, turn back order). Or go ahead and take gondola from Main on the summit, 11,053 feet above sea level, to find a restful location for hot cocoa. Marvel on the daredevils who ski off Hangman’s Hollow. Or brave the steep and icy chutes of Dave’s Run or Scotty’s. A safer alternative is Santiago, off of the summit’s less crowded backside, which offers scattered glades and also gorgeous views of the Minarets, a majestic combination of jagged granite peaks.
6) SOUTH Of Your BORDER
Lunch on Mammoth typically involves Mexican fare. If you can’t discover the new Roving Mammoth, a bright orange snowcat that doubles as a food cart, serving up burritos ($5.50) – you may also track the snowcat’s whereabouts on Twitter – there are actually pulled-pork nachos ($11.42) in the Mill Cafe (760-934-0675), a festive après-ski spot on the base of Chair 2 (in true California fashion, its entrance is scattered with beach chairs). Or, for overflowing plates of nachos and fish tacos, go to the Yodler (10001 Minaret Road; 760-934-2571), a Swiss-style chalet away from the Main Lodge. Gomez’s (100 Canyon Boulevard; 760-924-2693; gomezs.com), a Mexican place with over 200 tequilas and fittingly mammoth margaritas, relocated to a spot in the center of the village a year ago.
7) ART PARK
Take Chair 10 as much as ski down a few wide-open runs like Easy Rider or Solitude that stay powdery through the day. Or try Quicksilver, a properly-groomed trail with gently sloped glades and variable terrain. Snowboarders should head to the new terrain Art Park, which made its debut in December and showcases funky artworks affixed to the rails and steel structures. Mammoth also recently opened the Stomping Grounds, a terrain park loaded with jumps, jibs along with an Acrobag – which resembles a huge blue moon bounce – to train flips. Nonsnowboarders should take the newly carved Village Ski Back Trail, a scenic path that meanders past pine trees and the backyards of condos, linking the mountain with the village.
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8) GROWLERS AND PASTRIES
Thankfully, après-ski at Mammoth will not involve bad cover bands. If anything, it revolves around its eponymous microbrew. Insiders make their approach to a warehouse converted quite a while back into a beer-tasting room to the Mammoth Brewing Company (94 Berner Street; 760-934-7141; mammothbrewingco.com). Still in ski gear, they down free samples before filling up their growlers with IPA 395 ($13), a local favorite, or grabbing kegs and cases to visit. Another favorite spot among Mammoth’s growing international crowd is Shea Schat’s Bakery (3305 Main Street; 760-934-6055), which feels, and smells, like the on the inside of a gingerbread house. The store serves up steaming hot chocolate and stocks rows of pastries – cinnamon nut bread, ginger cakes and bread pudding.
9) MIDMOUNTAIN DINING
This winter Mammoth remodeled its swanky restaurant Parallax (800-626-6684; mammothmountain.com), that takes up nearly half of the cafeteria at McCoy Station, a midmountain gondola station up from your Main Lodge. Its modern décor and Asian-themed trimmings, including white bark walls, would not look unnatural in downtown Manhattan, save, perhaps, for your tacky TV Yule log fireplace. Yet at 9,600 feet, it really is reachable by only snowcat, which picks people up with the Mammoth Mountain Inn (10001 Minaret Road; 760-934-2581; mammothmountain.com). Hop aboard a heated snowcat that feels like a spaceship while you gaze up at the mammothllakes through its glass roof. Then feast on dishes ranging from a rack of brand new Zealand lamb to grilled chicken with risotto (foods are prix fixe at $89, including snowcat ride). For optimal views, get there as night falls.
10) ROCKIES MEETS HOLLYWOOD
Never mind the gondola D.J. booth and vintage lanterns on top of the bar. Hyde Lounge (6201 Minaret Road; 760-934-0669; sbe.com/hydemammoth) lives up to its Sunset Boulevard forefather. You will find bottle-service-only booths (from $200), lasers everywhere and Mammoth’s version of the strict door policy (“No snowboard gear”). The competition sipping pricey cocktails is a mix of slovenly clad snowboarders and dressed-to-impress partygoers, all crammed within its fire-engine red walls. Warm up using a burning mango ($12), a jalapeño and vodka concoction, and settle in for a night of men and women watching.
11) OLYMPIC WORKOUT
Recently, Mammoth Lakes has turned into a year-round hub for Olympic and pro athletes drawn to the high altitudes and easygoing ethos. A good byproduct will be the state-of-the-art facilities on the Snowcreek Athletic Club, which resembles a huge barn just outside town. The club recently opened the Double Eagle Spa (51 Club Drive; 760-934-8511; snowcreekathleticclub.com), with earthy massage rooms, Vichy showers and a yoga studio. You may even bump in the New York Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi working out from the weight room.
12) MOUNTAIN MAN
To appreciate the Sierra Nevada range’s jaw-dropping beauty, drop by Vern Clevenger’s gallery (220 Sierra Manor Road; 760-934-5100; vernclevenger.com) around. His color photos (prints start at $149) of nearby canyons, lakes and mountain vistas are ubiquitous around town, as they are the man himself. Vern’s scruffy yellow jacket and unruly hair have been a familiar presence at Mammoth since the early ’70s. He is a contemporary-day version of Ansel Adams, who greater than anyone put this corner of California around the map.