FOR over half a hundred years, Angelinos have flocked to this particular secluded corner of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s easy to see why. Inspite of the 8,000-foot altitude, houses for sale in mammoth sprawl of splashy condos and strip malls carries a distinct L . A . feel. But the surrounding frozen lakes and granite peaks, immortalized by the photographer Ansel Adams, are decidedly un-L . A ., and might hold their own personal with any landscape in Colorado or Canada. And with expanded daily flights through the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles, not forgetting a flurry of brand new après-ski offerings, Mammoth is seeking to draw skiers from past the Golden State.
1) SIBERIAN SPA
Imagine an extensive white expanse of the items seems like frozen Siberian tundra, dotted with natural hot springs and encompassed by soaring peaks. Hilltop Hot Spring is loved by locals, however you can take part in, too. There are no formal signs or footpaths – just keep to the S.U.V.’s beyond the airport 5 minutes east of Mammoth Lakes and appreciate a steaming soak, cost-free. For additional privacy, cross the direction to Wild Willy’s, a more secluded spring, which takes a 20-minute trek and a couple of snowshoes.
2) Through The FIREPLACE
On the reverse 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, having its bark-wood ceiling fixtures and 1920s-era fireplace, also happens to have an impressive wine collection along with the area’s best chef: Frederic Pierrel (cheffrederic.com). The intimate Lakefront R Restaurant serves up a mixture platter of elk medallions, grilled quail and pork marinated in wine on a bed of spicy mashed potatoes ($30). Before being seated, have got a mulled wine ($5) or hot cider ($4) from the fire.
3) PANCAKES AND BISCUITS
Before showing up in 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 much like the Sierra Sunrise (a heap of fried potatoes, peppers, onions and ham topped with eggs and cheese for $9.95). On the road out, grab a homemade pie ($13.95) – apple, apricot, cherry. Get there early since the place fills up fast.
4) BLACK TIE SKIING
Experts from Black Tie Ski Rentals (760-934-7009; blacktieskis.com) will come to your condo and fit you for skis or snowboards. Heck, when the boots don’t feel snug by midday, Colin Fernie along with his team will meet yourself on the slopes and exchange your gear, or switch your snowboard for a pair of skis. Pretty good for less than $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). There are actually three lodges: Eagle, Canyon and Main. Skiers looking for soft powder and fresh-groomed runs begin with Eagle and keep to the sun up to Main or perhaps the backside from the mountain (to prevent lift lines, reverse the order). Or use the gondola from Main on the summit, 11,053 feet above sea level, where you can find a calming position for hot chocolate. Marvel with 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, from the summit’s less crowded backside, which provides scattered glades and also gorgeous views of your Minarets, a majestic combination of jagged granite peaks.
6) SOUTH In The BORDER
Lunch on Mammoth typically involves Mexican fare. If you can’t discover the new Roving Mammoth, a bright orange snowcat that doubles being a food cart, serving up burritos ($5.50) – you may also track the snowcat’s whereabouts on Twitter – there are pulled-pork nachos ($11.42) on the Mill Cafe (760-934-0675), a festive après-ski spot at 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, visit the Yodler (10001 Minaret Road; 760-934-2571), a Swiss-style chalet off the Main Lodge. Gomez’s (100 Canyon Boulevard; 760-924-2693; gomezs.com), a Mexican place with 200 tequilas and fittingly mammoth margaritas, relocated to some spot during the village just last year.
7) ART PARK
Take Chair 10 around ski down several wide-open runs like Easy Rider or Solitude that stay powdery during the day. Or try Quicksilver, a properly-groomed trail with gently sloped glades and variable terrain. Snowboarders should visit the new terrain Art Park, which made its debut in December and showcases funky artworks affixed to its 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 practice flips. Nonsnowboarders should use the newly carved Village Ski Back Trail, a scenic path that meanders past pine trees and also the backyards of condos, linking the mountain with all the village.
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8) GROWLERS AND PASTRIES
Thankfully, après-ski at Mammoth is not going to involve bad cover bands. If anything, it involves its eponymous microbrew. Insiders make their way to a warehouse converted a few years back in a beer-tasting room for the Mammoth Brewing Company (94 Berner Street; 760-934-7141; mammothbrewingco.com). Still in ski gear, they down free samples before completing 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, just like the inside of a gingerbread house. The store serves up steaming hot cocoa 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), which can take up up to 50 % in 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 can be reachable by only snowcat, which picks people up at the Mammoth Mountain Inn (10001 Minaret Road; 760-934-2581; mammothmountain.com). Hop aboard a heated snowcat that is like a spaceship as you gaze up on the mammothllakes through its glass roof. Then feast on dishes starting from a rack of the latest Zealand lamb to grilled chicken with risotto (foods are prix fixe at $89, including snowcat ride). For optimal views, arrive 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 approximately its Sunset Boulevard forefather. You can find bottle-service-only booths (from $200), lasers everywhere and Mammoth’s version of a strict door policy (“No snowboard gear”). The group sipping pricey cocktails is a mixture of slovenly clad snowboarders and dressed-to-impress partygoers, all crammed within its fire-engine red walls. Warm up with a burning mango ($12), a jalapeño and vodka concoction, and settle set for a night of individuals watching.
11) OLYMPIC WORKOUT
Recently, Mammoth Lakes has changed into a year-round hub for Olympic and pro athletes drawn to the high altitudes and easygoing ethos. A good byproduct is the state-of-the-art facilities with 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 as well as a yoga studio. You may even bump in to the The Big Apple Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi training 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 is also the guy himself. Vern’s scruffy yellow jacket and unruly hair are already 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.