In excess of half a hundred years, Angelinos have flocked to this particular secluded corner of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s easy to understand why. Inspite of the 8,000-foot altitude, mammoth mountain homes for sale sprawl of splashy condos and strip malls includes a distinct Los Angeles feel. However the surrounding frozen lakes and granite peaks, immortalized with the photographer Ansel Adams, are decidedly un-La, and may hold their own with any landscape in Colorado or Canada. Along with expanded daily flights through the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles, not forgetting a flurry of new après-ski offerings, Mammoth is hoping to draw skiers from beyond the Golden State.
1) SIBERIAN SPA
Imagine a vast white expanse of what appears to be frozen Siberian tundra, dotted with natural hot springs and encompassed by soaring peaks. Hilltop Hot Spring is well-liked 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, free of cost. For additional privacy, cross the road to Wild Willy’s, a much more secluded spring, which takes a 20-minute trek and a couple of snowshoes.
2) Through 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, featuring its bark-wood ceiling fixtures and 1920s-era fireplace, also happens with an impressive wine collection and also 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 with a bed of spicy mashed potatoes ($30). Before being seated, use a mulled wine ($5) or hot cider ($4) from the fire.
3) PANCAKES AND BISCUITS
Before hitting the slopes, top off on pancakes and black-and-white memorabilia on 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 just 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 since the place fills up fast.
4) BLACK TIE SKIING
Experts from Black Tie Ski Rentals (760-934-7009; blacktieskis.com) may come to the 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 yourself on the slopes and exchange your gear, or switch your snowboard for a set of skis. Pretty good for less than $40 (at least for beginner skiers).
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5) FRESH TRACKS
With 3,500 acres of trails, Mammoth has more variable terrain than most mountains (mammothmountain.com). You will find three lodges: Eagle, Canyon and Main. Skiers searching for soft powder and fresh-groomed runs begin Eagle and follow the sun onto Main or the backside in the mountain (to avoid lift lines, turn back order). Or take the gondola from Main for the summit, 11,053 feet above sea level, to find a calming destination 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, that provides scattered glades along with gorgeous views of the Minarets, a majestic combination of jagged granite peaks.
6) SOUTH OF THE BORDER
Lunch on Mammoth typically involves Mexican fare. Should you can’t discover the new Roving Mammoth, a bright orange snowcat that doubles as being a food cart, serving up burritos ($5.50) – you can also track the snowcat’s whereabouts on Twitter – you will find pulled-pork nachos ($11.42) at the Mill Cafe (760-934-0675), a festive après-ski spot in 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 well over 200 tequilas and fittingly mammoth margaritas, relocated to a spot in the center of 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 nicely-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 the rails and steel structures. Mammoth also recently opened the Stomping Grounds, a terrain park filled with jumps, jibs plus an Acrobag – which resembles a giant blue moon bounce – to rehearse flips. Nonsnowboarders should use the newly carved Village Ski Back Trail, a scenic path that meanders past pine trees and the backyards of condos, linking the mountain together with 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 revolves around its eponymous microbrew. Insiders make their strategy to a warehouse converted quite a while back into a beer-tasting room for that 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), the local favorite, or grabbing kegs and cases to travel. Another favorite spot among Mammoth’s growing international crowd is Shea Schat’s Bakery (3305 Main Street; 760-934-6055), which feels, and smells, such as the inside of a gingerbread house. The shop 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), that takes up up to 50 % of your cafeteria at McCoy Station, a midmountain gondola station up through the Main Lodge. Its modern décor and Asian-themed trimmings, including white bark walls, would not look unnatural in downtown Manhattan, save, perhaps, for the tacky TV Yule log fireplace. Yet at 9,600 feet, it is reachable by only snowcat, which picks people up on the Mammoth Mountain Inn (10001 Minaret Road; 760-934-2581; mammothmountain.com). Hop aboard a heated snowcat that feels as though a spaceship as you may gaze up at the mammothllakes through its glass roof. Then feast on dishes ranging from a rack of New Zealand lamb to grilled chicken with risotto (meals are prix fixe at $89, including snowcat ride). For optimal views, arrive as night falls.
10) ROCKIES MEETS HOLLYWOOD
Never mind the gondola D.J. booth and vintage lanterns higher than the bar. Hyde Lounge (6201 Minaret Road; 760-934-0669; sbe.com/hydemammoth) lives around 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 crowd 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 in for an evening of men and women watching.
11) OLYMPIC WORKOUT
In recent times, Mammoth Lakes has become a year-round hub for Olympic and pro athletes fascinated by the high altitudes and easygoing ethos. A fantastic byproduct is definitely the state-of-the-art facilities at 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 plus a yoga studio. You could even bump in the Ny City 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 town. His color photos (prints start at $149) of nearby canyons, lakes and mountain vistas are ubiquitous around town, as they are the person himself. Vern’s scruffy yellow jacket and unruly hair have already been a familiar presence at Mammoth considering that the early ’70s. He or she is a modern-day version of Ansel Adams, who a lot more than anyone put this corner of California about the map.