Mammoth Lakes, CA has come to be one of my favorite destinations in the world. It’s truly majestic. For anyone who is passionate about snow or mountain sports, a visit here will be one that you remember forever. Here is a list of some of my favorite things to do in the area.
1. Enjoy the Road Trip: Whether you’re making the drive from LA up the magical 395, or heading South from Norcal on the winding and mountainous 89, the trip to remote Mammoth Lakes requires you to cross humbling landscapes that make you feel like a new-age pioneer. Make a point of doing this drive during daylight so that you can witness the Wild West.
2. Ski Mammoth Mountain: Mammoth Lakes is most widely known as a ski town for those who make the journey there in the winter. The resort, Mammoth Mountain, is one of the biggest and most popular ski destinations on the West Coast. It offers terrain for every level of skier, and amazing steeps and chutes for the most advanced. It’s a hub for the large collection of ski & board companies based in Southern California, and it’s usually one of the last resorts to close in the summer (often staying open until the 4th of July). I started skiing here in college and fell so in love with the area that I decided to live here for two seasons. To this day I still have found very few places in the world that rival the beauty of the Eastern Sierra.
3. Hot Tub, or better yet, go to the Natural Hot Springs: Hot tubbing after skiing is a wonderful, wonderful thing. If your hotel has one, you have no excuse. If it doesn’t…you still have no excuse. There are plenty of places where “your friends” are staying, right?! (Watch this). But even better than any old hot tub, are the majestic hot springs just a short drive out of Mammoth. It took me years to find them all, scattered across dirt roads in the high desert. I’ll only give you one hint on how to get there, because it’s supposed to be a secret. Keep your eye out for the little green church. :)
4. Eat an Amazing Breakfast: If you bond over quality coffee with your friends in the morning, then Stellar Brew is the place for you! It’s a mix between a comfy coffee joint and a health food shack. I love the Bomber Bagel and the Acai Bowls. If you’re looking for a really hearty breakfast, check out The Stove, a quaint little breakfast diner near the Von’s grocery store.
5. Eat a Nice Dinner: If you’re looking for a slightly upscale place to eat dinner, Mammoth has a lot of great options! For ambiance, go to Whitebark Restaurant, Bar & Lounge. For upscale Mexican, go to Gomez’s. My new absolute favorite, in every regard, is the Mammoth Tavern.
6. Day trip to Mono Lake: Visiting Mono Lake is sort like walking onto a different planet. To get to the lake you must drive into the desert mono basin, walk through the brush, and arrive at a shoreline filled with tufa towers. It’s an amazingly peaceful place and a vital habitat for millions of migrating birds.
7. Day trip to Bodie State Historic Park: This place gives me the heebie jeebies, but at the same time, makes me feel like a little kid in a theme park. I’m a nut for pioneer history and culture from the gold mining era. Bodie is one of the last unrestored ghost towns in the US and is described as “a town frozen in time, in a state of arrested decay”. Just take a day trip up North on the 395 during Summer to check it out! Note that it’s closed during the winter.
8. Devil’s Postpile in the Red’s Meadow Valley: Most accessible in the summer (though accessible on skis or snowshoes), Devil’s Postpile is a crazy rock formation that is definitely worth checking out! The meadow is a beautiful destination for easy hikes and beautiful views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. You have to take a shuttle or bike into the valley.
9. Cross Country Ski at Tamarack Lodge: Visiting Tamarack Lodge is an experience in itself (it’s so cute!) but cross country skiing makes it way more fun. I recommend this for anyone. It’s goofy and weird to learn, but lots of fun if you are adventurous! There are lots of roads with tracks and it’s an incredible workout! If it’s too cold for you to go on your usual run, bundle up and try this!
Photos are property of Abe Kislevitz and Christine Donaldson