More than half a century, Angelinos have flocked to the secluded corner of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s easy to see why. Despite the 8,000-foot altitude, homes for sale in mammoth lakes sprawl of splashy condos and strip malls includes a distinct L . A . feel. Although the surrounding frozen lakes and granite peaks, immortalized from the photographer Ansel Adams, are decidedly un-La, and might hold their own personal with any landscape in Colorado or Canada. With expanded daily flights from the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles, not to mention a flurry newest après-ski offerings, Mammoth is looking to draw skiers from beyond the Golden State.
1) SIBERIAN SPA
Imagine an extensive white expanse of the items appears like frozen Siberian tundra, dotted with natural hot springs and surrounded by 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 follow the S.U.V.’s past the airport five minutes east of Mammoth Lakes and revel in a steaming soak, free of cost. For further privacy, cross the road to Wild Willy’s, an even more secluded spring, which takes a 20-minute trek and a couple of snowshoes.
2) From 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, using its bark-wood ceiling fixtures and 1920s-era fireplace, also happens to have an impressive wine collection and also 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). Prior to being seated, possess a mulled wine ($5) or hot cider ($4) by the fire.
3) PANCAKES AND BISCUITS
Before showing up in the slopes, top off on pancakes and black-and-white memorabilia at 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 40 years, 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, get a homemade pie ($13.95) – apple, apricot, cherry. Get there early because 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 yourself on the slopes and exchange your gear, or switch your snowboard for a set of skis. Not bad for under $40 (a minimum of for beginner skiers).
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5) FRESH TRACKS
With over 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 start on Eagle and adhere to the sun over to Main or perhaps the backside of your mountain (to protect yourself from lift lines, reverse the order). Or take the gondola from Main towards the summit, 11,053 feet above sea level, where you can find a restful spot for hot chocolate. Marvel at 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, that offers scattered glades in addition to gorgeous views of the Minarets, a majestic series of jagged granite peaks.
6) SOUTH From The BORDER
Lunch on Mammoth typically involves Mexican fare. Should 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 even 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 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, head to the Yodler (10001 Minaret Road; 760-934-2571), a Swiss-style chalet off of 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 some spot in the center of the village this past year.
7) ART PARK
Take Chair 10 as much as ski down a number of wide-open runs like Easy Rider or Solitude that stay powdery throughout the day. Or try Quicksilver, a well-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 its rails and steel structures. Mammoth also recently opened the Stomping Grounds, a terrain park filled with jumps, jibs as well as 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 along with the backyards of condos, linking the mountain with the village.
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8) GROWLERS AND PASTRIES
Thankfully, après-ski at Mammoth fails to involve bad cover bands. If anything, it involves its eponymous microbrew. Insiders make their strategy to a warehouse converted many years back into a beer-tasting room for your 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 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, much like the inside of a gingerbread house. The shop 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), which takes up up to 50 % from the cafeteria at McCoy Station, a midmountain gondola station up in 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 really is 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 feels as though a spaceship as you may gaze up with the mammothllakes through its glass roof. Then feast on dishes ranging from a rack newest Zealand lamb to grilled chicken with risotto (foods 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 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 a strict door policy (“No snowboard gear”). The crowd sipping pricey cocktails is a mix of slovenly clad snowboarders and dressed-to-impress partygoers, all crammed within its fire-engine red walls. Heat with a burning mango ($12), a jalapeño and vodka concoction, and settle set for an evening of individuals watching.
11) OLYMPIC WORKOUT
Lately, Mammoth Lakes has turned into a year-round hub for Olympic and pro athletes interested in our prime altitudes and easygoing ethos. A great 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 as well as a yoga studio. You may even bump into the New York City 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) in town. His color photos (prints start at $149) of nearby canyons, lakes and mountain vistas are ubiquitous out and about, as is the person himself. Vern’s scruffy yellow jacket and unruly hair have already been a familiar presence at Mammoth since the early ’70s. He or she is a contemporary-day version of Ansel Adams, who greater than anyone put this corner of California about the map.