FOR over half a century, Angelinos have flocked to this secluded corner of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s easy to see why. Despite the 8,000-foot altitude, mammoth homes for sale sprawl of splashy condos and strip malls includes a distinct L . A . feel. Although the surrounding frozen lakes and granite peaks, immortalized by the photographer Ansel Adams, are decidedly un-La, and will hold their very own with any landscape in Colorado or Canada. Together with expanded daily flights through the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles, not to mention a flurry of new après-ski offerings, Mammoth is hoping to draw skiers from past 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 join in, too. There are no formal signs or footpaths – just keep to the S.U.V.’s beyond the airport a few minutes east of Mammoth Lakes and revel in a steaming soak, free of cost. For more privacy, cross the road to Wild Willy’s, a far more secluded spring, which requires 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, with 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 combination platter of elk medallions, grilled quail and pork marinated in wine on the bed of spicy mashed potatoes ($30). Before being seated, possess a mulled wine ($5) or hot cider ($4) through the fire.
3) PANCAKES AND BISCUITS
Before hitting the slopes, top off 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. In excess of 4 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, get a homemade pie ($13.95) – apple, apricot, cherry. Arrive early because the place fills up fast.
4) BLACK TIE SKIING
Experts from Black Tie Ski Rentals (760-934-7009; blacktieskis.com) should come in your condo and fit you for skis or snowboards. Heck, when 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 pair of skis. Not bad 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). There are actually three lodges: Eagle, Canyon and Main. Skiers trying to find soft powder and fresh-groomed runs begin with Eagle and follow the sun over to Main or the backside of your mountain (to prevent lift lines, turn back the order). Or take the gondola from Main to the summit, 11,053 feet above sea level, to find a relaxing destination for hot cocoa. 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, off the summit’s less crowded backside, which provides scattered glades along with gorgeous views from the Minarets, a majestic number of jagged granite peaks.
6) SOUTH In The BORDER
Lunch on Mammoth typically involves Mexican fare. Should you can’t get the new Roving Mammoth, a bright orange snowcat that doubles like a food cart, serving up burritos ($5.50) – you may even track the snowcat’s whereabouts on Twitter – there are pulled-pork nachos ($11.42) in 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, go to the Yodler (10001 Minaret Road; 760-934-2571), a Swiss-style chalet from 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 in the center of the village last year.
7) ART PARK
Take Chair 10 as much as ski down a couple of wide-open runs like Easy Rider or Solitude that stay powdery through the day. Or try Quicksilver, a nicely-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 packed with jumps, jibs and an Acrobag – which resembles a giant blue moon bounce – to train flips. Nonsnowboarders should consider the newly carved Village Ski Back Trail, a scenic path that meanders past pine trees as well as 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 something, it involves its eponymous microbrew. Insiders make their way to a warehouse converted quite a while directly 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 filling up their growlers with IPA 395 ($13), the 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), which takes up almost half in the 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 actually 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 while you 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 (meals 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 around 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 mixture of slovenly clad snowboarders and dressed-to-impress partygoers, all crammed within its fire-engine red walls. Warm up having a burning mango ($12), a jalapeño and vodka concoction, and settle in for a night of people watching.
11) OLYMPIC WORKOUT
In recent times, Mammoth Lakes has developed into a year-round hub for Olympic and pro athletes fascinated by the top altitudes and easygoing ethos. A fantastic byproduct is the state-of-the-art facilities in the Snowcreek Athletic Club, which resembles a giant 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 might even bump to the New York Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi training within 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 out and about, as is also the person himself. Vern’s scruffy yellow jacket and unruly hair have been a familiar presence at Mammoth since the early ’70s. He or she is a modern-day version of Ansel Adams, who greater than anyone put this corner of California about the map.