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 lakes homes for sale sprawl of splashy condos and strip malls features a distinct La feel. Nevertheless the surrounding frozen lakes and granite peaks, immortalized from the photographer Ansel Adams, are decidedly un-La, and will hold their very own with any landscape in Colorado or Canada. And with expanded daily flights from your San Francisco Bay area and L . A ., not to mention a flurry newest après-ski offerings, Mammoth is seeking to draw skiers from beyond the Golden State.
1) SIBERIAN SPA
Imagine an enormous white expanse of the looks like frozen Siberian tundra, dotted with natural hot springs and in the middle of soaring peaks. Hilltop Hot Spring is popular with locals, but you can join in, too. You will find no formal signs or footpaths – just follow the S.U.V.’s past the airport 5 minutes east of Mammoth Lakes and revel in a steaming soak, totally free. To get more privacy, cross the direction to Wild Willy’s, an even 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 to get an impressive wine collection as well as 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 over a bed of spicy mashed potatoes ($30). Prior to being seated, have a mulled wine ($5) or hot cider ($4) through the fire.
3) PANCAKES AND BISCUITS
Before striking the slopes, complete 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. For over forty years, 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 the road out, pick-up a homemade pie ($13.95) – apple, apricot, cherry. Get there early as the place fills up fast.
4) BLACK TIE SKIING
Experts from Black Tie Ski Rentals (760-934-7009; blacktieskis.com) may come for 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 some skis. Not bad for less than $40 (at the very least 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). You can find three lodges: Eagle, Canyon and Main. Skiers looking for soft powder and fresh-groomed runs start on Eagle and follow the sun to Main or the backside of your mountain (to protect yourself from lift lines, turn back order). Or use the gondola from Main on the summit, 11,053 feet above sea level, where you can find a relaxing destination for hot chocolate. Marvel in 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 and also gorgeous views of the Minarets, a majestic series of jagged granite peaks.
6) SOUTH Of Your BORDER
Lunch on Mammoth typically involves Mexican fare. When 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 actually pulled-pork nachos ($11.42) on 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, 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 over 200 tequilas and fittingly mammoth margaritas, relocated to some spot in the middle of the village last year.
7) ART PARK
Take Chair 10 approximately ski down a few wide-open runs like Easy Rider or Solitude that stay powdery throughout the day. Or try Quicksilver, a highly-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 as well as an Acrobag – which resembles a huge blue moon bounce – to practice flips. Nonsnowboarders should take 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 together with the village.
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8) GROWLERS AND PASTRIES
Thankfully, après-ski at Mammoth will not involve bad cover bands. If anything, it revolves around its eponymous microbrew. Insiders make their approach to a warehouse converted a couple of years directly 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), the local favorite, or grabbing kegs and cases to look. 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 within 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 can take up nearly half of 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 out of place in downtown Manhattan, save, perhaps, to the 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 feels like a spaceship as you may gaze up with the mammothllakes through its glass roof. Then feast on dishes starting from a rack of brand new 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 over 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 the strict door policy (“No snowboard gear”). The competition sipping pricey cocktails is a mix of slovenly clad snowboarders and dressed-to-impress partygoers, all crammed within its fire-engine red walls. Heat having a burning mango ($12), a jalapeño and vodka concoction, and settle in for a night of people watching.
11) OLYMPIC WORKOUT
Recently, Mammoth Lakes has become a year-round hub for Olympic and pro athletes interested in our prime altitudes and easygoing ethos. A fantastic byproduct is the state-of-the-art facilities in 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 and a yoga studio. You could even bump in the New York City Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi hitting the gym 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 it is the man 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-day version of Ansel Adams, who over anyone put this corner of California on the map.