The premier downhill ski and snowboard mountain is, aptly, Mammoth Mountain (800 Mammoth, ski school 760/934-0685, snow report 760/934-6166, http://mammothmountain.com, lift hours daily 8:30 a.m.–4 p.m.). Whether you’re completely new to downhill thrills or a seasoned expert looking for different terrain, you’ll find something great on Mammoth Mountain.
More than two-dozen lifts (including three gondolas and nine express quads) take you up the 3,100-foot vertical rise to the 3,500 acres of skiable and boardable terrain (plus three pipes).
If you’re staying at Eagle Lodge, Canyone Lodge,Mammoth Mountain Inn, or the Village, enjoy the convenience of a lift or gondola right outside your lodging door. All these, plus the Mill Café and McCoy Station halfway up the mountain offer hot drinks, tasty snacks, and a welcome spot to rest during a long day of skiing.
The easiest runs on the mountain cluster mostly around the ski school and the lower area around the Mammoth Mountain Inn, and are recognizable for their cute nursery-school names.
If you’re an intermediate skier, runs swing down all over the mountain just for you. Build your confidence by taking the Panorama Gondola up to Panorama Lookout at the top of the mountain, then skiing all the way down the east side of the mountain along the intermediate-to-a-bit-harder ridge runs.
Advanced skiers favor the bowls and chutes at the front of the mountain, and hardcore experts go west from Panorama Lookout to chase the dragon.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition