Skiing in Mammoth Mountain

With a ski area of 3,500 acres (1,400 ha), 150 marked trails and 30 lifts, Mammoth Mountain is one of North America’s biggest resorts.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area Overview

Mammoth Mountain ski area is indeed mammoth, although it was named not for this reason, but after the Mammoth Mining Company that operated during the Gold Rush. With 3,500 acres (1,400 ha) of terrain, 150 marked trails and 30 lifts, it’s one of the biggest resorts in North America. The summit is a hefty 11,053 feet (3,369 m) and even the base lodges are at 7,953 feet (2,424 m), making sure that there’s always plenty of snow. Naturally there’s a wide variety of terrain to accommodate every level of skier, including large, open bowls above the treeline, steep couloirs and gullies and, on bad-weather days, the bottom third of the mountain, which offers some top tree skiing/riding. You can also ski June Mountain, 20 minutes’ drive away, with the same lift ticket. Recent extensive terrain park and pipe development has put Mammoth at the forefront of boarding-over half the U.S. snowboard team live in Mammoth.

Beginner Skiing in Mammoth Mountain 

Mammoth Mountain beginners will enjoy the ability to explore most of the resort. Mammoth’s lodges are surrounded by green runs and there are a lot of gentle blues to move on to.

Mammoth’s gargantuan size makes it a great resort for beginners who like to explore. Only the upper reaches of the resort, marked primarily for experts, are off limits to beginners. Most beginners find that while they can ski off many of the chairlifts, navigating from lift to lift requires paying attention to the trail map since there is only one green run from the top of many of the chairlifts, particularly those higher up on the mountain.

Eagle, Canyon and Main Lodges all have an area dedicated to beginners, and green runs surround these areas. From Main Lodge try Gus’s Pasture, St. Moritz and Sesame Street. From Chair 17 at Canyon Lodge there are several green trails, including Roundabout, Gingerbread and Hansel. Eagle Lodge’s six-passenger Eagle Express chair accesses three good long greens: Holiday, Pumpkin and Sleepy Hollow. Once the green trails have been mastered, there are a lot of gentle blues to move on to, and with Road Runner, a blue trail running from the very top of the mountain, a strong beginner/early intermediate can ski or ride from the top of the mountain all the way back to the base area.

Intermediate Skiing in Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Mountain offers intermediate skiers some good tree skiing and interesting blue-black trails to graduate into.

Around 40 percent of the mountain is good for intermediates. Gladed trees off the back of chair 22 and around chairs 12 and 13 offer good intermediate tree skiing with trails such as Surprise, Secret Spot and Bristlecone. Broadway, accessed by Broadway Express quad, and Stump Alley, off Stump Alley Express quad, are also recommended. The Gold Rush Express quad connects with several interesting blue trails, such as Solitude and some blue-black trails, which are basic blues graduating to intermediate/advanced terrain, including Relief, Quicksilver and Haven’t the Foggiest. These trails are marked with a blue square within a black diamond.

Advanced & Expert Skiing in Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Mountain offers a huge amount of terrain to conquer, including mogul fields considered to be some of the most demanding in California.

Advanced and expert skiers have a fantastic choice of terrain in Mammoth Mountain and around 35 percent of the mountain to conquer. Few of the black trails are groomed. Best for moguls are the West Bowl off Face Lift Express, Viva off chair 22, and Roller Coaster from chair 21. These mogul fields are considered to be some of the most demanding in California.

If steep and deep is more your thing, then head for Hangman’s Hollow, Drop Out Chutes, Wipe Out Chutes, Climax Bowl and Paranoid Flats-a very steep and scary traverse to get in-all at the top of the mountain. Couloirs worth a try include Avalanche Chutes, Drop Out Chutes and Wipe Out Chutes. For the very brave, the entry to Phillipe’s Couloir can be found halfway down Paranoid Flats. With nearly 400 inches (122 cm) of snow per year, just about anywhere is good for powder, but the best spots are probably the front side of chair 22 (Shaft, Grizzly) first thing, as this is always first to be cleared of avalanches, followed by the Avalanche Chutes, and then on to Face Lift Express chair for Christmas and China Bowls. By then the top of the mountain should be safe and open and the choices are endless-Huevos Grande, Climax, Drop Out Chutes and Wipe Out Chutes.

There are endless backcountry possibilities off the back of both Mammoth and June Mountains, and untracked powder can often be found at the Dragon’s Tail and Hemlock Ridge days after a storm. Backcountry skiing/riding is permitted, but at your own risk. Contact the Ski Patrol first to check out any avalanche danger. Sierra Mountain Center can provide backcountry guides and there are a number of “out of bounds” trails (e.g. Hole in the Wall), which the ski school is allowed to access with its expert classes.

Boarding & Freestyle in Mammoth Mountain

Many professional snowboarders live in and around Mammoth and June Mountains, which should tell you something.

Mammoth Mountain is one of the top U.S. snowboarding destinations. The Unbound Terrain Parks are known for their innovative design, style and unmatched grooming. From beginners to advanced riders, there’s something for every type of boarder here, with three parks and three halfpipes, including a superpipe. The parks and pipes are groomed every evening and throughout the day.

Unbound Main is visible from Main Lodge, accessed by the Thunder Bound Express quad, and suitable for advanced boarders, with a halfpipe, superpipe, tabletops and jumps. Unbound Canyon, a park and halfpipe at Canyon Lodge, is located on School Yard and caters to beginners. Unbound South, on The Roller Coaster express quad, is designed for intermediate riders and is a rail-lovers’ paradise.

At June Mountain there’s a superpipe and the JM2 Unbound Terrain Park. Many professional snowboarders live in and around Mammoth and June Mountains, which should tell you something…

It’s very easy for boarders to get around the trails as Mammoth is largely a steep resort and therefore not much skating is required. In addition, most of the lifts are chairs, which are much easier to use than T-bars, and the parks also have their own dedicated chairlifts.

Mammoth Mountain Mountain Restaurants

Mammoth Mountain has plenty of mountain restaurants, from full-service gourmet to self-service and barbecues.

There are 13 mountain restaurants offering a wide variety of food and beverages. At McCoy Station, Parallax is a full-service gourmet restaurant featuring Pacific Rim and Mediterranean food and fine wines. The food is reputed to be just as delicious as the view. Also at McCoy Station is the Marketplace, a self-service food court. There’s a games room for children. At Steeps Bar there’s cocktails and coffee to be had, once you are finished or halfway through, as well as pastries and baked goods.

A recent remodel has changed the third floor of the Main Lodge to the Broadway Marketplace. It offers fresh baked bread, a grill, a salad bar and brick oven pizza. The adjacent Tusks Bar serves cocktails and views of Broadway and the Unbound Terrain Park. The Mill Café is a casual place featuring an outdoor bar and a variety of entrées. It’s a favorite ski-in/ski-out spot and on snowy days the indoor fireplace is ideal for snuggling up with a hot chocolate.

At the base of chairs 13 and 14 is Outpost 14, where you can enjoy inspiring mountain scenery and barbecues, chili, snacks, and a variety of beers and wines. At Canyon Lodge, the Canyon Beach Bar and BBQ has a tempting menu and a relaxing, bar atmosphere. At Grizzly Square Food Court, variety is the name of the game. Eagle Lodge Talons Restaurant and Bar is located slopeside, right next to the six-passenger Eagle Express. Come here for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a full bar.


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