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MAMMOTH vs. Vail???

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hola friends! I'm trying to combine 2 late December/early January vacations in one: Disneyland for our 7 yr. old, and skiing for all of us. Narrowing it down to arrival in LAX, 3 days at Disneyland, then the passion for 12 days!

When last at Vail, we skied 5 days and could have enjoyed, without getting bored, another 2 days, basically on the Front Side (only 1900+ acres). We skied 1 day Blue Sky and the only groomed worthwhile Intermediate trail in the back Bowls, and the next 4 days only the Front. Also really enjoyed dawn walks in the Village (end to end), and evening walks and dinner, throughout the Village again.

Compared to Vail, is Mammoth's 3500 + acres and Village and adjacent Town of Mammoth big and varied enough for 9 days skiing/hanging out (plus 2 days @ June and 1 day at Mt. Baldy in SoCal near Los Angeles)?????

OR....., 2 days Squaw, 2 days Heavenly, 1 day June, and 7 days Mammoth, skipping Mt. Baldy?

Your savvy advice, as always, will steer me in the right direction.

post #2 of 18
Mammoth is legitimately large. In other words, the name fits. (By comparison, I don't know what Heavenly says their skiable acreage is but I do recall it being close to Mammoth's numbers while skiing much, much smaller than Mammoth.) Whether large enough for your nine days is more about your own particularly sensibility, but it's very big. Keep in mind, you will also be down the road from June Mtn., which is definitely worth at least one day.

Remember also that there is absolutely no way of knowing what Baldy will look like at any particular time. This year has worked out to be darn good one. Next year could be vastly different. Also, very limited terrain there for intermediates and about zip for beginners. If you like steeps, bumps, trees, and we have good coverage, you'll dig it.

And, if you like the village thing, Mammoth's got that going on too now.
post #3 of 18
Sounds like a great trip Gpaul. The best itinerary depends on the type (level) of skiing you want, and what you want from after-ski activities. The village at Mammoth is pleasant enough, but might be stretched thin with a week to spend there. The village does not compare to Vail, its much smaller and more laid back. The skiing is huge and has enough area and terrain to keep you in new discoveries for a week. The idea of spending some time at Lake Tahoe could add a lot of variety. In addition to Squaw and Heavenly, there is Sugar Bowl, Alpine Meadows, Northstar, Rose, Homewood, Sierra, and Kirkwood.

The trip that works best really depends on whether you are more comfortable setting up an extended stay in one place, or want to sample a larger variety. Considering you are planning to come over the Christmas and New Year holiday, accomodations need to be reserved well in advance, and you will be paying peak holiday rates at any of the resort locations. All these places have lots to offer, but its hard to make a recommendation without knowing more what your family is looking for as an experience and especially how the 7-year old fits into the skiing vacation (ski school, full day programs, skis with you?).

One recommendation is that you develop a contingency plan for storm weather. It is easily possible that at that time of year, you will lose a day to high wind, heavy snow or just fatigue. Wind holds happen, and kids don't last long in storm weather. Lots to do aroung Tahoe and from Tahoe, it is just a day trip to San Francisco, Napa / Sonoma, Sacramento or Reno if you need a break. Mammoth is truely in the middle of nowhere, but a day trip to Death Valley National Park can be interesting in winter.
post #4 of 18
i would ski vail and take the vail-beaver creek bus to beaver creek a couple of days. i dont think the mammoth village is enough to keep you entertained for that long and i see mostly adults in tahoe. summit county seems to cater to kids better and you could even drive to breckenridge and keystone if you have a car. just throwing out my 2 cents.
post #5 of 18
Mammoth Mountain is a great ski mountain for 1 week +.

Mammoth town is not.

Tahoe is even more disjointed. It's really 2-3 places. South Shore. North Shore/Truckee/Tahoe City. Nevada/Incline Village.

Frankly, Tahoe would require too much movement for kids. Just do Mammoth for 1 week.
post #6 of 18
I agree with everything Ryan and Cirquerider said above. I will add that Mammoth is big , and the weather is extremely variable. This is good because you may be skiing a different hill every day. But, by any standards Mammoth is spartan and crowded on Saturdays (hint: June). I don’t think you will find the posh luxury of Vail there in spite of the village and forget the long evening strolls. That being said Mammoth is for skiing and the skiing should be great especially with nine days to learn your way around.

I can’t think of anyone I would rather ski with than my kids. Given that long of a trip, your seven year old will have no problem keeping up with you… if not kicking your butt!
post #7 of 18

Interactive Mammoth

post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Way to go Bears!

ryan, tks. I'll probably end up skiing at Squaw/Heavenly and Mammoth. Great site you posted!

Cirquerider, our stomping grounds are Steep, Long, Wide Blue and Single Diamond GROOMED trails, some powder ventures if not too deep, and never bumps. I'd say Strong Intermediates with cojones! Our kid will probably do 4-5 full day programs (to be with kids after all), and the rest of the days put us to shame.... Reno for an evening of maybe $50 in blackjack and slots, and Death Valley just became an option, never heard about it! San Francisco and Napa for another trip when we land there, this time we land in LA. Tks.

ski cougar, while Vail and Beaver are probably our favorite combo, this trip is based on Disney, so it must be Mammoth and Tahoe. Three less bodies to worry about in Colorado....

chrisc, we don't need an exciting, glitzy place, just enough of a Town and Village to warrant my 1-2 hour 5 AM walks, and the evening stroll with la familia. Tks.

underhang, hope people don't mis-spell your nom de guerre.... Anyway, why forget about stroll while at Mammoth? Oh, and your right about my kid kicking ass, mine!

I've kept an eye on Mammoth's grooming report, and they seem to hover around 90-100 trails/day consistently, which is a hell of alot, more than even Whistler with their 200 trails! Considering most of their trails are high intermediate and single/double diamonds, seems I could easily spend 7 days without getting bored....?

post #9 of 18
sorry gpaul,
i didnt pay close enough attention; but i'm a guy so i come by that honestly.
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
skicougar, you replied, that's good enough in my book! Gracias!
post #11 of 18
About a month ago I made my first ever ski trip to California (lived in Southern Cal as a kid and visited later for non-ski trips). I skied Kirkwood and Heavenly. Much preferred Kirkwood's ski terrain, including some very nice high angle (steep) groomed runs, but it's all about skiing/riding, not much of a village to walk. It is difficult, however, to discourage a visitor from far away from getting a look at beautiful Lake Tahoe from Heavenly's slopes, plus you could probably incorporate shoreline views of the lake in your morning walks.
My brother skis Mammoth fairly often and speaks very highly of its terrain. In case you hadn't already checked it, the drive from Mammoth to Heavenly or Kirkwood is around 145 miles or 3.5 hours, although in slightly different directions. The drive from Mammoth to Squaw Valley (also very highly regarded) is 170 miles and 4.2 hours.

Kirkwood might be a little less crowded during the holidays than the other areas mentioned.

Drive from LA to Mammoth is 300 miles and 7 hours.
California is a big place and driving long distances in/near the mountains can be subject to delays if you happen to be there during a major snowfall. I would skip Baldy and confine your ski area visits to Mammoth/June and perhaps just one other ski area of your preference. Due to the climate diversity of California, with a little luck your Christmas weather temperatures at Disneyland will be 75 degrees F.

Impressions of Heavenly: , of Kirkwood:
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Tks Jamesj! 75 degrees at Disney, perfecto! I'm toying with the idea of spending our 12 ski days at Mammoth/June, just for the sake of not driving and changing accomodations so often. We did Whistler a few years ago for 9 days and they went by very fast (granted, much bigger mountain). Decisions, decisions.... Then, the year after do Tahoe and Disney sans Mammoth, focusing on SanFran instead of LA. By then hopefully my boy will be disneyed-out (or he'll have no excuse not to please dad) and we can go back to Utah or Colorado!
post #13 of 18
So why not Disney and Utah? Fly from LA to SLC is about 1 and 1/2 hours. Drive time from LA to Park City can be as short as 10 hours. Not that I would ever go over the posted speed limit You could do like I use to do and drive to las Vegas spend the night. There is now plenty of things now for kids in Vegas. Then drive on up to Salt Lake City. The drive from LA to SLC is all on I 15 and is pretty nice once past Las Vegas. Virgin River gorge is like a mini Grand Canyon. It's just a thought. I have nothing against Mammoth, It is great place to ski. fact is I would like to get back there.
post #14 of 18


it's settled then.

the inaugural memorial weekend gathering @ mammoth.

see y'all there.
post #15 of 18
Ryan, Sounds like a plan. Whats the cost of gas in Ca now? Do I have to sell a kidney in order to drive my truck there?
post #16 of 18
I was at Mammoth last week and gas was running as high as $2.80 in Bishop and Mammoth Lakes. Not a bad deal if you consider its currently at $2.46 to $2.67 (regular) in Sacramento area. Now, will that be one kidney or two?
post #17 of 18

There is a early morning direct from LAX that lands in Aspen around 10:00am.
The runway is about 300 yards from a lift and it would be much less crowded at Christmas than any of the others mentioned.
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
Utah49, Mammoth must be good if you yourself want to return! I know your penchant for Utah, and I love it to death, but this time it's all about my kid; well, I also want to explore new places, and hang in LA for a bit. Las Vegas is on our to-do list one of these days, from either Utah or New Mexico. Gracias!

SHREDHEAD, I LOVE Snowmass and Ajax (yet to ski Highlands). But, Disney and Mammoth/Tahoe seems a lot of fun, notwithstanding the crowds in the early stages of the trip (we still have 10 "empty" days skiing). Gracias.
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