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South Lake Tahoe for four days...am I nuts to take a day trip to Mammoth?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hey guys. I will be in South Lake Tahoe for three days of skiing the first week of March. I am mostly an Eastern skier having been out west just once. Skied Vail, Breck and Keystone on a trip 15 years ago.

I was planning on hitting Squaw, Heavenly and then Kirkwood. I am an intermediate/advanced skiier who, at 38, now enjoys the blacks/blues without the bumps and mostly on piste...nothing too crazy! Squaw and Heavenly are definites but Kirkwood is up for debate. Mammoth is just close enough to be tantalizing!

I saw on Mapquest that Kirkwood is about 33 miles south (49 minutes) from South Lake Tahoe. Mammoth Lakes is 141 miles south (3 hours) on Route 395 which looks to be a straight shot. Question is it worth getting up at 4:30-5:00 in the morning and driving for three hours to get to Mammoth or should I stick with Kirkwood?

Thanks,

Marc
post #2 of 16

well...

personally I think there's plenty of great skiing at kirkwood and squaw and alpine but if you really want to check mammoth, you could go for it.
Weather will play a big role. If there's a storm obviously you won't make the drive. But even if there's just some nice powder, best to make a beeline to the nearest slope. But if the weather's sunny and the conditions fairly stable, then the drive would be beautiful and it might be worth it for the higher up snow.
I think the worst part would be the drive back at night...that's a lot of driving for one day and you'll be all tired from a day on the slopes.
Personally, if you've never been to a resort, the first day you spend a lot of time just figuring things out. So it might be worth just going to kirkwood (or even squaw) and just really getting to know it over a few days. That's what I like to do when I go somewhere new.
post #3 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by gores95
Hey guys. I will be in South Lake Tahoe for three days of skiing the first week of March. I am mostly an Eastern skier having been out west just once. Skied Vail, Breck and Keystone on a trip 15 years ago.

I was planning on hitting Squaw, Heavenly and then Kirkwood. I am an intermediate/advanced skier who, at 38, now enjoys the blacks/blues without the bumps and mostly on piste...nothing too crazy! Squaw and Heavenly are definites but Kirkwood is up for debate. Mammoth is just close enough to be tantalizing!

I saw on Mapquest that Kirkwood is about 33 miles south (49 minutes) from South Lake Tahoe. Mammoth Lakes is 141 miles south (3 hours) on Route 395 which looks to be a straight shot. Question is it worth getting up at 4:30-5:00 in the morning and driving for three hours to get to Mammoth or should I stick with Kirkwood?

Thanks,

Marc
I have driven to Mammoth from South shore and 4-5 hrs is about right in good weather. It can be done in a day (a long one). I leave at 4am from my house to ski at Tahoe area and many times drive back the same day. Don't drink too much after skiing tho. Why not stay the night at Mammoth and relax for the night and drive back at 4am for the following days skiing. Just a thought. Is the whole trip worth it? If you want to ski Mammoth, which I really like, it is,if the weather is to your liking, at Mammoth. Mammoth gets a bit of wind and fog at times making the Tahoe area better on those days. Last minute decisions are ok except for the room reservation.
post #4 of 16
From South Shore, you're best off going over Kingsbury to the 395, and taking that south to Mammoth. Highway 89 is likely to be closed.

The trip should take about ~3 hours each way.
post #5 of 16
Stick with Kirkwood. Mammoth is great but the enjoyment would be taken out of it with the travel.
post #6 of 16
That's a loooooooooooong drive for one day. Easily 3 hours from the South Shore. Can be done, but boy will you be road weary at the end.
post #7 of 16
i'd skip out also. the drive there and back is 6 hours total. if you just gotta go to see it, i'd go the night before. its big enough that you want a full day to ski it and get a feel for it. cramming it in just cant be done,imho.
post #8 of 16
I agree...with all of the options you have around Tahoe why waste valuable ski time driving?

You might want to check out Alpine Meadows - plenty of good skiing for a day and cheaper than Kirkwood ($39 vs. $58 I think)
post #9 of 16
that would be totally nuts!
post #10 of 16
By all means do as you please, but the day trip to Mammoth from SLT sounds nuts to me, particularly since every ski area will be new to you anyways and 3 days is not much time to work with. If you are locked into SLT for lodging then I'd do two days at Heavenly broken up by one day via ferry boat to Squaw (if they still offer that service). Heavenly has a lot of intermediate terrain which you may like and this approach would minimize driving. Or if you like to do a little exploratory driving do as you were thinking; one day each at Heav, Squaw, and Kirk. Last year I went to Kirkwood (3 days) and Heavenly (1 day) for the first time each and except for Heavenly's lake views I preferred da wood. Tons of intermediate terrain is not, however, Kirkwood's strong suit. If you are really set on Mammoth (a worthy goal from what I'm told), forget SLT and spend all three days there.
post #11 of 16
I think it would be overly ambitious to think you can squeeze in a trip to Mammoth. Yes it's a straight shot on 395 but over 2 or 3 passes on two lane roads. Meanwhile you're hitting the other two big California areas in Squaw and Heavenly. I suggest that you'd get a better feel for California skiing by hitting a smaller area and the obvious choices would be Kirkwood if the road is open, otherwise Sierra at Tahoe. At a stretch you might consider heading up to Mount Rose. It might be as close as Kirkwood. Enjoy.
post #12 of 16
This is a lot like being in Salt Lake City and deciding to drive to Targhee or Jackson rather than skiing Snowbird or Alta. Definitely good skiing, but given your short stay and the fact you will be passing up on Kirkwood, probably not the best choice.

If skiing at Squaw and Mammoth appeal to you, why are you skiing at Heavenly for 2 days? Go to Kirkwood.
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider
If skiing at Squaw and Mammoth appeal to you, why are you skiing at Heavenly for 2 days? Go to Kirkwood.
Actually my first idea was to do Squaw, Heavenly then Kirkwood. Not sure of the order I'll play that by ear. I might try the ferry service across Lake Tahoe to Squaw. Anyone been on that and is it worth it?

I guess it really would be too much hassle to do Mammoth. It looks good on paper (only 140 miles or so each way) but it would be a LOT of driving.

Thanks for the replies!

Marc
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by gores95
It looks good on paper (only 140 miles or so each way) but it would be a LOT of driving.
It's 'only' 35 miles to Kirkwood but it may as well be 140 miles too in bad weather over a pass. Meanwhile I just checked and Mount Rose is only 40 miles away (over the highest maintained pass in the lower-48 ?), Northstar 45 miles (over a smaller pass), Squaw and Alpine 50 miles (over no pass). All ballpark numbers. I think the ferry thing is a bus to Squaw and ferry back, or vice versa. In any event it should be a spectacular experience with a lot of time wasting as well.
post #15 of 16
Forget about it! You will be sorrounded by world class resorts at South Shore. Rather than spending time and money driving to Mommoth, have a nice dinner then hit the clubs at South Shore!! Who knows - you may actually make money!!
post #16 of 16

Tahoe/Mammoth

Gores 95. Better idea than the long driver to Mammoth. Ski Squaw, Heavenly and Kirkwood. If you really like one of these,return to that resort on day 4. OR you like on piste, no bumps. Some really nice cruiser run at Northstar and/or Sierra at Tahoe. Alpine meadows good and reasonable all 3 are med/large resorts. Or jump over Donner summit and ski Sugar Bowl some really long runs off of Lincoln Chair. Also you can't ski all of Squaw, Heavenly or Kirkwood in one day and you defintely can'tski all of Mammoth in one day. Youre in Tahoe enjoy yourself the snow is not always whiter after a 3 hour drive thats unnecessary and ill advised. Long time Tahoe skier 33 yrs, now living in N.Idaho (we have great snow already). Good luck have a great trip. Pete
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › South Lake Tahoe for four days...am I nuts to take a day trip to Mammoth?