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Mammoth Mountain -Spring Break

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I wanted to get some input from Bears on Mammoth Mountain.  I have searched the site and there doesn't seem to be as much info on Mammoth as some other places so I am asking for some help.  We have done a Colorado spring break the last 3 years and wanted to head back to Aspen/Snowmass this year.  Mother nature really hasn't cooperated with the snowfall in most of Colorado and I am a little hesitant to book anything this month given the conditions this year.  Our spring break is late March/early April.

I have been looking at locations that seem to have a good base and the Mammoth and Tahoe areas have done pretty well this season.  Also, Tony Crocker gives it a 5 rating on his spring skiing conditions so that's a plus as well.  Here's our situation, there are 5 of us, me, wife and three boys, 13, 11 & 8.  We are all comfortable on blues and most blacks.  My wife and oldest son can do double blacks no problem.  My questions are:
1)  When I look at the terrain at Mammoth it looks like it would fit the bill for us, am I right?  Is there enough to keep you interested for  week?
2)  Lodging options, where would you stay?  We had a condo in Snowmass but have stayed in hotels as well, either one is fine by me.
3)  Best way to get there, we live in Chicago.  Flying into Reno and driving - this seems like the shortest route, any other suggestions?  Getting there seems like the biggest drawback to Mammoth

Any other thoughts would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks.
post #2 of 5
I'll take a stab at this although I must preface by saying I have never been to Mammoth (but have been to Lake Tahoe).  As far as conditions and terrain go...you are golden there.  Mammoth's season lasts very late and they have gotten hit with lots of snow.  Your time frame is just fine for Mammoth.  It also has terrain (and lots of it) for all abilities so all of you would enjoy it.

As for lodging I would check Tripadvisor.com.  We were looking at the Westin...while expensive seemed to be very conventient to the slopes.  Mammoth appears to have LOTS of lodging choices some of which are very economical.  Do a search on this board under "Mammoth Lodging" as well.

Getting there is indeed a challenge.  Driving from Reno in the winter is really your best bet.  MMH (Mammoth Airport) also has direct flights from Reno, San Jose and LAX I believe.  I would check Kayak.com and see if you can get go ORD-LAX-MMH or ORD-RNO-MMH.  I have not made the drive but supposedly it is an easy 3.5 hour drive from RNO.  Just price the airfare out.

That time of year there are lots of bargains normally to be found.  You might also want to call their travel department and see what they can come up with for you.  Mammoth is definitely on my "to do" list.....I was going to try to get there in March this year but decided on Telluride instead.  Good luck!

post #3 of 5
I've skied at Mammoth for many years and hopefully can help.

Spring is generally pretty awesome, and this year looks to be at the high end of awesomeness given the current 8-12' base.  We go every year for our spring break (although ironically, we are tentatively heading your way to Colorado for spring break this year).

Last year we were there in April for our spring break and actually had some powder days because a storm came through.  However, you can end up with some slushiness in the late afternoon (if it's warm there are some spots that get slushy--we just stay high on the mountain until our last run and avoid this).

Answers to your specific questions:

1.  The 5 of you should have absolutely no problem finding skiing for all abilities; my family is 6 of varying abilities (with several black diamond skiers) and we do 1 week trips there all the time and never get bored.  There are so many different lines to try off of the top ridge (from the upper gondola and Chair 23)  and also off of Chairs 5, 9 (Cloud 9 Express), 3 (Facelift Express), 23 and 25 (and more) that you never run out of new experiences.  There is an unlimited variety of blues all across the mountain to be explored as well.  So terrain-wise this should fit the bill.

2.  For lodging, Mammoth has lots of condos and the commonly used differentiation is "slopeside/walk to lifts"; "in town on shuttle"; and "in town not on shuttle," with pricing that is generally proporionate to how near you are to the lifts.  There are technically 4 base areas: Main Lodge (the only lodging there is Mammoth Mountain's lodge, so you pay resort-type prices); Canyon Lodge (there are a number of private condos close to this); Eagle Lodge (ditto) and The Village (which is on the edge of town but there's a gondola from here to Canyon Lodge) (the Westin and some other high-priced lodging is here, as well as some private condos).  Note that "town" is several miles from the main lodge and one or two miles from Canyon and Eagle lodges, so most dining options and stores are not near the lodges (there are restaurants in and near the Village).

Lodging-wise, for my family for a spring trip, I like to stay in a condo in town (better pricing, near restaurants and stores, typically no weather issues (note that Mammoth does a great job of keeping its roads usable in storms, but chains are usually required)) and base our skiing out of Canyon Lodge.  What is awesome about Canyon Lodge (which doesn't seem to exist at any other resorts that I've visited in the west) is that they've got pay ski lockers, and we just get 2 of these at the beginning of our trip and keep them all week and store all of our skis and boots in them each night so that we don't need to schlepp them to and from the mountain every day [ASIDE--many resorts have an overnight ski check for about $5 per pair of skis (and you've still got to carry your boots somewhere); you can see how this can add up for a family of 6; with the ski locker, you can (with efficient packing) store 3-4 pairs of skis, poles and boots in a single locker for (I think) $2 per night].  Unless there's a major storm, there's no problem driving to and from Canyon Lodge each day.  As an alternative to this (if you want to be at a "walk to lifts" spot) I would suggest that you find a condo near Eagle Lodge or Canyon Lodge.  There are several Mammoth-specific rental agencies that represent condo owners and you can plug in your date and other requirements (no. of bedrooms, preferred location) and get a list of options.  Also, a number of Mammoth condo owners do direct rentals through VRBO and similar websites.

3.  Getting there--this can be the problem, and this is what (in a sense) makes Mammoth so great for those of us who live in LA because it cuts down on the number of travellers from afar who come to Mammoth (no offense meant; but less travellers from afar=shorter lift lines).  In winter the road from Reno is often closed, but by spring, absent a big storm, I would assume it is open.  It's 300 miles from LA to Mammoth so that's a 5 hour drive (through some pretty spectacular high desert with great views of the eastern Sierra and the mountains that border the west side of Death Valley; there is no mountain driving on this route, although in really intense storms there can be snow).  There is air service to Mammoth but I think it's pretty pricey (you should check, though).  Mammoth is not really accessible from the SF Bay area during winter because to get through the Sierras you've got to go via Tahoe (so why not just ski there, and that's an awesome alternative) or on a very long southern route that takes you far out of your way.

Good luck.  If you are actually going there and you want some specific condo recommendations feel free to PM me.
post #4 of 5
 A lot of great information here.  I'll just share my Mammoth experience.  I went to Mammoth last season in January.  We drove down from South Lake Tahoe (flew into Reno).  In good road conditions it's a three hour drive from Reno to Mammoth.  Last season, Horizon air only had flights from LAX to Mammoth, Reno to Mammoth wasn't an options.

The mountain is huge, lots of different areas to explore, and plenty to keep a diverse group entertained for a week.  I'm in love with the mountain and can't wait to get back there.

For a group (family) I would definately explore all of the condo options.  But, my one trip experience is with the Mammoth Mtn. Inn.  It's located at the main lodge base, but without the main lodge prices.  They have lots of amenities at the Inn, the best one being that you're about 15 yards from the gondola and lift when you walk out the front door.  Also, they have complimentary ski storage there.  

More details about the Inn here:

I booked through thier central reservations and combined lodging with lift tickets for more savings.

Enjoy your trip and post a report.  
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the suggestions.  It's looking more and more like it could be a Mammoth spring break.
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