Situated nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada range, California’s sparkling Mammoth Lakes region is best known for its skiing—and this winter’s record-breaking early snowfall means powderhounds should be able to hit the slopes all the way into June—but there’s far more to this not-so-quiet mountain town.
What to See and Do
Thanks to the region’s climate—lots of snowfall but otherwise warm, dry weather—springtime visitors can tackle a wide spectrum of outdoor activities in a single day. In the morning, hop on one of Mammoth Mountain’s 28 lifts to take runs on the resort’s 3,500-plus acres of skiable terrain, or take the kids sledding at Woolly’s Tube Park & Snow Play. Youngsters will also love riding the Mammoth Mountain gondola up to McCoy Station to snap a selfie with a life-size re-creation of a woolly mammoth. You’ll have to explain that the creatures most likely never lived in the area (the name was a publicity stunt hatched by miners), but you can soften the blow by letting the kids paw at interactive exhibits on actual native animals, such as bighorn sheep and black bears, at the Eleven53 Interpretive Center.
In the afternoon, you can enjoy plenty of warm-weather outdoor activities. Take a boat out to fish for trout on Convict Lake—one of more than 100 local lakes—or wade into the Upper Owens River or East Walker River, two of California’s best catch-and-release fly-fishing streams. Cyclists will find themselves in paradise too, whether road-biking scenic U.S. 395 or mountain-biking the many trails in Inyo National Forest. Hikers can access wonders such as the steamy Hot Creek Geologic Site in Inyo National Forest or the 101-foot-tall Rainbow Falls at Devils Postpile National Monument.
Where to Eat and Drink
Start the day with a chile verde breakfast burrito or crab cake eggs Benedict at Good Life Café, or carb- and caffeine-load with doughnuts and locally roasted joe at Mammoth Coffee Roasting Co. The hot spot for dinner is Vulcania, a new Italian- American restaurant with a kitchen run by sibling Food Network stars Bryan and Michael Voltaggio in The Village at Mammoth. (The restaurant’s name refers to the ship that brought their ancestors across the Atlantic.) Keep the party going after dinner with a pub crawl: Mammoth Brewing Company is known for its pilsners and IPAs; Shelter Distilling makes craft beer, spirits, and canned cocktails; Distant Brewing boasts a rollicking scene and plenty of sours and stouts; and the recently opened Bar Sierra is decked out with a massive fireplace and vintage arcade games.
Where to Stay
The Westin Monache Resort, Mammoth is the chicest of the area’s many options for accommodations.
Perched above the Village, the hotel features recently updated rooms, mountain-inspired modern art, a heated pool, and an on-site ski valet. No matter where you are on the property, your eyes will be drawn to the surrounding rocky peaks and evergreen forest. That landscape is what brought you here in the first place, after all.