A Mountain Lover's Posh Year-Round Paradise

Pick your sport—ski, board, hike, fish—and you’ll find it here all wrapped in style.

The sky-scraping peaks at the southern end of the High Sierra may look impenetrable, especially in winter when they’re blanketed by snow deep enough to bury houses. But drive west from I-395 toward Mammoth Lakes, and you’ll discover these mountains aren’t as ominous as they seem. Here’s an outdoor-lover’s year-round paradise, with a sparkling mountain resort, lively village and low-key town, excellent lodgings, and laid-back locals who know they’ve found a mighty sweet spot in the Sierra to call home. What’s more, the region is easily accessible by air, with newly expanded service to both northern and southern California.

Most people think of Mammoth as a wintertime destination—and it’s easy to see why. The 11,000-foot peaks here are home to one of the state’s largest alpine resorts, Mammoth Mountain . The adjacent mountain caters to the snow-loving crowd with bars, restaurants, and boutiques; it’s a great place to relax after a day on the slopes. Other snow fun includes dog-sledding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing—check out the exceptional trails near Tamarack Lodge , with a top-notch French restaurant and haute-rustic lodging on site.

Summer brings exhilarating hiking, backpacking, and chances to catch trout in high-country streams and lakes. Miles of trails are open for lift-assisted mountain biking at Mammoth Mountain—an incredible way to access alpine wildflower displays. Come fall, quaking aspen paint the slopes gold—a secret season that’s exquisitely beautiful but surprisingly uncrowded (and a great time to hunt for off-peak deals).