- Official Resources
- Things to do
- Places to Eat & Drink
Surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the West, residents of this Eastern Sierra town know they’ve got a good thing going. It’s a place that attracts serious outdoor lovers who take to the slopes of Mammoth Mountain in winter, then swap their skis for hiking boots and mountain bikes when the snow melts. Fortunately, these locals like to share their idyllic home. Read on for ideas on what to do in Mammoth or check out these recommendations from a local.
Things to Do in the Summer at Mammoth Lakes
In the summer, come listen to the blues and taste world-class brews during the Bluesapalooza music festival. Ride Mammoth Mountain’s scenic gondola, which climbs to the mountain’s summit at 11,053 feet for jaw-dropping views of surrounding high-altitude peaks. Fly-fish in clear mountain streams and high alpine lakes. Take a stroll or ride your bike in Mammoth Lakes Basin.
Visiting hikers in particular will love the Little Lakes Valley, a spectacular, glacier-carved canyon bursting with lakes and wildflowers. And golfers can find out if elevation affects their game at two of the highest courses in the state: Sierra Star Golf Course and Snowcreek Golf Course, where players enjoy views of the Sherwin Range, Mammoth Mountain, and the White Mountains.
Things to Do in the Winter at Mammoth Mountain
In winter, Mother Nature is very good to Mammoth Lakes. The mountain town’s signature peak, Mammoth Mountain, gets more than 30 feet of snow on average, so the ski season often lasts well into summer. Mix things up with a day on the slopes at nearby June Mountain, a local favorite that’s ultra-relaxed and family-friendly. Skiing and boarding are not the only ways to get your downhill adrenaline fix—try tubing or surf sledding after dark at Woolly’s Tube Park, where fans of snow and speed of every age can hurtle down the groomed lanes. On select dates during the season, take advantage of the park’s Electric Tubing nights under the moon, stars, and some lights. Or switch things up with the more serene nighttime experience of one of Mammoth's guided full-moon cross-country treks.
Cross-country skiers can glide across the 19-plus miles of groomed trails at Tamarack Cross-Country Ski Center (open to snowshoers as well). When you’ve worn yourself out, retreat to snowbound Tamarack Lodge near Twin Lakes. Unwind in the great room with a mug of hot mulled wine by the fire, then sit down for dinner at the elegantly rustic Lakefront Restaurant.
When spending time on snowy mountains, sometimes it’s good to give your legs a break. Board a 12-capacity snowcat that will whisk you in heated comfort to the expansive views at Minaret Vista on a Minaret Vista Tour, where you’ll also be treated to a spread of snacks and a glass of wine. Another more thrilling option is to book a 1- 1.5- or 3-hour guided snowmobiling tour, where you’ll pilot your own single- or double-seating snowmobile around the Eastern Sierra after learning the basics from your instructor/guide.
Events in Mammoth
Both the town of Mammoth Lakes and Mammoth Mountain host events year-round. In the summer, the three-day Mammoth Lakes Open Air Arts & Crafts Fair features the works of artists and makers of all kinds, plus live music. If you plan on a snow-season visit, check to see if the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix of Snowboard and Freeskiing will be taking place while you’re there—Mammoth hosts it every winter or early spring, and it’s a great way to get an up-close view of serious shredding from multiple vantage points.
Hot Springs at Mammoth Lakes
No matter the season, Mammoth Lakes makes a perfect base camp for exploring local hot springs. Some 760,000 years ago, a massive volcano exploded in this region, creating a network of steaming water underground. Head east to Benton Hot Springs to relax in any of nine outdoor hot tubs at The Inn at Benton Hot Springs. Or cruise south to Keough Hot Springs, first opened as a medicinal and health retreat in 1919. (Stop by the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center for directions to these and other hot springs.)
Where to Eat and Drink in Mammoth Lakes
Year-round, this is a great town for food and drink. Stake your claim at an outdoor picnic table at Mammoth Brewing Company, where more than a dozen artisan beers are on tap. On the menu are such exotic mash-ups as Irish kale salad and pork belly banh mi sandwiches. For an island ambience and oversized multi-person drinks, get your tiki on at Lakanuki, also in the Village, or sip on artisan whiskeys and house spirits at Shelter Distilling. For those looking to book a special occasion dinner or just feel like splurging, the sophisticated Skadi draws inspiration from the cuisine of Norway and the Swiss Alps. For an option that’s more kid-friendly, check out Mammoth Rock ’n’ Bowl, with its restaurant and 12 bowling lanes, a golf simulator, foosball, and arcade games.
Where to Stay at Mammoth Lakes
The focus at Mammoth Lakes may be on the great outdoors, but that doesn’t mean your time spent indoors should be anything less than memorable. In addition to such on-mountain, ski-in/ski-out hotels as Tamarack Lodge and Juniper Springs Resort, there are several hotels in the Village at Mammoth and a nearby upscale Westin Monache Resort with on-site ski rentals. For a more secluded experience, book a rustic cabin, some of which are also ski-in/ski-out. Warmer weather brings a wider selection of more off-the-beaten-path accommodations—Crystal Crag Lodge, Wildyrie Lodge, and Woods Lodge are all summer-only.
Things to Do Near Mammoth Lakes
The southern entrance to Yosemite National Park is about a 45-minute drive away when Tioga Pass is open during the warmer months, making Mammoth Lakes a good base from which to visit El Capitan, the Half Dome, Tuolumne Meadows, and all the other attractions that park offers. Also nearby are the head-scratching geological formations of Devils Postpile and Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. For a drive with impressive alpine scenery, you can’t do much better anywhere in the world than the roughly 15-mile-long June Lake Loop 20 miles north of Mammoth. Take it to the next level by picking up the trail of the Highway 395 Road Trip. Heading north, it will take you through June Lake and further, to such must-see spots as the ghost town of Bodie.