Every summer, 1.5 million visitors pass through the gates of Yosemite National Park. Unless you get to one of those gates at sunup, admission can mean idling on an access road for hours. Why battle Yosemite's traffic when you can go to Mammoth Mountain-located on the eastern edge of the national park-and bike, hike, fish, golf or relax without wasting time behind the wheel?
Mild temperatures and California sunshine provide the perfect weather; Mammoth provides the singletrack (80 miles of it). The fit can brave the climb to the 11,053-foot summit, breaking for refreshment at canopied water stops, while the less ambitious can board the gondola for a scenic seven-minute ride to the top.
Anglers will want to pack their permits and tackle. Fishing bliss abounds in the crystal blue mountain lakes and streams of the High Sierra. Beginners needn't worry: The Orvis Flyfishing School will show you how to outwit the region's legendary golden trout. If golf is your game, let the pros at the Sierra Star-California's loftiest 18-hole course-guide you to your best game.
Come evening, unwind with a stroll through the new 20-acre pedestrian Village at Mammoth. Or kick back with a pale ale at Hennessey's Tavern or Dublin's in Mammoth Lakes, and toast your cleverness. A national park-caliber vacation, minus the crowds: brilliant.