Mammoth Mountain's massive size and endless variety of terrain has long made it the preferred winter playground for Southern Californians. For good reason. Mammoth has it all: 384 inches of annual snowfall, 3,100 vertical feet, 3,500 acres and stunning Sierra panoramas showcased by endless sunny days. "It really is mammoth!" a reader crows. To top it off, Mammoth usually opens early in the season and closes late. The knock has always been that it lacks amenities, on-mountain and in town. But since Intrawest bought it five years ago, the resort has begun addressing those faults one by one. As part of an $800 million overhaul, new high-speed quads and a gondola have shrunk weekend liftlines. But even during peak days uncrowded slopes can be found for the price of looking. "Lots of wide-open skiing," a reader says. New restaurants are being phased in to replace the old humdrum, poky cafeterias. One of the perennial complaints about Mammoth is access: It usually requires a long car trip. "Really, really, really, really far away," grouses one reader. That problem could be solved soon. Plans are in the works to upgrade the town's airport and bring in direct flights, possibly as early as next season. Progress is moving faster in town, where land is being cleared for a new village. Mammoth devotees are already finding the resort greatly improved, and in a few more years, they should like it even more.
(-) "A long drive from anywhere. Weird people."