Yes, Mammoth is the nearest “true big mountain” to Los Angeles. But snow-loving Californians migrate to this windswept and view-blessed knob in the eastern Sierra for reasons beyond the obvious. Mammoth’s natural terrain variety (no. 4) is among North America’s best, delivering quality and abundance across the spectrum: broad beginner boulevards, corduroy fall-line carvers, piney glades, radical steeps. Its 3,500-plus scenic and open acres are sunkissed yet get hammered with more than 33 feet of mostly dry high-altitude snow annually. Lifts (no. 7) are swift and well laid out. Off-slope, the Village at Mammoth has matured into the amenity the diffuse Town of Mammoth Lakes needs. “The biggest weakness at Mammoth” according to one reader: “You can’t ski between Fourth of July and Halloween.” —S.R.
Must Do » Sample the best of Mammoth Brewing Company’s 17 years of awardwinning craft creations in its tasting room.
Bragging Rights » The Paranoids, steep, narrow and technical chutes, drop precipitously off of Mammoth’s crest. Yikes.
What’s New» A high-speed quad replaces Chair 5; direct flights from San Diego and Orange County bring the number of cities connecting to Mammoth Lakes Airport up to five.