If you’re a ski bum heading to Mammoth, California, to ski, you don’t really care about where you sleep at night. You don’t care about down pillows, ski valets, or the quality of the concierge. All you need are hot showers, free internet, a heater to dry your boots in the room, and a location that’s close to the mountain and the bars. Free morning coffee would be nice. If you can bring your dog into the room, that would be an extra bonus.
Introducing Mammoth’s Motel 6. The perfect motel for real skiers. Nothing fancy, just the basics. It’s just south of downtown—walking distance to restaurants—and a short drive from Mammoth Mountain. You can bring your dog. A vending machine provides cheap breakfast and late-night snacks. And there’s internet to upload your powder shots to Facebook after an epic day. And four of you can squeeze into the queen beds if need be, or there’s plenty of room for one of you to crash on the floor in a sleeping bag. And the best part, of course, is that you can get a room for $45. Which is less than half the price of that stuffy bed and breakfast across the street.
As a child ski racer, I stayed at the Mammoth Motel 6 countless time. My mom—or another racer’s mom—would bring a group of us down from Tahoe to a super G or downhill race at Mammoth, and we’d always book a room at the “Mo 6,” as we called it. We’d wax our skis each night in the parking lot—the front desk clerk never seemed to mind the wax shaving or the extension cord stretched outside the room for the iron. Since then, I’ve been back a couple of times and I always appreciate the skiers and snowboarders’ cars and trucks—plastered with Alta or Burton stickers and with dusty Thule boxes mounted to the roofs—that line the parking lot. Clearly, I’m not the only person who’s discovered that the best motel for skiers visiting Mammoth isn’t a swanky, slopeside condo.