In honor of Mammoth’s record-breaking snowfall, your guide to skiing Mammoth—from which lodge is best, what to do if you don’t ski, where to stay in Mammoth with kids, and where to eat is here—plus insider hacks to make your ski experience the best one ever
“With 28-30” of snow since yesterday afternoon, we just blew through our all-time season snowfall record of 668”. We’ve received 695” of snowfall to date at Main Lodge, making the 22/23 season the biggest in our history!
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To our employees, to this community, to all of you who have battled the elements this season – YOU are the stuff of legends. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 💪🏽 It’s going to be a legendary spring up here and we’ll be open daily through at least July!”
– Mammoth Mountain
Mammoth Lakes, which sits at close to 8,000 feet (if you’re keeping track that’s about 1,600 feet higher than Lake Tahoe), typically has a long ski season but thanks to a record-breaking snowfall this year, Mammoth is slated to stay open for skiing at least through July and quite possibly, as late as August. If you were waiting for a sign to finally get your family up on skis or snowboarding, now’s the time to take advantage of the best (and brag-worthy) conditions. And, as we approach spring, the mountain just gets better and better—more sun, less wind, means less layers.
From world-class ski schools, après ski experiences catered just for kids, a multitude of activities off the slope, and a variety of lodging options to suit your family, Mammoth is a world-class destination that is, lucky for California families, within easy reach.
Whether your family is new to skiing, could use a lesson or two, here are the best places to learn how to ski in Mammoth, what else there is to do off the slopes with toddlers and big kids, which nearby restaurants are kid-friendly, and of course, and which cozy hotels are best for a snow-based adventure everyone will enjoy.
Mammoth is kid-friendly and isn’t the sleepy little town you remember (there are loads of hotel and restaurant options galore—and for foodies, the Voltaggio brothers just opened Vulcania in the Village last year). Add to that a straightforward drive you can handle (it’s about a two-movie drive, with a break in between for a potty break!), or a quick flight, it should become your new winter and springtime tradition.
Everything You Need to Know about Skiing in Mammoth—Especially for Beginners & First Time Skiers
Like we said before, spring in Mammoth means mild conditions, a sunny après scene and the chance to take advantage of the season’s massive snow fall. The mountain itself is large and spread out, offering loads of options for every type of snow play.
Good to Know: On the mountain, there are three lodges: Main Lodge, Canyon Lodge, and Eagle Lodge, which means that even on busy days, the crowds disperse throughout the mountain so you never feel claustrophobic on the slopes. There are free shuttle buses between all three lodges, if you want to hit all the parts of the mountain, but for first timers, we recommend choosing one of the lodges for the day (more on which one we recommend below) and committing to the one spot for ease—especially with little ones.
If You Want Your Kids to Take Lessons at Mammoth: Mammoth Ski and Snowboard School is a stellar program, with patient pros who help the little ones become future shredders—they also offer adaptive lessons so those that may have a disability can still enjoy the rush and excitement of heading down the mountain. Kids group lessons start at three-years old and continue up through adult. Lessons are available at all three lodges.
Good to Know about Skiing with Kids
- Kids 4 and under ski free at Mammoth Mountain with beginner slopes that are wide and groomed—ideal for beginners (no matter their age). All skiers/riders need a valid ticket to load the chairlifts and gondola, so visit a ticket window and show proof of age to get your little ones a free single or multi-day ticket.
- A fantastic family-friendly option is to purchase the Beginner Ticket (available for purchase at a ticket window) and offers lift access to beginner chairlifts at Canyon Lodge (7 and 17), Main Lodge (chairlift 11), and Eagle Lodge (chairlift 15) (as opposed to the entire mountain of lifts) for a discounted rate.
Next-Level Ski Hack: Let’s be honest, getting fit for skis and gear can kind of be annoying—let alone carrying all that gear around from spot to spot. To the rescue? Ski Butlers—an incredibly personal service for ski and snowboarding equipment. Instead of dealing with lines at the ski rental spots around town or in the lodges (and delaying your time on the mountain), Ski Butlers will bring gear to your accommodations—boots, helmets, skis, poles, snowboards, goggles—everything you need for the slopes. Just provide them your stats (height, weight, etc…) and they’ll fit and adjust your gear on-the-spot. They’ll even pick up your gear too so you don’t even need to worry about returning it. Of course, renting gear the old-fashioned way absolutely works as well—and the friendly staff on the mountains will get you the gear you need as quickly as possible.
Good to Know: Another fantastic ski hack? Rather than carry your gear to and from the mountain, you can store your gear slopeside in lockers you can rent. For families, this is a godsend. Private lockers are available at Main and Canyon Lodge.
Related: 10 Skiing Hacks to Memorize Before Hitting the Slopes
Which Mammoth Lodge Is Best for Your Family?
Canyon Lodge: For beginner skiers and first-timers to the mountain who are looking for the quickest and easiest access to the slopes, we recommend Canyon Lodge. From the Village (even more convenient if you stay here), you take the gondola up to Canyon Lodge where you are delivered to the base and have access to two beginner chairlifts. These runs are relatively short compared to Eagle Lodge’s beginner runs but the terrain varies and the crowds (at least when we were there) remained minimal throughout the day compared to the other lodges.
Good to Know: There is also infant care (newborn-23 months) just steps away from the Canyon Lodge gondola with half and full day options.
Eagle Lodge: For skiers and snowboarders that are looking to progress their skills from green to blue, head to Eagle Lodge. Not only does it have the longest green runs on the mountain, there’s also Eagle Playground, that, according to Mammoth, helps burgeoning shredders “gain confidence on freestyle terrain,” and include features like, “gentle rollers, small snow spines, mini-boxes, and jumps that get bigger and longer as you shred through the park.”
Good to Know: Because there is only one beginner ski lift at Eagle Lodge, it can get more crowded.
Main Lodge: The busiest of the ski areas, in addition to some green runs, beginners can also access Woolly’s Woods and Disco Playground—beginner terrain parks and special featured fun zones for kids looking to work on some new skills. Head to this lodge if you are also planning to take the scenic Panorama Gondola up to the top—dropping you off at 11,053 feet and where you can eat at Eleven53 Cafe and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. If you have a lift ticket, you can access the gondola for free. Otherwise, up to 2 kids (ages 12 & under) ride free with each paying adult.
If You Think You’re Going to Ski More Regularly: Right now, if you purchase the 2023/24 Ikon Pass, you can take advantage of the Buy Now, Ride Now Deal—meaning you can use your pass this season at Mammoth (ahem, this season, that will most likely, last until August) and other ski and snowboard destinations.
What to Do in Mammoth with Kids Who Don’t Ski or Snowboard (Or if You Don’t Want to Ski Every Day)Andie Huber
1. Go Snowshoeing or Cross Country Skiing in Mammoth
Take the free, orange bus line to Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center (it’s only 10 minutes from the Village) for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. There are 19 miles of trails to explore with rentals, lessons, and guided tours available. Trails are dog-friendly and fairly flat so if you have a child who can trek it, this is a good spot for a beginner snowshoer.
2. Go Snow Tubing in Mammoth
Bomb down the slick snow lanes at Woolly’s Tube Park for a thrilling good time. For those 42” and smaller who aren’t yet tall enough to enjoy the ride, Woolly’s has a fun snow park area and heated deck serving up hot cocoa and adult beverages. Access to the snow park is easy—simply take the (free) red bus line here and you’ll be dropped off right at the entrance. Woolly’s Tube Park will be open through mid-April.
3. Mammoth Rock ‘N’ Bowl
Take the free red bus line or the town’s trolley (in the evening) to Mammoth Rock ‘N’ Bowl for a laid-back evening of bowling and eats from pizza to salads to poutine and tacos. Sit at a booth or have your food delivered to your bowling lane. You’ll also find a full bar and arcade, as well as a more upscale Brasserie upstairs for a date night-style dining experience.
Where to Eat in Mammoth with Kids
From fine dining to grab-and-go eats, Mammoth’s dining options are much more diverse than you’d expect from such a small town. Most spots have high chairs and kids menu (or dishes pleasing to a kiddo palate) at the ready, lots have table-side crayons and all won’t bat an eyelash if you walk in at prime dinner hour with a gaggle of children. Expect a warm welcome from restaurants eager to serve families—although like any restaurant, if you want to minimize your wait time for food, avoid the 6:30-7:30 p.m. dining hours. Below are our favorite family-friendly places to eat in Mammoth:
Best Places for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner in MammothAndie Huber
1. Old New York Deli
One of our favorite spots in the Village is Old New York Deli—and, judging by the packed house we aren’t the only fans of this classic bagel spot. From sandwiches to traditional bagels and cream cheese to baked goods galore, Old New York Deli is a prime spot to fuel up before a day of adventuring.
6201 Minaret Rd. #105
Mammoth Lakes, CA
2. Gomez Restaurant
Nosh on burritos, sizzling fajita plates and delicious enchiladas at this welcoming Mexican restaurant in the Village. Portions are incredibly generous and for those 21+ Gomez offers up 600+ different types of tequila and is home to the “Mammoth Margarita.”
100 Canyon Blvd.
Mammoth Lakes, CA
3. Burgers Restaurant
The name of this restaurant sums up its specialty: burgers! Across the street from the Village, Burgers dishes out generous portions of their comfort food. Not into the traditional burger? You’ll also find a variety of equally filling eats like veggie burgers, buffalo burgers, pork baby back ribs and more.
6118 Minaret Rd.
Mammoth Lakes, CA
4. Mammoth Brewing Company
A short walk from the Village, this comfort food dining spot also crafts its own beers since 1995. Burgers and waffle fries rule the menu but you’ll also find flatbreads and tacos to please a variety of cravings.
18 Lake Mary Rd.
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Located conveniently next to the Canyon gondola, this wine shop inside a cafe (or is a cafe that features a wine shop?) offers hearty breakfast options (eggs, bacon, and potatoes FTW before a big day of skiing, along with doughnuts, crepes filled with Nutella for the kids. They also have an online order-ahead system so you can beat the lines.
100 Canyon Blvd. #229
Mammoth Lakes, CA
6. Mammoth Coffee Roasting Company
If you need your coffee (and a baked good or two), head to this newcomer coffee spot. Expect delicious coffee and amazing pastries and donuts at its new storefront in the heart of downtown Mammoth Lakes.
436 Old Mammoth Rd.
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Delicious food and a laid-back atmosphere makes Toomey’s an ideal spot to grab lunch or dinner. Located in the Village, you’ll find dishes like their coconut mascarpone pancakes, fish tacos and a kids menu that includes chicken fingers, mini burger and fries and more.
6085 Minaret Rd.
Mammoth Lakes, CA.
On-Mountain Dining in Mammoth
There are 19 dining options on the mountain in Mammoth. As with any mountain resort, times will get busiest during lunch so plan accordingly.
Good to Know: You can skip the lines and order ahead online from select locations on and off the mountain via the Mammoth App (this must-download app also offers real-time alerts, weather reports, lift tickets, tracking for you and your friends, and more.)
Where to Stay in Mammoth with Kids
Condos and hotels abound in Mammoth Lakes, and with the town’s free public bus system you really can’t go wrong with your accommodation choice. Still, traveling with kids means convenience—and proximity to shops, dining and activities—can mean the difference between a happy tear-free afternoon and an epic toddler meltdown. Here are family-friendly places to stay in Mammoth:
1. Westin Monache Resort Mammoth
Best for: Great views, hot tubs, swimming pool, and easy access to Canyon Lodge
Located in the Village, Westin Monache Resort Mammoth boasts mountain views from every room. Each room is equipped with a kitchenette, a small fridge, and a microwave. From the hotel, just walk down the steps to the gondola and get whisked up to Canyon Lodge. The Westin offers a ski valet so you don’t have to schlep your ski equipment back and forth every night. Like The Village Lodge Mammoth, the Westin offers a free shuttle bus service, which is built into the resort fee cost.
Good to Know: Not only are all the bus lines and evening trollies just steps outside of the Westin, if you’re staying at the Westin, they also offer a free shuttle service around town, including to Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center. Just give them a call when you’re ready to get picked up.
2. The Village Lodge Mammoth
Best for: Ultimate convenience to shops and dining
For accommodations that feel more like home book a condo at The Village Lodge Mammoth. Options range from studio condos to three-bedroom deluxe condos. Condos come equipped with kitchens or kitchenettes stocked with coffee, tea, pots, pans, dishware, a full-size fridge, stove and more, which is a huge perk if you want to whip up food for your child or store leftovers. A swimming pool is open daily (even in winter!) with cribs available upon request.
The Village Lodge also offers a free shuttle service anywhere within a 5-mile radius in Mammoth and you’re steps from dining, shopping, most of the major bus lines and the Canyon Village gondola. For those kiddos obsessed with things that go, ask for a room that looks out to the gondola—your child will love watching them come and go all day long.
3. Mammoth Mountain Inn
Best for: Ski-in-and-skin-out
If being slope-side is your jam, stay at Mammoth Mountain Inn. Located just a few steps from the lifts at the Main Lodge, this spot offers both hotel-style rooms and condos, with the latter featuring kitchenettes. Nearby you’ll find the Yoddler Restaurant and Bar, Sierra General Store and Mountainside Bar and Grill. Because the Inn is slope-side, this area does get a bit quieter once the lifts close and the après crowds have dispersed.
What to Do with Babies & Toddlers in Mammoth
If your kids are too young for ski school or you have babe you’re not ready to hand over to the slope-side childcare, here are the best things to do with young kids in Mammoth:
1. Ride the Canyon Gondola
Bonus: It’s free and if it’s not crowded, you can easily wheel your stroller on and off it for an easy ride. How long is the scenic gondola ride? It’s about 10-15 minutes each way so the adventure can take as little as 30 minutes if you want to just go up and back down again. But we recommend staying at the top and exploring around and take in the stunning views before heading back to the base.
2. Ride Mammoth’s Free Buses
Mammoth is only four miles across, which means you won’t be lost for hours on the different routes. Bonus: This is also free and we found makes for great white noise if you have a baby who loves naps in the front pack.
3. Walk around the Village
Peruse Mammoth gear and locally-sourced products (a favorite is Busy Beez General Store) , load up on coffee at Vida Coffee, chocolate at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, discover new toys at Trendy Tots, or grab a happy hour drink at one of the many kid- and dog-friendly patios (see above on great places to eat). The area is all paved and perfect for a leisurely stroller walk. Make sure to check out all the shops, dining options and events happening at the Village at Mammoth.
Good to Know: If you’re looking for a place to hang out slope-side, the area at Main Lodge behind Broadway Marketplace is emptier than most and is frequently used as a base camp for other families whose parents are trading off hitting the slopes.
4. Look Out for Woolly in the Village
You might catch him on the slopes or in one of the lodges handing out high-fives and hugs to his pint-sized fans. Also check Mammoth’s events calendar for more happenings.
How to Get to Mammoth
How to Get to Mammoth from Los Angeles
Want to leave LA and be on the slopes in Mammoth in under 2.5 hours flat? Then Advanced Air will get you there. Advanced Air offers regional service to and from Burbank (BUR), Hawthorne (HHR) and Carlsbad (CLD) airports now through April 17. With Advanced Air, you’ll enjoy the convenience of a private air travel experience at a commercial airline cost with benefits such as private terminals and skipping security lines. Plus you can bring your well-behaved dog with you.
There are also daily flights from LAX that operate year-round and will deliver you to Mammoth from LAX. Of course, flying is optional—and you can absolutely drive to Mammoth from Los Angeles. If you opt to drive, it’s around 5 hours from DTLA (without traffic of course). For the full list of available flights, check out visitmammoth.com.
How to Get to Mammoth from the Bay Area
Families who flock to Tahoe know the headaches associated with I-80 traffic, especially when chain control is in effect. Flying from SFO to Mammoth? The flight time is a cool 35 minutes. If you decide to drive to Mammoth, it’s about 5-6 hours from the Bay Area.
Unlike some ski towns you might have visited, there isn’t just one central lodge or downtown area. Mammoth is fairly spread out in the sense that there is the Village, Main Lodge, Old Mammoth and Main St. The free buses or your hotel’s shuttle will get you anywhere you need to go. And, the fact that it’s a bit more spread out means areas won’t be jam-packed and overwhelming for the littles.
The Best Time to Go to Mammoth with Kids
There is never a bad time to visit Mammoth but if you want to introduce your kids to skiing, then springtime, according to the experts, is by far the best time to go. The weather is warmer, the sun is shining and it’s not as windy as it can be during the winter months—no frozen fingers and toes to slow your brood down.
Our Editor’s Cheat Sheet for a First-Timers Weekend Trip to Mammoth & Having Smoothest Ski Vacation Ever:
- Fly into Mammoth (the flight is less than an hour).
- Stay at The Westin (amazing location close to the Village & Canyon Lodge for awesome beginner trails, après ski hot tubs, and nearby dining).
- Download the Mammoth App (best planning tool and up-to-the-minute information)
- Use Ski Butlers to rent your gear (delivered and picked-up from your room).
- For a non-ski day, go snowshoeing at Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center for an epic winter hike.
- Don’t forget the sunblock! Bluebird days (sunny, cloudless days) means you’re that much closer to the sun—and it will show.
To learn more about Mammoth and everything this skiing destination has to offer Visit Mammoth.
This trip was paid for by Mammoth Lakes Tourism and Mammoth Mountain but all opinions expressed belong to the writer.