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Weekend in Mammoth Lakes

Weekend in Mammoth Lakes

If you’re looking for a weekend of outdoor exploration with plenty of natural wonders, you’ve come to the right place. Mammoth Lakes has been welcoming visitors for years because of its gorgeous landscapes, great food, and abundant activities. Mammoth Lakes Tourism recently invited me out to visit and experience how much there is to see and do at any time of year in Mammoth Lakes. Here’s what to know!

A Mammoth Lakes Weekend Getaway

How to Get Here

Driving can be more than a little risky—while the Mammoth Lakes area keeps roads as clear as they can, smaller roads leading up to Mammoth can get washed out from floods and snow throughout the later fall months through the later spring months. Your best bet would be to fly into the area via the airports in Bishop or on an Advanced Airlines flight that comes straight to the Mammoth Yosemite Airport. It’s about an hour out of Hawthorne Municipal Airport in Los Angeles, and the chartered flights are designed to comfortably and quickly get you up on the mountain. I drove up in early May with mostly clear roads and only one small detour due to a potentially flooded-out road.

Mammoth Lakes (Courtesy Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board)
Mammoth Lakes (Courtesy Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board)

Getting Around

During the busier seasons, you’ll find transportation options of all kinds that are built to get you where you need to go. Many hotels offer shuttle service, and Mammoth Lakes offers several buses that operate throughout town to get you around the village, each of the lodges, and more. Familiarize yourself with the transportation map in advance and avoid bringing a car—parking can be very limited during the winter months when snow is piled high just about everywhere. Even in the off-season, certain buses still run fairly frequently; just make sure to check the schedules ahead of time. At these times, the roads are generally much more clear, so driving is easier than before and getting to and from the area is also safer.

Mammoth Lakes Trolley (Courtesy Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board)
Mammoth Lakes Trolley (Courtesy Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board)

What to Do

How about what not to do? There’s so much to see and do in Mammoth Lakes; it’s difficult to cram it all into just a few days. If you’re into hiking, wait until the very late spring when more of the small roads are open, and there’s easier access to trails that provide gorgeous views. If you’re hoping for snowier views, you’ll still find plenty of those in May, even if you can’t get as up close as you’d like.

Mammoth Lakes (Courtesy Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board)
Mammoth Lakes (Courtesy Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board)

If you’re hoping to hit the slopes, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Mammoth Mountain has three lodges, one of which is accessible by gondola from the Village at Mammoth. Earlier and later in the season, various lodges might limit their activities based on accessibility and which lifts are open and operational. During my visit in early May, the Main Lodge was still quite active, and the lift lines were nice and short. The mountain was also still literally quite covered in snow, making for a fantastic late-season ski trip. If skiing isn’t your thing, Woolly’s Tube Park & Snow Play offers family fun tubing through the snow, and Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center offers opportunities to cross-country ski and snowshoe through the terrain. 

In the summer, getting out on the water is easy, and there are countless places to do it. No matter what your choice of summer activity is, there’s something here for you. Fishing opportunities vary by lake, and you will want to check the Mammoth Lakes website for fishing regulations ahead of time. There are numerous places to swim safely, and if you want to take out your kayak, canoe, or boat, there are lots of great options to help you spend the day out on the water.

Mammoth Lakes (Courtesy Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board)
Mammoth Lakes (Courtesy Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board)

Where to Eat

You might not think of Mammoth Lakes as being a haven for foodies, but you’d be pleasantly surprised. I tried a variety of restaurants that Mammoth Lakes Tourism sent us to for hosted meals, and everyone had a fun menu and options I thoroughly enjoyed but might not have thought to try otherwise. The culinary scene also just got a major upgrade with the opening of Vulcania by the famed Voltaggio Brothers, right in The Village at Mammoth. If you’re up on the mountain, you’ll find eateries of all kinds at each of the lodges too. If you’re going to be out and about, packing a picnic lunch is easy with all of the great grab-and-go options all over the area. Just make sure to be careful and responsible when bringing food out into nature—you don’t want to attract wildlife! We’ve got a list of five great foodie finds in Mammoth Lakes, too—read all about them here.

The Village at Mammoth (©Melanie Lee)
The Village at Mammoth (©Melanie Lee)

Where to Stay

There’s absolutely no shortage of lodging options in and around Mammoth Lakes. I was invited to stay at The Westin Monache Resort (which is pet-friendly) for a lovely couple of days, wandering the village, shuttling over to the mountain, and just enjoying the fresh air and beautiful scenery. My pup also enjoyed the pet-friendly resort and space. We’ve got a list of five great reasons to stay at Westin Hotels & Resorts (read about them here) and a look at Westin’s Gear Lending Program (perfect for a post-hike/skiing wellness hour). 

The Westin Monache Resort Mammoth (©Melanie Lee)
The Westin Monache Resort Mammoth (©Melanie Lee)
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