Michael Vanderhurst has spent 14 years, or ‘winters’ as the locals describe, in Mammoth Lakes. Located in California’s pristine Sierra Nevada mountains, Mammoth Lakes provides year-round activities in all weathers. Snow heavy winters bring powdery ski slopes and blue skies and summers bring mountain biking and fishing. Michael describes his favourite experiences and why Mammoth Lakes should make it onto your California wish list.
What is it that you love most about living in Mammoth Lakes?
My favourite thing about Mammoth Lakes is the strong sense of community that exists here, and the insane easy access to world class outdoor adventure.
Do you prefer the winter or the summer season? Could you give us a little insight into the magic of each season?
Winters and winter sports are what we are famous for, but summer and fall are the locals favourite; there’s no shovelling or digging out cars to get to the best mountain biking in the USA or wearing 4 layers of clothes to spend the day hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains! It’s funny though, when that first snow flies in the fall, we all get very excited for winter, despite the shovelling!
Can you tell us a bit about the nature and landscape surrounding Mammoth Lakes?
Think high alpine. The town sits at 2,300 meters, and the ski mountain only goes up from there to 3,400 meters. 2 years ago, we had 18 meters of snow, the most of any ski resort on the planet! When you blend that with 300 days of sunshine, you get plenty of absolutely epic ‘bluebird powder’ days. The summer is all about getting out and enjoying the magic of the mountains. We are surrounded by 2.2 million acres of federally protected lands, so you can go days without seeing another soul, or fish any of the 110 lakes within 10 km of the town, and never see another fisherman.
We hear that biking is big in Mammoth Lakes. Is it accessible for all abilities? Can you easily rent bikes and equipment whilst you’re there?
Biking is totally accessible for all levels…from absolute beginners to crazy souls jumping off cliffs! Think along the lines of a ski resort, and how the runs are colour-graded for ability levels…that’s the way the mountain bike terrain park works too. Also, you can put your bike in the gondola or the back of a chairlift and walk the ‘uphill work out’. The town also has 30 kms of dedicated, paved bike trails winding through the resort that are easy and free which is perfect for families. Rentals of all levels of bikes are available, as well as helmets and any gear a person might need.
How long do you recommend guests stay in Mammoth Lakes to really experience it properly?
In Winter you would want a solid week or up to 10 days. In summer I would recommend 4-6 nights, including a side day trip to explore Yosemite National Park. This is only 45 minutes away by car or public transportation.
What are your top must-see’s and must-do’s whilst in Mammoth Lakes?
The scenic gondola ride to the top of Mammoth Lakes, the Devil’s Postpile National Monument, Rainbow Falls, riding bikes in the Mammoth Lakes basin, Mono Lake State Park, Bodie State Park (the official ghost town of California) and of course a visit to Yosemite National Park….one of the crown jewels of the US National Parks!
In terms of wining and dining, are there any restaurants, breweries or markets that you would recommend guests going to?
Mammoth Brewing Co is a must stop, as well as the Shelter Distillery. I would also recommend a dinner at Gomez’s in the Village for great Mexican food, bowling some pins at Mammoth Rockin’ Bowl is always a killer time for families and friends, and Petras for an elegant evening with someone special. The must stop though is the Clocktower, Mammoth’s most legitimate après-ski bar where day drinking is never frowned upon!
If you could describe Mammoth Lakes in three words, what would they be?
No Small Adventure!
Rest Your Head
For mountain, lake and trail access, fabulous dining and their outdoor hot tub, we love The Westin Monache Resort. From £170 per night
Enjoy the mountain trails at your own pace and rent a bike for the day, fromm$44 per person. www.mammothmountain.com