Flashback Friday tribute…My First Trip to Mammoth

In honor of Flashback Friday (aka #fbf…love acronyms), I’m transferring this post over from my blogger site.  I posted this in February 2012.  It was my only post and then I totally flaked out.  I’m back in the saddle now with reaffirmed commitment!

Having traveled to Mammoth a few times now, here is what I will add to the post below.

Getting There:  So I think we have found a way to beat altitude sensitivity.  Last year we drove to Lone Pine, CA (just along 395), spent the night at a bargain motel and then continued to Mammoth (two hours) from there the next morning.  We chilled the rest of the day in Mammoth (went shopping, checked in, etc.), and it seemed to give us a good chance to acclimate.  No puking!  (always a good thing)

Accommodations:  We love the Westin Monache (www.westinmammoth.com) for all the reasons below.  However, it is pricey and picky about honoring Starwood points.  We used vrbo.com for our last trip and had a great condo.  We actually stayed and skied out of Eagle…walked to the slopes from our condo.  We really appreciated not having to fight the crowds at Canyon.  However, if you have beginner skiers, make sure you can navigate back and forth from the Eagle slopes.  We did take a rough detour on a Black Diamond that the kids still like to talk about!

Restaurants and Entertainment:  Grumpys is still fun.  (www.grumpysmammoth.com)  If you like fine dining, Nevados is delish!  (www.nevadosrestaurant.com)  Last year we went to Mammoth Rock N Bowl (www.mammothrocknbowl.com) and the kids had a blast!  Of course, Shat’s Bakery has bread and pastries that everyone will love.  We stopped for sandwiches and soup on the way into town.  There is one in Bishop and one right in Mammoth (3305 Hwy 203 / Main St).

Enjoy the throwback!

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MAKING THE TRIP

It’s about a 6 hour drive but it’s totally possible to make it there/back in less than 6 hours if you plan the trip accordingly.  Once you get past Adelanto (coming from Orange County, CA), you have to plan your stops because there is a long distance between towns.  I recommend not stopping in Bishop because it can get crowded/touristy and really delay you.

JUST BE CAREFUL

For some reason, Mammoth is unique from other resorts because the town is at 8,000 feet.  In fact, there is a resort at Main Lodge that is at ~9,000 feet.  So, there seem to be A LOT of stories of altitude sickness.  I have friends that go to Salt Lake/Park City frequently who never have a problem with altitude sickness, but SLC is only 4,000 feet and Park City is 7,000 feet.  In Mammoth, their daughter woke up in the middle of night throwing up (she is the one who has the motion sickness issues as well).   I usually feel uneasy the first few hours I am there and Sophia woke up the first morning feeling “car sick.”  I personally never had any issues in Lake Tahoe, but Truckee is only at 6,000 feet.

THE MOUNTAIN

There are 3 lodges at Mammoth:  Eagle, Canyon, and Main.  I have heard that Mammoth plans to expand Eagle Lodge, because now it is very small.  Most of the facilities are based out of Canyon or Main.

There are parking lots at all 3 lodges, but we prefer taking the Gondola from the Village because it drops us directly at Canyon, literally in the middle of the Ski School Area.  So, by renting at Mountain Center (see below), we can have our tickets and ski school passes in hand when we get off the Gondola and we can take the girls directly to drop off…which is huge when you need to be ready to go on the mountain at 9am.

There is a ski rental location called Mountain Center right next to the Gondola.  All ski packages with rentals allow rental pick up at Mountain Center (rentals can be made through the main 800# for Mammoth).  We walked into the Mountain Center with our Ugg Boots on, got our rentals on, left our walking shoes there for the day and hopped right on the Gondola.  A beautiful thing…no walking around in ski boots!  At the end of the day, we stored our rentals there at no cost and grabbed our shoes and walked out.  At the end of the day, walking around in shoes rather than ski boots was priceless!

Regarding lunch, you can eat at all 3 lodges, but on busy days, the eating areas are packed.  We make sandwiches and bring bottles of water.  Tom wears a backpack when he skis so we don’t need a locker for our food (it’s $5 every time you lock it).  The kids eat lunch in ski school.

We usually ski in the morning together and meet our kids at lunch and talk to the ski instructor to find out where they are skiing in the afternoon.  Then we go and watch them and sometimes pull them early from ski school to ski with us (at about 2pm or so).  Ski School ends at 3pm, but skiing with your kids from 3pm – 4pm is a bit hairy when the slopes are busy.

ACCOMODATIONS AND RESTAURANTS

We love staying at the Westin.  It’s a condo hotel that actually takes pets!  The kitchenette has everything you need.  We pack food in the car so that we have fixings for breakfast, lunch and snacks (although, there are grocery stores in Mammoth Lakes, of course).  The restaurant at the Westin is also delicious and the hotel has a kids club from 4:30 – 8:30.  It also has a pool and a Jacuzzi.   It’s right in the Village.  What we like about it is that it is right across the street from the Gondola to Canyon.  So, I suppose staying anywhere around the Village would give you the same benefit of being close to the Gondola.

We like the Village because it’s a cute pedestrian area, but really, the best restaurants and entertainment are on Old Mammoth Road, which is a drive from the Village.  For example, Grumpy’s is very casual and a lot of fun for kids with arcade-style/video games.

When you choose a place to stay, it’s also good to look at the van/shuttle route.  It definitely drops off at the Gondola, so you could stay anywhere on the route and rent at Mountain Center and take the Gondola.

We have friends that stay at Juniper Springs at Eagle which is apparently a very short walk/shuttle to the slopes.  However, for Ski School, they have to either drive over to Canyon or Main or they have to ski over.  That would work for us now, but it wouldn’t have worked for our first trip.

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