Mammoth Mountain has 3,500 rideable acres, which means it’s big, and sometimes figuring out how to ride all of that terrain can take a while. That’s where we come in, this is your guide on how to ride Mammoth.
Timing is Everything
Arrive early, and leave late. Sounds simple… but it’s one of the best ways to score at Mammoth. The lifts open at 8:30AM, so depending on where you’re staying or what you want to ride you probably should have your gear on by 7:30AM. Make it your goal it to be strapped in and waiting in line at 8:25AM, not rolling up to the lift at 9AM. Those first 30 minutes of the day are glorious, do not miss them.
Start at Stump Nine days out of 10 the Stump Alley Express (CH 2) parking lot is where you want to start your day. Located a few miles up from town on Minaret Road, the Stump parking lot is a phenomenal place to create a basecamp and be ready to launch an attack on all sides of the mountain.
If it’s a powder day you can hop on Gold Rush (CH 10) and make your way over to CH 22, home of some of the steeper terrain on the hill. Or, you can lap the incredibly diverse terrain accessible from the top of Stump Alley Express (CH 2). Rodger’s Ridge, Drop 18, Patrolmen’s and the side hits on Mambo provide hours of enjoyment while the upper mountain gets the TLC (avalanche control) needed to open on a pow day.
If no avy work is required, CH 2 is home to some of the best groomers on the hill. Blast one back to the bottom then head up 2 and over to Face Lift Express (CH 3), roop around the back of 3 and down Gremlins to St. Anton. Early season Gremlins is a natural banked slalom, its location holds good snow and opens up into the wide expanses of St. Anton, which can be groomed up to 12 cats wide and begs to be trenched to pieces.
Usually the Panorama gondola is uncrowded until about 9:30AM, hop on it before then and take a lap off the top on one of the legendary bowls that lead back to McCoy Station. Climax, Dave’s and Cornice Bowl… all phenomenal, above tree line shredding accessed by a 6 minute gondola ride from mid-station. Dave’s is wide, fairly steep but requires a traverse both to and from; when the SW wind is blowing the wind buff can be some of the best on the hill. I know “wind buff” doesn’t sound sexy but it’s a real thing around these parts and can be as fun to slide on as powder. Well… almost.
Climax is full of rocks, cliffs and is more feature-filled than Dave’s or Cornice Bowl; if that’s your jam it should offer all the airtime you desire, and then some.
Cornice Bowl is usually groomed and pretty straight forward. It’s steep for a hundred feet then gradually eases as you merge with the lower mountain.
As the masses start to arrive, usually around 10AM or so, it might be time to check out Chairs 12 and 14. Off the beaten path these double chairs offer access to some of the coolest terrain on the mountain. White Bark Ridge, Rigley’s Bowl, the Hemlocks and the numerous groomers accessed from this region could be considered a mountain unto itself. Enjoy a few laps before working your way back to the CH 2 parking lot and smash an early lunch.
Most of our guests ski/ride from 9:30AM–12PM and then from 1-2:30PM. Our advice is to take an early lunch and get back out there from 11:45AM until 1:30PM while everyone is standing in line at the cafeteria. If you started at CH 2 make your way towards the eastside of the mountain and lap Chairs 22 and Cloud 9 Express (CH 9). Long, steep and well worth the effort, this side of the mountain can be empty in the early afternoon.
Note that you can traverse from the top of Cloud 9 Express (CH 9) all the way to Main Lodge, eliminating the congestion at Canyon Lodge and the bottom of CH 2 zones. As the day comes to an end, we’re big fans of hot laps through our beginner/intermediate level terrain park Forest Trail. Small to medium sized features and an 11-foot halfpipe are just what the doctor ordered after a long day of smashing around the mountain.
Start on the Canyon Lodge side of the hill in South Park, Wonderland and on the Snake Run. Early sun and a long length make all of these the perfect parks to warm up in and get your board underneath you. Wonderland is entry level (but SO FUN), the Snake Run is an intermediate rhythm run and South Park is advanced – something for everyone. If you get hooked on the perfection and flow of the South Park Zone we understand, many a rider has taken a few laps in that area and spent their entire day there, it’s that good.
As the sun gets higher in the sky make your way towards Main Lodge and the beginner/intermediate nirvana found in Forest Trail. Accessed from Unbound Express (CH 6) a lap or two through Forest is always a good call as you progress towards the big dog, Main Park. Main Park is a pro-level terrain park with advanced to mega-sized features. While deserving of respect its perfection is hard to ignore.
For those looking for to add a big mountain vibe to their terrain park adventures, might we suggest The Hemlocks. Located off of Chair 14 this extreme hike-to zone is filled with both man-made and natural terrain features. Cliffs, hips, rocks, pillows, spines and everything in between await, depending on snow levels.
If chucking off a 50-foot step down isn’t your thing we have the perfect alternative – settle in at The Outpost and take in the action from a comfortable seat with a grilled cheese and cold beer in your hand. On top of providing delicious sustenance, The Outpost offers front row seating to view all of the action going down up on The Hemlocks.
After all that, if your legs still have some pop in them, head back over to the Canyon Lodge side of the mountain and spin a few laps through Jibs Galore and the Transition Park. The steel in Jibs and the creativity in Transition Park provide the perfect cherry to top off a bad-ass day of terrain parking.