Y’all, California’s Mammoth Mountain Ski Area may be my favorite mountain I’ve snowboarded. Yes, I know it may sound like I say that about every mountain. And I realize that I’ve only been riding for a couple years. But my sentiment toward Mammoth is different then other mountains. Perhaps that’s because every time I’ve gone, I’ve been treated to fresh powder. Or that Mammoth has the tallest summit of any ski resort in California. Or maybe it’s because it’s where I rode my first black diamond, which I did on this most recent trip. But even still, with an average annual snowfall of 400 feet, 3,500 acres of skiable terrain, 150 named runs, and 28 lifts, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area stands up to the best West Coast ski resorts.

To kick of 2016, a few of my friends packed our cars and hit Highway 395 for Mammoth Lakes, which theoretically, you can be to in about 5 hours. For reference, South Lake Tahoe is an additional 130 miles. And what we found was a lot of snow, more actually then I’d seen at Mammoth. So much so that the weekend that we arrived, Mammoth Mountain had surpassed its snowfall total of all of last year, and in January at that.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area Summit

This was an important California snowboarding trip for a number of reasons. First of all, this winter is the first winter I’ve really felt comfortable snowboarding, which this trip to Mammoth continued to confirm. The fresh powder didn’t hurt. And nor did riding my first black diamond. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from snowboarding (and most things), the quickest way to accelerate your skills is by riding with people who are better than you and constantly trying more difficult terrain.

But what I loved about this Mammoth trip in particular, was discovering the Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center, which is located away from Mammoth’s ski lodges, and features 20 miles of groomed trails that wind through the Mammoth Lakes Basin. It passes through tall pines, past lakes, and by waterfalls. If you’re skiing on the groomed trails, it does require a lift pass, but there’s one side of the trail (ungroomed) that is for hikers and snowshoers, too. Needless to say, this was our favorite find of the trip.

But enough about me, let’s get to those photos from California’s Mammoth Mountain Ski Area.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area Main Lodge

 
 

Ski Lift atop Mammoth Mountain

 
 

Atop Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in California

 

Atop Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in California

 

Summit of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

 

Snowboarding down Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

 

Skiing at California's Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

 

Sunset over Mammoth Mountain

My friend Josh looking toward Mammoth Mountain at sunset (not staged).

Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center

California's Mammoth Lakes Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center

A mini snowman comfortably resting (at least for now) on Mary Lake.

 

Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center in Mammoth Lakes

Overlooking Twin Lakes.

 

Cross Country skiing at California's Mammoth Lakes Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center

Cross-country skier skiing the groomed trails at Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center.

 

Mammoth Lakes Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center

My friend Jade of Vagabond3, with her soon-to-be skier (I’m hoping snowboarder)

 

California's Mammoth Lakes Basin

Mini Dolomites?

 

Mammoth Lakes Basin near Mammoth Mountain

Parting shot of Mary Lake and the Mammoth Lakes Basin.