Convict lake in winter surrounded by snow capped mountains

15 Best Things To Do In Mammoth Lakes In Winter

Planning a trip to Mammoth this season? In this post, I cover all the best things to do in Mammoth Lakes in winter – so you can find the perfect activities for your visit and have an enjoyable time!

As a California local, I visit Mammoth several times in the winter months. From skiing and snowboarding to incredible snowshoeing trails and soaking in steamy natural hot springs, Mammoth offers countless options for winter fun.

The spectacular peaks of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains also provide a breathtaking backdrop for The Village at Mammoth which attracts over a million visitors every year.

If you’re ready to embrace the winter season, here are all of the top things to do in Mammoth in winter!

Looking to rent a car for your trip to Mammoth? I recommend and personally use Discover Cars on my trips because they offer the best pricing and free cancellation up to 48 hours before your pickup.

15 Best Things To Do In Mammoth In Winter:

1. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area at Mammoth Lakes in December.

It’s no secret that most people come to Mammoth for skiing and snowboarding in the winter months. With an average snowfall of 400 inches per year, Mammoth has a pretty long skiing season that often lasts from November into the summer months.

Mammoth Mountain is the main ski resort in the area that offers over 3500 acres of skiable terrain with multiple access points for all skill levels. If you’re new to skiing or snowboarding, I highly recommend taking ski lessons that take place by Main Lodge off Minaret Road in the winter months.

Although I have been snowboarding since college, last year I wanted to try out skiing lessons and absolutely loved this experience! Within a few hours, I was able to pick up the basics and make it down the hill with confidence (and without falling).

For first time visitors, Canyon Lodge is another popular point from where to access various ski lifts. To reach Canyon Lodge you can take a gondola that departs from The Village Gondola Station. Here you will also find a lot of food options and shops in case you forget to bring anything on your trip.

Other Mammoth Mountain access points include:

  • Bottom Of Chair 4
  • The Mill
  • The Outpost
  • Eagle Lodge
  • Tamarack Lodge

My husband is a seasoned snowboarder and his favorite access point is The Mill. These entrance points are a great option if you’re an experienced skier or snowboarder and want to stay away from the big crowds.

Ready to book a hotel for your winter trip to Mammoth? You’ll find all the top-rated Mammoth accommodation options here on!

2. Hot Creek Geological Site

Viewpoint of Hot Creek Geological Site, one of the best places to go in the winter in California
Hot Creek Geological Site at Mammoth Lakes in winter.

Hot Creek Geological Site is one of my favorite Mammoth hikes in the winter season. This unique geological site is accessible year-round, but winter offers an especially beautiful scenery blanketed in snow with white mountain peaks in the distance.

The trail to reach Hot Creek Geological Site is around 2 miles long each way. Depending on the latest snow conditions, you may need microspikes, snowshoes, or cross-country skis to trek across deep snow. I visited this location in February and was able to do it with just microspikes.

Hot Creek Geological Site is located just 15 minutes south of Mammoth Lakes Town. In the winter you can park along Hot Creek Hatchery Road and follow it up to Hot Creek Geologic Site.

This is an active geothermal location where you can see a hot boiling river, steaming geysers, and bubbling blue hot springs, similar to Yellowstone National Park (but on a smaller scale). Visiting this location is one of the best free things to do in Mammoth Lakes in winter, which is a great option since most winter sports are very expensive.

3. Hilltop Hot Springs

Woman sitting at Hilltop Hot Springs in Mammoth Lakes
Hilltop Hot Springs at Mammoth Lakes in February.

There is nothing better after a weekend of snowboarding or skiing than soaking your sore muscles in an outdoor hot spring! Thankfully there are a few primitive hot springs to choose from situated just a short drive south of the Mammoth Lakes town.

Hilltop Hot Springs is one of the easiest hot springs to visit in the winter months. To reach Hilltop Hot Springs you can park along Benton Crossing Road and go on a quick 0.3-mile trail that will lead you to this hot pool.

With expansive mountain views, fresh air, and restoring mineral qualities, you’ll leave feeling so rejuvenated! But this hot spring can get very crowded and you might need to wait around for your turn.

A few other popular hot springs in this area include:

Visitor Tip: These hot springs are free but it’s up to visitors to keep them clean. Be sure to check around for any trash and clothing items that you might have forgotten before leaving.

4. Ride The Panorama Gondola

Views from the summit of Mammoth Mountain.

If you’re not into winter sports but want to enjoy those dreamy snow-capped mountain views, a Gondola Ride is the perfect activity for you!

For the most epic views take the Panorama Gondola at Mammoth Mountain. This gondola departs from the Main Lodge and goes to the top of Mammoth Mountain sitting at 11,053 feet in elevation.

The gondola will drop you off at the McCoy Station where you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountain peaks, walk around, and stop for food at Eleven53 Cafe. There is also an interpretive center with various exhibits which is a fun activity for kids.  

Before heading back down, be sure to stop by the Mammoth Mountain summit sign to snap a photo for memories!

Those that have an IKON pass or a lift pass, can ride the Gondola for free. If you don’t have a ski pass, a Gondola ride costs $30-$40, depending on the month and day of the week.

5. Stay In a Cozy Ski Lodge

The Village Lodge in Mammoth Lakes.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay on your trip to Mammoth Lakes, I highly recommend The Village Lodge! The Village Lodge is a luxurious hotel in downtown Mammoth that puts guests right in the heart of the action.

This beautiful resort features easy access to Mammoth Mountain’s Village Gondola, making it a convenient pick for winter sports enthusiasts. After a full day of fun outdoor activities, you can enjoy a swim in the heated outdoor pool and multiple hot tubs.

The lodge features a variety of room options sleeping up to 8 guests. This is great for family winter vacations or friends groups who want to split the cost.

The rooms feature a spacious dining area along with kitchenettes or fully equipped kitchens for making meals. There are also two restaurants on site so you don’t have to venture far for food options.

If you’re planning to fly in, you’ll be glad to know that the hotel offers a free airport shuttle!

Read More: 12 Best Places To Stay In Mammoth Lakes

6. Mammoth Brewing Company

Mammoth Brewing Company is one of our favorite places to grab drinks and food in Mammoth Lakes (photo by @mammothbrewing).

After a long day of fun outdoor activities, we love to stop by for a craft beer at Mammoth Brewing Company. Situated just a short walk from The Village At Mammoth and Canyon Lodge ski lift, this brewery is very easy to access after a day on the slopes!

Mammoth Brewing Company has both indoor and outdoor seating. If it’s nice and sunny outside, we like to grab one of the outdoor tables but in the winter you might want to opt for indoor seating.

From lighter pilsners to Hazy double IPAs and sours along with a variety of seasonal choices, there are plenty of of beers to try out. Can’t pick just one or two? Get the beer flight and taste a few!

Along with delicious beer, Mammoth Brewing Company also serves filling comfort food such as sandwiches, burgers, pizza, and tacos.

Distant Brewing is another popular brewery in Mammoth that’s a bit further from the ski lifts so it’s less crowded. Distant Brewing specializes in IPAs and Hazy IPAs with bold flavors and higher ABV.

7. Inyo Craters Hike

View of snow covered Inyo Crater in Mammoth Lakes, California
Inyo Craters Trail at Mammoth Lakes. These funnel-shaped craters were formed 550-650 years ago from violent volcanic steam eruptions.

Situated just slightly north of Mammoth Lakes town, Inyo Craters is a wonderful place to visit in the winter months. This location is one of the best things to do in Mammoth for nonskiers and those who want to get away from the crowds for a few hours.

Inyo Craters is a short and interesting wilderness trail that leads to two volcanic craters. Here you can walk along the rim of the craters and enjoy beautiful forest views from a designated observation platform.

In the summer you can drive along Dry Creek Road Spur and park your car closer to the Inyo Craters. In the winter, this road closes and you will need to hike an additional 1.4 each way to reach them.

Hiking Tip: The trail is not very difficult but can take a few hours to complete, especially if there’s a lot of snow and mud along the way. Be sure to check the latest trail updates on the AllTrails hiking app before heading out there.

8. Convict Lake

Beautiful scenery at Convict Lake in winter.

If you’re looking for things to do on the way to Mammoth, be sure to make a stop by Convict Lake off Highway 395! Here you can also go on a 2.5-mile-long Convict Lake Loop Trail that follows a narrow pathway around the entire lake.

Convict Lake Loop is one of the few trails within Inyo National Forest that stays open year-round. If you plan to hike the Convict Lake Loop, parts of the trail do have steep sections with icy snow so I highly recommend bringing microspikes and hiking poles to avoid accidentally slipping and falling.

If you’re not up for a hike, you can also make a quick stop by the marina to enjoy beautiful views of snow-covered mountains and the lake before continuing along on your drive to Mammoth.

Visitor Tip: Check the latest trail and road conditions on the AllTrails hiking app before heading out there.

9. June Mountain Ski Area

June Mountain in California (photo by @junemountain).

Situated just a 30-minute drive north of Mammoth, June Mountain Ski Area is a great alternative ski resort to visit besides Mammoth Mountain. This is a smaller resort with fewer people and less wait for ski lifts so we often come here when we feel like getting away from the crowds.

June Mountain boasts over 1500 acres of skiable terrain with runs that are wider, longer, and less steep than Mammoth. June Mountain also offers free skiing for kids under 12 so it’s a great choice for families with little kids.

Whether you’re a first-timer or an expert skier, the resort has a range of well-groomed trails for all skill levels. If you’ve never tried snowboarding or skiing before, be sure to check out their group lessons so you can hit the slopes with confidence!

When visiting June Mountain, we usually at the June Lake Motel. This is a comfortable and affordable hotel that’s located just a 5-minute drive from the ski resort.

10. Woolly’s Adventure Summit

Snow tubing is one of the best Mammoth activities in winter.

If you’re wondering what to do in mammoth lakes in winter aside from skiing and snowboarding, head over to Woolly’s Adventure Summit. This outdoor adventure park guarantees fun for the entire family!

Woolly’s Adventure Summit offers an array of activities catering to both the young and the young at heart. Kids can have a bit of outdoor fun in the snow play area where they can build snowmen.

The well-groomed tubing hills provide an exhilarating downhill adventure for everyone of all ages. When it’s time to take a break, head over to the snack bar where kids can enjoy a hot cocoa and the parents can sip on something a bit stronger.

Woolly’s tube park and snow play area opens in late November and stays open until early April.

11. Cross-Country Skiing

Wondering what to do in Mammoth aside from downhill skiing and snowboarding? Cross country skiing is a fun activity that allows you to explore different parts of Mammoth Lakes Basin.

While I love hiking in Mammoth in the summer months, in the winter, Mammoth shows off a whole new landscape with snow-covered trees and white mountain peaks all around. And there is no better way to enjoy the winter wonderland scenery than by strapping on cross-country skis and exploring the landscape on foot!

Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center offers over 19 miles of groomed cross-country skiing trails. The trails start at Tamarack Lodge & Resort and are open to Nordic skiers from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm with a valid pass.

The trails are well-marked and cater to a range of skill levels, from easy loops for beginners to more challenging routes. If you don’t have your own gear, you can rent it at the location and even sign up for lessons or guided tours.

12. The Village at Mammoth

After a day of fun outdoor adventures, unwind at The Village at Mammoth, where you’ll find a variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars offering delicious meals and après-ski delights. On the weekends you can often catch fun events such as wine tasting, festivals, DJs, and music shows.

Quaint paths wind through the village, leading to a variety of boutiques, galleries, and shops, making it a wonderful place to explore for non-skiers. This pedestrian-style village also offers some of the best hotels to stay at in Mammoth Lakes.

A few of the top accommodation choices within the village include The Village Lodge, The Westin Monache Resort, and Alpenhof Lodge.

13. Try Ice Skating

Ice Skating is a fun winter activity for everyone!

One of the best Mammoth Lakes activities in winter is grabbing a set of ice skates and heading to the local skating rink. LA Kings Ice at Mammoth Lakes is a brand-new ice-skating rink in Mammoth where you can enjoy a variety of ice activities including daily public skating sessions.

The public skating sessions cost $16 for adults, $14 for youth, and $5 for kids under the age of 5. If you don’t have a set of skates, no worries – you can rent them at the location as well!

14. Visit Mono Lake

Visiting Mono Lake is one of the most unique things to do in Mammoth Lakes in winter.

Nestled against the picturesque backdrop of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Mono Lake transforms into a beautiful scenery during the winter months. If you’re looking for a quiet place to escape for a few hours away from the busy Mammoth tourist crowds, head on a quick trip to Mono Lake!

Mono Lake is located off Highway 395 just a 30-minute drive north of Mammoth Lakes. Here you can walk around the quiet shores of the lake and observe unique formations in the lake called tufa.

One of the best locations for viewing these petrified formations is along the South Tufa Area. This is a wonderful place for nature photography so be sure to bring your camera along!

I personally use the Sony a7c camera for my travel photos. This is the smallest and lightest full-frame camera available on the market – perfect for traveling, hiking, and road trips.

15. Go On a Snowmobile Adventure

Snowmobiling is a great way to spend a few hours exploring Mammoth Lakes backcountry.

Going on a thrilling snowmobile adventure is one of the most fun things to do in Mammoth in winter.

A snowmobile adventure will allow you to discover parts of Mammoth that are otherwise not accessible, and take in the awe-inspiring views of the snow-covered landscapes. It is sure to be a highlight of your winter trip to Mammoth Lakes!

Mammoth Mountain Snowmobile Adventures offers guided snowmobile tours starting in December. Even first-time riders will have a blast on this tour!

I hope this guide has helped you prepare for a wonderful visit to Mammoth Lakes in winter. Looking for more California travel inspiration? Check out these popular posts next:

This post is written by Laura Sausina. Hi, I’m a California local and the founder of the California Wanderland travel blog. I currently live in Ventura County and help 30,000 readers a month discover things to do in Central California! Read more about me here.

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