Mammoth Mountain, located on the side of an ancient volcano caldera in the Eastern Sierras of California, has long been legendary amongst snowboarders. The resort is well known for its great snow records, fast modern lift systems and its habit of producing the greatest terrain parks in the world. Investment into a new village has brought centralised modern hotels, bars, shops and the village gondola that whisks you up to Canyon Lodge ski area. With the recent update to the Mammoth airport and the introduction of cheap flight packages, a resort that was five hours’ drive north from LA has become that bit more accessible to international tourism.
- Highest Point: 3,370m
- Descent: 1,155m
- No. lifts: 28
After a rocky year – the local council filed for bankruptcy in July 2012 – Mammoth seems to have weathered the storm, and its sister resort of June Mountain will be re-opening after a season off. It’s a safe bet that the Mammoth freestyle set-up will continue to lead the world, and with its numerous open bowls, cliffs and couloirs, a visit to this original Californian shred mecca remains a must for the bucket list.
The Parks – 5/5
The nine parks boast around 200 combined features, which should ensure that there is plenty for all abilities. The Canyon Lodge Family Park provides a safe area for beginners away from the busy Unbound Park. South Park provides a long trail with boxes, kickers, wall rides, jibs and pole jams for intermediate to advanced riders. Accessed by the high-speed chair 4, this tree-lined area is usually less icy than the main park due to its sheltered aspect. Alongside South Park is the tree-lined Jib Park trail, a haven for rail riders and park addicts when the visibility is bad.
“In short, it’s a freestyle feast“
The Unbound Park above Main Lodge has the largest kickers, accessed by a chairlift that runs above it, providing great views of the action below. In the top half of the park, street rails drop into kickers with tables up to 30 meters long, as well as wall rides and step-ups. Rider’s left is a superpipe, in the centre, a line to the bottom kickers and to the right the super-duper pipe with 22ft walls. To the side of the main park is another mini park with a line of three or four kickers and a hip, more rails and some boxes. In short, it’s a freestyle feast.