Newbie here, need some answers!!

Weather & Road Conditions discussion forum to from and around, Mammoth Lakes, June, Bishop and the surrounding areas.

Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby william34 » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:37 pm

Hey guys my girlfriend and I are planning a trip to LA/Las vegas next month (Feb 9-19). We were supossed to stay in las vegas and LA and then suddenly she came up with the idea of doing some ski and skip some of the activities we had planned, so in the last few days I've been researching like mad because there is so much to chose from.

Being a first timer not only ski but first time touching snow I had really no idea at all about this, I've been in the forum for a couple hours reading but still got some question I'd like you to help me out.

1. We want to leave LV in feb.12 and head to mammoth by car, departing at midnight to arrive on time and settle up. is the weather or road conditions challenging at this time of the year? What cautions should we take? I can see in the forum there are many cops in the area and you take speed limit very seriously, unlike my country. We plan to stay 3 days 2 nights.

2. Snow conditions, we have never touched snow but are excited to learn ski and snowboarding, according to your experience how is the snow condition at this month? Is the snow real or artificial?

3. Personal opinion here... I've been reading about all these places but im just not sure where to go. Every place has its con and pros. diamond peak, squaw, sugar bowl, big bear, etc. Would you consider mammoth worth the 6 hour drive if you were departing from las vegas?

I want a nice view for pictures, not so crowded place so we can free practice and most importantly a beginner-friendly ski place. And also which hotel do you recommend for our stay?

Sorry for so many questions, this is our first time and dont want to get there unprepared. :D

Thanks
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby SurfnSnowboard » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:55 pm

1) There are several ways you can get from Las Vegas to Mammoth and some are more treacherous than others at night and/or during a storm. February can have massive snowstorms so you'll need to watch the weather and check road conditions carefully and make sure you're prepared for winter driving in the mountains.

Website for checking California road conditions:
http://dot.ca.gov/

Winter driving tips:
http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/wntrdriv.htm

2) Mammoth has received about 6 meters of snow already this season. February weather can be clear and sunny or cold and stormy. Snow conditions are generally great in February!

3) Mammoth is a great choice but Lake Tahoe is great too. Both have plenty of real snow. If you're driving back to LA afterwards then Mammoth is a little closer. If you're going to San Francisco then Lake Tahoe is closer. Both have plenty to offer and all the resorts have their positives and negatives. Big Bear doesn't compare to Mammoth or Lake Tahoe but if they have natural snow then it's not a bad place to learn if you go mid-week. Obviously it's much closer to LA than Mammoth.

Mammoth is a great place to learn to ski or snowboard. I recommend taking lessons. Ski mid-week and you won't have to worry about crowds you'll have wide open runs to learn on and great snow.

There are plenty of hotels to choose from and it really just depends on how much you want to spend. If you stay at a hotel owned by the mountain you can get a package deal with lift tickets included so you might want to check into that option. One disadvantage to Mammoth is that it's more expensive than Lake Tahoe and Big Bear.

Welcome to the forum and I hope you have a great trip!
It has to snow again eventually...right???
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby CalvaryMike » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:40 am

The weekend of February 16-18 is President's weekend. It's one of the busiest weekends. I would try to avoid that weekend. I would also recommend lessons. Juniper Springs is a great place to stay. It's right next to Eagle Lodge and it's a great place to take lessons for beginners.
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby Sierra Lady » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:19 am

^ What he said. If you have never been to snow and are inexperienced in driving in it I would suggest you drive here from LV during the daytime. http://www.visitmammoth.com/about-mammoth/directions/

Here is a complete list of lodging in the Mammoth Lakes area:

http://www.visitmammoth.com/hotels/
Carry chains! :idea:

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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby LVTOSKI » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:10 pm

There is also a ski area 47 miles from down town Las Vegas: http://www.skilasvegas.com/winter/index.html

Los Angeles has 4 local ski resorts all within a 2.5 hour drive (depending on winter traffic).

None of these compare to Mammoth. My first choice would be Mammoth but if time or weather are a issue there are alternatives.
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby windyscotty » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:24 pm

First of all, where are you coming from?

Next, don't waste your time at other ski areas. Come directly to the Eastern Sierra, because there's no place like Mammoth-Man!

It is 4.5 hours from Vegas to Bishop. Another 40 minutes up the hill to Mammoth. Highway 168 over Westgaard Pass is the most direct route but is only plowed during the day over the pass. You will get a good view of what our deserts are like and our big mountains, too.

See you soon partner!
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby LarBear2 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 3:50 pm

You may not love Mammoth over President’s weekend. It will be mobbed and you may not be able to get a place to stay.
Its a 20 minute drive but you might consider June Lake which has a few motels. Otherwise Bishop is 45 minutes away and is loaded with places to stay but the drive can be a problem if it is snowing. You are coming during the "rain" season which means you could encounter snow over the passes at any time. You MUST carry chains. Otherwise the Highway Patrol will not let you past the check points they set up in snowstorms or if you get by them they or the town police will be glad to give you a very expensive ticket. The chain installers on 395 will be happy to sell you a set of chains and install them for much more than the price you would pay in Bishop plus $40 for installation. I urge you to Google Mammoth, June Lake and Bishop accommodations and call to make a reservation to avoid disappointment. I have been to Mt. Charleston. It's an easy ride from Las Vegas but not as much of a ski area as Mammoth, which is great. I also suggest you reserve your lessons before you come because on crowded weekends they actually fill up lessons. Have fun and drive slowly and leave a lot of distance through the towns and on the snow.
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby LarBear2 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 3:57 pm

By the way. If you want to see some beautiful places near Vegas take a short round trip drive to and from Vegas to Red Rock Canyon. It is beautiful. You can also go further to the Valley of Fire, which is East of Vegas to see more brillant red rcok formations and indian petrograpghs. If you go there take water and food because there are no places to buy food in the Valley of Fire park.
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Postby ShiftyRider » Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:04 pm

The OP sounds like a successful businessman, so let's be clear -- the motels at June Lake are way too rustic*. Staying in Bishop is also pretty nuts -- I love how people recommend things they would never do.

* nice way of saying they're dumps

P.S. I've had a season pass for 24 years and never seen a chain checkpoint LOL.
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby william34 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:04 pm

Thanks all for your helpful replies, you have been really kind

We are from Panama and its our second time in the US. As the president weekend is busy we will be going mammoth in mid week, specifically 12-15 of february. (Tue-Fri). I skipped right away las vegas ski area in mt. charleston because of the horrid reviews, rough customer service and fake snow, that is definitely NOT the experience we are looking for. Also Valley of fire, grand canyon and hoover dam are on the list as well and we will go before departing to mammoth.

By the way we are 25 year old so doesnt matter if the stay is a bit rustic as long as it is clean and with good accomodations. We want to stay close to the snow and enjoy the cold weather, so fancy hotels are not a must. Would like some place where restaurants are nearby.

I got worried about the chains requirement but elsewhere I read they they weren't needed in rental cars. Could someone clarify this? Our car is not a 4wd. But I could get the chains before we depart.

Are there some thermal pool in this area? I have seen pretty nice "secret spots" in youtube I wonder if there are such place around mammoth or bishop.

I will keep on reading and investigating more, and any suggestion is welcome. Our main concern now is the driving conditions and where to stay for the 3 days.
Last edited by william34 on Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:38 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby ShiftyRider » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:41 pm

If you can get in the Emerald Club (National rental cars), sometimes they have 4WD or AWD for the taking from the Emerald Aisle (for the price of a midsize).
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby william34 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:37 pm

Do I absolutely have to rent a 4x4 to get to mammoth? a compact rwd with chains won't do?

The thing is, we will arrive LA in feb 9 and from then on 1 week of rental in a convertible, not for the looks but for enjoying the view and to take better pictures while we are in LV. If we drop the car in LV to rent a 4wd the price would jump despite it is only a 3 day rent.

Paying for 3 different rental cars would be way to pricy, and it would be boring if I rented a 4wd the whole time since doing spirited drivings around muholland hwy and places near LV was one of the main activities we had planned.

I have no snow driving experience but im definitely up for the challenge...
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby Sierra Lady » Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:06 pm

The mid-week time you are coming is all part of President's WEEK (so. CA. schools are out) and that's why it will be very crowded and hard to find accommodations if not booked very soon. Please see the lodging link I provided in my post far above.

You really do NOT want to come to Mammoth with a convertible compact vehicle in winter. If it snows a lot while you are here there is the possibility of the roof collapsing...I've seen it happen. Most rental companies do not provide or allow chains on rentals, but you MAY need them so that is why renting a 4WD is recommended. Btw, chain installers in chain-up locations do NOT sell chains and just install them for a fee.

Yes there are natural hot tubs in the area, but once again they are not in locations where you would want to travel to in a compact car. There is snow and alkali mud in those areas and it's easy for even a 4WD vehicle to get bogged down and stuck. There are no phones out there and a tow out of that muck will cost you around $200.

Good luck!
Carry chains! :idea:

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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby baiuse » Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:24 pm

Never had a week off for president's day, just the friday and monday.
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Postby ShiftyRider » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:07 pm

Do I absolutely have to rent a 4x4 to get to mammoth?

No, usually you'll be fine in any vehicle whatsoever.

Example: 26 December non-4WD/AWD vehicles needed chains for the last 100 miles of the trip to Mammoth (very rare). I went the next day (for a week) and didn't need chains at any time.

Caveat: during that same week, others might have needed chains not for the town roads but cuz their lodging's driveway isn't so good.

If the weather for Mammoth looks fine, then you won't need chains. Don't buy chains if you drive a rental car. Period.

P.S. Most rental companies let you switch cars mid-rental. The switch would occur at the pickup/dropoff location, of course.
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