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13 Dec 2022
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Mammoth Vacation Planning

If you’re planning your first winter trip to Mammoth Lakes, you might be wondering what you need to pack. The team here at Mammoth Mountain Reservations is here to help. We’ve put together a list of must-haves for a vacation to remember!

#1: Sunglasses, sunscreen and SPF chapstick

We’re always happy to get a surge in interest after a big snow storm. After all, the pictures of gray skies and big fluffy snowflakes are pretty enticing! But one thing that many first-timers may not realize is that we have more sunny days than stormy ones. In fact, Mammoth Lakes enjoys an annual average of 3,534 hours of sunlight. That’s more than Miami, Florida and Austin, Texas!

So, even if there’s snow in the weather forecast, you’re definitely going to want to pack a pair of sunglasses, sunscreen, and SPF chapstick. Because when the sun shines and reflects off all that fresh snow, you’ll be glad you did!  

#2: A power-charging pack

You’re in for some action-packed days in Mammoth, which means you’ll need a fully charged phone battery. When you’re up on the mountain, you’ll want to be able to stay connected with others in your group. You may also find it helpful to download the Mammoth Mountain app to help you navigate the slopes with their interactive trail map. And at the end of a full day of cross-country skiing, ice skating or snowboarding, you can find out how to get back home with the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority app.

As you can see, having your phone handy can be a huge benefit when you’re out and about during your vacation. Plus, if your car gets stuck in the snow, a fully charged battery pack will mean that you’re never left stranded.

#3: Base layers

As we mentioned before, Mammoth has more sunny days than you might expect. And, no matter what skill level you are on skis or a snowboard, you’re probably going to work up a sweat while you’re enjoying the slopes. For this reason, you’ll want to dress in layers when heading up to the mountain. That way, you can take off a layer or two if you start to feel hot.

We’re big fans of light-weight, moisture wicking fabrics like a merino-polyester blend. Base layers made from this kind of material will keep you warm while still being light enough to put in your backpack when you don’t need them. You can, of course, always rent a locker at the lodge to leave your bulkier layers if you need to.

#4: Long socks

Any local will tell you that ankle socks are a sure way to be miserable in the snow. There’s two reasons for this.

On the one hand (or foot, we should say), long socks will prevent you from chaffing in your snow boots. Whether you’re renting boots or using the ones you only wear a few times a year, protecting your ankles from rubbing is key.

On the other hand, no matter how hard you try, some snow will inevitably find its way into your boots or shoes. With long socks, the snow will take longer to melt than it would against your skin, keeping you dry and warm. 

Just like with your base layers, merino blends are a great option for winter sports. And, you’ll want to make sure that they’re high enough for full coverage. Most ski socks, for instance, are at least calf-high. 

#5: Hand-warmers

It’s no surprise that your hands are one of the most vulnerable parts of your body when you’re engaging in winter activities. You might be pulling your gloves on and off to take pictures and adjust your gear. And, your hands are, of course, always there to break your fall, getting quite chilly in the process.

Pocket hand warmers are a fantastic way to keep your fingers from getting too cold throughout the day. You can get the fast-acting gel hand warmers just about anywhere in town, but there are also reusable hand warmers available at certain specialty shops and online.

#6: A bathing suit

One of the more surprising things you’ll want to put on your packing list is a bathing suit. Many of our properties at Mammoth Mountain Reservations have access to jacuzzis, which is a great way to unwind at the end of a long day of skiing or snowboarding. Our area also has a few amazing spas, such as Snowcreek Athletic Club here in town and Double Eagle Resort in June Lake. Or, you might opt for a dip in the natural Whitmore Hot Springs.

No matter which relaxing option you choose, you won’t want to find yourself without a bathing suit!

#7: A set of chains

Okay, this one is maybe not the most surprising thing on our list. But, it’s very common for newcomers to forget to bring chains or cables for their car. That being said, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t remember to bring them; there are chain-installation stations along the highways heading into town. If you can manage to get them locally before coming up to the mountains, though, you’ll likely save some money.

Nowadays, you’ll be hard-pressed to find places that offer chain rentals. But, depending on where you go to buy your chains, you may be able to return them for a partial refund if you don’t end up using them. Talk to your local auto parts store to learn about their return policy.

#8: A winter emergency pack

One final thing that you would never catch a local without is an emergency car pack. This kit is filled with a few essentials that you’ll need if you get stuck in your car:

  • Potable water. You can drink snow water in an emergency but you’ll need to find a way to melt it first. A better option is to have potable water in your car.

  • An ice scraper and shovel

  • Matches and an emergency candle. A slow-burning candle will give off heat and prevent you from having to use your car battery.

  • Sand or cat litter. This can provide traction under your tires if you’re stuck.

  • Jumper cables. 

  • Reflective warning triangles. In a sea of white, this can help a rescue team find your car.

It’s also a good idea to have non-perishable food in your emergency kit, but remember that bears sometimes come out of hibernation during the winter. You should never leave food in your car when you’re not in it.

You’re ready for your first trip to Mammoth Lakes

Throw in a couple of warm wool sweaters, your ski gear and maybe even a disposable camera, and you’re in for one exciting adventure! And if you’ve visited us in the past, we’d love to know what your must-haves are for a trip to Mammoth!

Check out our Mammoth Resorts to find the perfect stay.