How To Visit Mammoth Lakes Without A Ski Pass

Here are 5 Activities you don’t want to miss when you visit Mammoth Lakes, CA—that don’t require a ski pass.

Visit Mammoth Lakes! After shutting down operation due to COVID-19 in March 2020, the re-opening has come as a relief after the town go it’s first snow a week ago. But Mammoth Mountain isn’t the only attraction Mono County has to offer. And with a limited selection of tickets available to non-Ikon Pass holders per day, you might not get access to the resort.

2020-12-11_0001.jpg1. Snowshoe in the Lakes Basin

The Tamarack Cross-Country Ski Center offers groomed runs for cross country skiers—this requires a pass with the cross country ski center. There is a public use trail that leads from Tamarack to Horseshoe Lakes. This takes you deeper into the Mammoth Lakes beauty! I recommend making your way up Panorama Dome. It is .8 miles from the Lake Mary Rd trailhead and takes about 4 hours round trip. Head up the road further to make it to a vista at Lake George with the iconic Crystal Crag in the background. This is about 2 miles from the trailhead.

You can find a list of open trails here.

Looking for rental gear when you visit Mammoth Lakes? You can find snowshoes and other gear available for rent at Mammoth Mountaineering. They also have rentals available at the Tamarack Cross-Country Ski Center.


2. Go sledding off the Mammoth Scenic Loop

Snow play isn’t limited to what Mammoth Mountain has to offer—grab a sled at any of the local stores, at some hot coco to your thermos, and head to the Mammoth Scenic Loop. You’ll probably see others pulled off on the side of the road sledding but don’t stop too soon! There are great places all along the road—I’d recommend going at least two/three miles up.

Just remember! Based on conditions, sledding can get EXTREME so please be careful!

3. Beer tasting at Public House

Now it’s time to sit down and enjoy a beverage! Avoid the crowds of the Village and experience Mammoth as a local by paying the Public House a visit. Just off the main road going through Mammoth, Public House has 50 taps varying from local breweries to far away classics. There is something for everyone (including the gluten-free drinkers!) I recommend grabbing a flight and trying one of the Hazy IPA’s from local spot Distant Brewery and an IPA from June Lake Brewery. Okay okay or don’t try the IPA’s—just follow your heart. Their party sized pretzel is a great accompaniment to any brew your choose!


4. Hire a Guide!

There’s no better way to have an unforgettable experience than hiring a guide to get you deep into the snowy wilderness. Imagine yourself atop a mountain with no one else in sight or traveling across a snowy, trackless meadow. Why pay to stand in line at the resort when you can use the money to a local company that will equip and teach you the skills to get out into the backcountry? We recommend working with International Alpine Guides and the Sierra Mountain Guides.


5. Ice Skating at Mammoth Ice Rink

Opening just after Thanksgiving on Nov 27th, the Mammoth Ice Rink is the perfect spot to move your body this winter. They offer Holiday and weekend rates starting at $8 for the kiddos and $10 for adults. If you are here midweek, they offer discounted rates! Tickets are only $6.50 for children and $8.50 for adults. Children under 5 skate free with an adult ticket. It’s a fun way to get everyone outside! You can check the schedule here.


6. BONUS: Eat at Dos Alas Cubarician Restaurant

I’m saving the best for last—if you did any of the activities above you’re probably going to be hungry for a good meal and some great atmosphere. Well, I have the PERFECT spot for you. Head over the the Sierra Meadows for Mammoth’s best kept secret—Dos Alas Cubarician Restaurant. They serve great food and are also incredible people. Christy cooks up some mean Cubanos! Don’t forget to add rice and beans to your order! Both are delicious. There is something for meat eaters and vegetarians. Mine and Lucas’ go-to order is sharing one Cubano and one Guava Manchego grilled cheese with a side of puertorican style beans and Yucca. They do not take reservations and offer order to go!

This year is asking us to get creative! I hope these ideas help you make the most of your next visit to Mammoth Lakes. Please remember to pack out whatever you bring with you into the outdoors and try to leave this beautiful place better than you found it.

Feel free to ask me for more information or tips! Hit the little email icon at the bottom of the sidebar and ask away! I’m happy to help. Don’t forget to invite me on your fun too! I love to photograph couples and families.

Stay safe out there!

  1. […] Looking for winter activities that don’t include skiing? I’ve got you covered! […]

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Jaymie is a Mammoth Lakes & Zion Photographer. She specializes in documenting small weddings & elopements.