Mammoth Lakes: From Hardships to Hope

Then in June, management at Mammoth Mountain, the resort that dominates the town, trimmed staff, cut salaries and announced the shuttering of its June Mountain ski operation.


Photo: Visual Hunt
By the Winter of 2013 -2014 the first Premier Resort lifestyle segment flew into the scene –  midlife families on the fast-track taking advantage of the real estate deals.


An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

Final Installment in a Seven Part Series:

Part One:  Mammoth

Part Two: What Was Mammoth Like Before the Great Recession?

Part Three: Chains that Bind – Bankruptcy, Foreclosures and No Snow

Part Four: Stuck in the Middle with You

Part Five: Breathtaking Mountain Panoramas and Bullet Holes

Part Six: Temple of Folly, Clocks Cleaned and Repaired

Highlights and Headlines

5-Year Time Frames  2009 – 2014

Winter 2012 – 2013

Hoping for a better future

How Bad Things Have Been This Year

Before we get to the early snow, the new businesses, the zipping skiers and beaming boarders at Mammoth Lakes, let’s remember how bad things have been this year for this corner of the Eastern Sierra.

Photo: Stephen G. Howard

How bad was it?

Scant Snow In The 2011-12 Season Shuttering Of Its June Mountain

First, Mother Nature delivered scant snow in the 2011-12 season, driving tourism down just as the larger economy seemed to be recovering. Then in June, management at Mammoth Mountain, the resort that dominates the town, trimmed staff, cut salaries and announced the shuttering of its June Mountain ski operation — a painful blow to the tiny mountain community of June Lake, 20 miles north of Mammoth.

Photo: Visual Hunt

Financial Hardships

Mammoth Lakes Declared Bankruptcy

Oh, and in July the town of Mammoth Lakes declared bankruptcy after it lost a breach-of-contract lawsuit. Recovery, town officials said, would depend on layoffs, pay cuts and a plan to make debt payments of $2 million a year for 23 years.

June Lake Local Businesses Are Doing Without

These have been hard times, especially in June Lake, where local businesses are doing without their own ski mountain for the first time in decades.

Deals to bring skiers and boarders back for new season

Westin Monache Resort Mammoth

Westin Monache Resort Mammoth, 50 Hillside Drive, Mammoth Lakes; (760) 934-0400, Some 230 rooms (all with kitchenettes) in contemporary style, with Whitebark restaurant downstairs. Winter rates $299-$599 for most rooms, more during peak time.

Photo: Visual Hunt

Village Lodge

Village Lodge, 1111 Forest Trail, Mammoth Lakes; (800) 626-6684, Vacation condos. Winter rates $289-$669 for a one-bedroom condo, plus $20-a-night resort fee.

Swiss Chalet Bed & Breakfast Inn

Swiss Chalet Bed & Breakfast Inn, 101 Hill Street, Mammoth Lakes; (760) 914-3452, Opened this summer, the inn has two rooms with private baths in a modern log home with a spacious great room, picture windows and a deck with whirlpool. Winter rates typically $200-$275.

Mammoth Mountain Inn

Mammoth Mountain Inn, 10001 Minaret Road, Mammoth Lakes; (800) 626-6684, A short walk from the lift lines, but gets mixed marks on TripAdvisor. Some 217 rooms. Winter rates $129-$398

Our second profile glance picked up some of changes to Mammoth’s community.

Profile At-A-Glance (Winter 2013-2014)

Life Stages: Singles, Families, Baby Boomers, Empty Nests

Ages: 25-54, 35-54, 55+

Community Neighbors:

Wireless Resorters

Premier Resorts – WRPR

20F2T1, Fast-Track Families, 35-54, Families, Young Accumulators, Landed Gentry, WRPR Premier Resorts, Wireless Resorters

Maturing Resorts — WRMR

23Y2T2, Greenbelt Sports, 25-54, Mainstream Singles, Country Comfort, WRMR Maturing Resorts, Wireless Resorters

28M2T2, Traditional Times, Empty Nests, 55+, Couples, Conservative Classics, WRMR Maturing Resorts, Wireless Resorters

32F3T2, New Homesteaders, 25-54, Mainstream Families, Country Comfort, WRMR Maturing Resorts, Wireless Resorters

33F3T2, Big Sky Families, 25-54, Mainstream Families, Country Comfort, WRMR Maturing Resorts, Wireless Resorters

By Winter of 2013 -2014 the first Premier Resort lifestyle segment flew into the scene –  midlife families on the fast-track taking advantage of the real estate deals.

Two of the WRMR – Maturing Resort – lifestyles, 55+ age Empty Nests and Mainstream Families depart.

But, another Mainstream Family, age 25-54, moves in.

In 2008 Mammoth said goodbye to the younger 20-29 Millennials.

Now, two Baby Boomer lifestyles fly away.

The first, 32F3T2 families, like in South Lake Tahoe, disappear from all the California, Nevada and Colorado mountain towns we visited.

Photo: Visual Hunt

But, the second, 28M2T2 Empty Nesters, show up in almost all of the those towns surrounding Lake Tahoe.

As well as in these Colorado towns:

And, then in California:

Like snow flurries that fall and don’t stick, at the end of the season in spring, Mammoth said hello and then goodbye to its only Premier Resort, Fast Track family lifestyle.

They, the 35-54 year old Young Accumulators (20F2T1), moved on to Olympic Valley – Squaw Valley.

Reading some of the 2013 headlines, in hindsight, you can notice some new opportunities and something positive was in the air.

Were things returning to normal?

Three seasons of highlights and headlines provide some clues.

Highlights and Headlines

5-Year Time Frames  2009 — 2014

Spring 2013

Extending Spring Snow Conditions

Tons Of Snow And Will Be Open Through Memorial Day

Photo: Visual Hunt

But not to worry, the resort has tons of snow and will be open through Memorial Day; In the meantime, it’s using those balmy temperatures as part of this quirky lodging deal:

Thriving in Lifestyle Businesses

Howard Sheckter, The Weather Sage Of The Eastern Sierra

A hailstorm ignited Howard Sheckter’s obsession with the elements. For three decades, the real estate agent has doubled as the weather sage of the eastern Sierra.

Range in Temperatures

Daily High Temperature At Main Lodge

Officials said the daily high temperature is based on the high temperature at Main Lodge recorded on the ski patrol website. To book, go to

Deals and Incentives

Discounts For Two Or More Nights

If you stay two or more nights at Mammoth from Saturday to May 23, you will receive a nightly discount based on the high temperature for the previous day. That means if it’s 50 degrees, you’ll get a $100 discount upon checkout for your two-day stay.

Summer 2013

June Mountain Season Passes

Open for Family Fun

Reopening Of June Mountain In Winter

This coming season also marks the reopening of June Mountain, the family friendly neighbor that closed last season. At Mammoth, meanwhile, Unbound Playgrounds and Adventure Zones, which offer a go-slow introduction to terrain parks for beginners and children, will have some additional interactive elements this winter.

Water Rights Settlement

LADWP Drops Two Lawsuits For $5.8 Million

In return for $5.8 million, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power drops two lawsuits. Each agrees not to challenge the other’s water rights.

Snowboarding Training and Contests

U.S. Olympians Training Ground

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Assn. has chosen Mammoth Mountain as an official training ground for U.S. Olympians in freeskiing and snowboarding. Mammoth Mountain, celebrating its 60th season this year, will help them prepare for upcoming Winter games in Sochi, Russia, which start in early February.

Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix

Around since the late ’90s, freeskiing involves jumps and tricks on terrain park features usually reserved for snowboarders. Additionally, the 2014 snowboarding team for halfpipe will be announced at Mammoth during the final Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix Jan. 18 and 19.

Fall 2013

Fall Colors in Creeks and Canyons

Quick Trip To Mammoth For Brilliant Fall Colors

California: Near Mammoth, fall color starts to creep in. Don’t believe California has fall color? Neither did a Vermont friend, so I took her on a quick trip to Mammoth last year so she could see for herself. She was surprised.

Photo by Stephen G. Howard

Rock Creek May Be At Its Brilliant Best This Weekend

Timing and elevation are everything, of course, so if you’re planning a trip this year, know that colors are beginning to appear at higher elevations. In fact, Rock Creek may be at its brilliant best this weekend.

Lundy Canyon, Bishop Creek and Rock Creek Canyon

From our trip last year, here’s what we saw along with some early color reports from this month. Just north of Lee Vining is Lundy Canyon, identified by California’s Eastern Sierra Color Guide and Map as one of the best places to see color (we also chose Bishop Creek and Rock Creek Canyon).

Waterfalls And Trails, Vistas And Forests

None of the drives was more than about 40 minutes from Mammoth. Lundy Canyon and Lake is beautiful any time of year, with waterfalls and trails, vistas and forests, but fall is special.

Photo by Stephen G. Howard

Color Has Now Descended To The 7,000 Feet In Elevation

Color spotter Christie Osborne reports in that color has now descended to the 7,000 feet in elevation and is approaching full peak at Mammoth Lakes, five hours away from L.A.

60s Daytime Temps Nights In The 20s And 30s

Poimiroo says daytime temps have been in the 60s with no wind. Nights remain cool in the 20s and 30s, providing optimal conditions for fall colors to intensify. The canyon roads west of Mammoth are always aflame in October, and the June Lake Loop is a can’t-miss destination.

Deer Spotting

Feeding Deer at June Lake, Past Village, Down Along Silver Lake

Best June Lake stretch is just past the village and down along Silver Lake, where tunnels of aspen line the road and deer come out to feed just before dusk. Bring a book, a camera, a camp chair and something to sip. Leave the rest to Mother Nature.


25) Compare what “life” was like in those communities before the Great Recession, how resilient each was during the economic downturn, and to what degree did each bounce back after with any “economic hangover.” 

28) Which lifestyles profiled in the western resort towns during 2008 – 2009 remained five years later in 2013-2014?  Which disappeared entirely? Why? Which new lifestyles emerged, grew or moved in to shift the neighborhood mix? Have longtime locals been forced out by escalating property 

30) Review headlines and relevant news as far back as you can find online to surface each community’s unique pulse and identify information necessary to make your decision. Is there a “ticking time bomb” issue you may uncover that eliminates the resort from your bucket list? Search on

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