What Was Mammoth Like Before the Great Recession?

We began coverage of Mammoth Lakes during the Summer of 2008.

Across mountain towns in California (Mammoth), Montana (Whitefish) and Colorado (Pagosa Springs, Durango and Silverton) the younger Distant Exurbans those 56Y3T4 Millennials disappeared.


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.

Part One:  Mammoth

We began coverage of Mammoth Lakes during the Summer of 2008.

Location At-A-Glance

Region: Western United States,

State: California

Travel Region: Sierra Nevada Region; Eastern Sierra

County: Mono County

Patchwork County: Immigration Nation

Town: Mammoth Lakes, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

Population Density: Town and Country

Real Estate Phase: Early Maturity

Zip Codes: 93546

Ski Area Citizens Scorecards:

(B) Mammoth Mountain Ski Area 69.1% (Fall 2008)

(B) Mammoth Mountain Ski Area 71.8% (Fall 2012)

City Data filled in a more complete picture.

Nearest zip codes: 93634, 93529, 93512, 93514, 93541, 93605.

Nearest cities:

  • June Lake, CA 3.3 miles,
  • McGee Creek, CA 3.3 miles,
  • Crowley Lake, CA 3.7 miles,
  • Aspen Springs, CA 4.0 miles,
  • Sunny Slopes, CA 4.2 miles,
  • Swall Meadows, CA 4.5 miles,
  • Lee Vining, CA 4.8 miles, and
  • Round Valley, CA 5.1 miles.

Many tourists playing in the Eastern Sierra adventure communities may believe that Mammoth Lakes would be similar to Bishop.

Bishop’s Patchwork County (Inyo County) description after all is “Service Worker Centers.”

“Midsize and small towns with economies fueled by hotels, stores and restaurants and lower-than-average median household income by county.”

The more in-depth description provides clues.

“Some of the Service Worker Centers are small-town vacation communities along the coasts or near inland lakes that get a boost through tourism.

Residents make their money working at cafés, restaurants and curio shops, while the local governments draw revenue from hotel taxes.

Others are simply local commerce hubs for the scattered populations around them, places to buy necessities or do business with local government.

These are not places you go to do high-end shopping.

Bishop, California

The Service Worker Centers generally holds places with one main street or main intersection that is more designed around needs than wants – diners more than four-star restaurants.

There is a strain conservatism that runs through these counties, largely arising out of distrust of big city wealth and big government, but those conservative leanings do not have the same social conservative undertones to them.”

However, for Mono County, the Patchwork Nation Profile is “Immigration Nation”

“Communities with large Latino populations and lower-than-average incomes, typically clustered in the South and Southwest.”

The more in-depth description doesn’t seem to ring true, may be emerging or overlooked by  vacationers like us.

“These places are not necessarily overwhelmingly or even majority Hispanic, rather they are places with large Hispanic populations where there tends to be a strong divide in the community between Hispanics and Anglos.

Immigration Nation counties often hold communities within communities – one where almost all business and conversation is done in English and one where Spanish dominates.

Walk or drive a few blocks and you might find not only different kinds of grocery stores and different languages are the registers, but different products on the shelves.

The different ethnicities and backgrounds of the people in these counties can cause increased tensions from both sides.

In some communities these tensions can lead to dysfunctional relationships and governance.”

With so much change at hand, we take three glances at the Mammoth Lakes profiles.

  • One during the summer of 2008 which serves as a baseline.
  • The second during one of our winter ski and snowboarding holiday trips at the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014.
  • And the third eight years after Mammoth’s baseline during the summer of 2016.

Let’s start with the beginning baseline.

Profile At-A-Glance (Summer 2008)

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

Ages: 20-29, 25-54, 55+

Community Neighbors:

Wireless Resorters

Maturing Resorts — WRMR

23Y2T2, Greenbelt Sports, 25-54, Mainstream Singles, Country Comfort

28M2T2,Traditional Times, Empty Nests, 55+ Baby Boomers, Country Comfort

32F3T2, New Homesteaders, 55+Boomer, Mainstream Families, Country Comfort

Resort Suburbans — WRRS

42Y3T3, Red White Blues, 20-29, Striving Singles, Middle America

Distant Exurbans — WRDE

56Y3T4, Crossroads Villagers, 20-29, Striving Singles, Rustic Living

Over the following five years the 20-29 Singles leave by the winter of 2013 – 2014 eliminating two segments of Wireless Resorter lifestyles – Resort Suburbans and Distant Exurbans.

The WRRS Resort Suburbans vacated rentals on the edge of town, while the WRDE Distant Exurbans moved away from their more rustic living digs.

Three long time neighborhood lifestyles commonly associated with Maturing Resort communities remained.

Older Mainstream Singles, Empty Nesters, and Mainstream Families.

Most likely those who could wait out the worst that 2009 to 2014 would bring.

While Mammoth, like Whitefish, Montana, said goodbye to the 42Y3T3, Striving Single, 20-29 year olds, the zip code surrounding Tahoe City and Sunnyside bordering Lake Tahoe said hello .

Such wasn’t the case for the second lifestyle.

The goodbyes to the 20-29 striving singles used to rustic living and lower incomes felt more permanent.

Winter Fun

Across mountain towns in California (Mammoth), Montana (Whitefish) and Colorado (Pagosa Springs, Durango and Silverton) the younger Distant Exurbans those 56Y3T4 Millennials disappeared.

They probably returned home as so many other Millennials did during the Great Recession.

NOTE: Don’t feel too bad for them. According to our 2016 update, they may be flocking back to Telluride, Colorado.

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


20) Pivot. Maybe the lists of best places don’t appeal to you. Where can you go to make a fresh, new start? Don’t limit your imagination. Think anywhere — across the globe. Where do you really, really want to live, work and play?  Why not live where it’s a vacation all year round?

26) If you know the zip code you can discover the lifestyles living in the community. You can compare your profile with theirs to estimate your degree of fit.

27) Estimate how well suited you are for the resorts. Refer to “Profiles-at-a-Glance” comparing 2008-2009 and 2013-2014 for changes in Life Stages – Singles, Couples, Families, Midlife, Empty Nests, Baby Boomers and Seniors; Ages – 20-29, 25-54, 30-44, 45+ 45-65, 55+ and 65+; and mix of Lifestyles in neighborhoods. Does the resort still offer the age, life stage and lifestyle profiles you prefer?

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 valuations and sky-high property taxes?

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