Winter Van Life at Mammoth Mountain
We pull into our campsite in the evening, finding our first free campsite of the year. After making camp, we cook dinner, let the pup out to run, then turn in for the night. In the morning, grab our coffee and we make our way down to the natural hot spring adjacent to our campsite. Soaking up the beauty around us, we sip our coffee and start the day.
Welcome to Mammoth Mountain
Gone are the days of hardcore skiing and being in line when the lifts open. It's now Spring skiing, where everything is more laid back. Powder says are a distant memory, and now the afternoon sun beats down to melt the snow, blurring the lines between water skiing and snow skiing. Pulling into the main lodge area, we quickly realize that Mammoth Mountain Resort is broken up into several different “base areas.” Rather than having a single main base area, the mountain is broken up into 5 (ish?) different main areas: the Main Lodge, the Canyon Lodge, The Mills on Minaret Road, The Eagle Lodge, and the Village (which takes you to the Canyon Lodge). Confusing? Yes. But it’s not that bad once you get on the mountain. Check out the interactive trail map HERE.
Spring Skiing at Mammoth
After getting our bearings on the mountain, we set out for our first couple runs. The morning snow was more ice than snow, so the skiing was mediocre at best. After a few tries on different trails, we decided that dodging fallen skiers on the ice wasn’t the best way to spend the morning. Instead, we opted for an early beer break at the lodge to wait for the ice to melt a bit.
New Friends on the Mountain
We’re glad we decided to take that break and hang out for a bit, because we ran into a new friend while waiting out the ice! We had met Sean at the hot springs a few nights prior and hadn’t gotten any contact information from him. When he saw us at the lodge, he took the opportunity to show us around his home mountain. Once we all finished a drink, we headed up again to find better skiing. With a local as our guide, it wasn’t long before we found some fast, grippy slush-snow that made for some fantastic runs. We followed Sean around the mountain the rest of the day, soaking in his knowledge of the area. The best way, by far, to learn a new area is to find a local to guide you!
Mammoth Hot Springs
A well known area for natural hot springs, the BLM land around Mammoth is fantastic for free camping. Wide open areas and plenty of room makes it accessible to most every kind of vehicle – from large motorhomes to small cars, although certain roads may not be accessible to low clearance vehicles. The hot springs in the area make it a popular site for both day trips and overnight camping.
Free Camping Near Mammoth Mountain
We camped in this area for nearly two weeks. Between the views of the Sierras and the hot springs at our doorstep, it was difficult to pry us away. During our visit, we camped in a few different spots, all equally gorgeous. The only downside was the lack of public showers in the area. We found only one RV park (if you can call it that) that offered showers for $5 per person, which was at the Mammoth Mountain RV Park.
The showers, however, were the push-button type that doesn’t allow you to control the temperature. So while the beginning of the shower was scalding hot, the majority of the time it was freezing cold. Not such a relaxing shower, unfortunately. Laundry facilities were equally disappointing at the RV park and after an hour of drying time, we decided to give up and hang dry our clothes. I’d recommend finding a different laundromat during your visit.
Saying Goodbye to Paradise and Winter Vanlife
Although Mammoth and the surrounding area seemed to be heaven on earth, we did eventually have to leave. Much to our dismay, of course! This was our last stop on our Winter #Vanlife tour, and we are sad to see it end. But Spring is here and we’re ready for some warm weather activities, so stay tuned for the next big adventure!