California has some of the most premier mountains for skiing and snowboarding in the country. Case in point: it’s home to the “California double” — when you both ski and surf in the same day. The state is also home to one of the best destinations for family-friendly winter adventure in the country: June Mountain Ski Area. The sister resort to the more widely-known Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain has a more relaxed vibe with fewer crowds and a more family-friendly atmosphere. And since it’s just a half-hour from Mammoth, it’s an easy day trip for anyone visiting the area..
A trip to June Mountain Ski Area, near June Lake in the Eastern Sierra mountains southeast of Yosemite, feels like a much more intimate experience compared to the country’s bigger, busier, and more overwhelming ski resorts. The lift lines are short if there’s a line at all, and because the slopes aren’t as busy, fresh powder stays fresh for days without getting skied out within the hour. With 1,500 acres of terrain and 35 named trails, the whole family can take multiple runs and still have plenty of trails to explore. The resort also has stunning views of June and Gull Lakes, and from the top of the mountain you can see Mono Lake and Mammoth Mountain.
The resort is also known for its kid-centric activities. Kids under 12 can ski and ride for free every day of the year, and much of the terrain is geared toward beginner and intermediate riders. There’s also a small baby terrain park, perfect for younger skiers and snowboarders learning the basics. That said, the June Mountain area isn’t just about skiing and snowboarding.
Play in the snow at Woolly’s Tube Park
A half-hour south of June Mountain you’ll find Woolly’s Tube Park and Snow Play, part of Mammoth Mountain Resort. Slopes not treating you well? Want to share a slightly less frustrating winter experience with your kids? Try tubing at Woolly’s.
Catch a lift to the top, then slide down the groomed lanes in high-speed snow tubes. The best part about tubing is that you don’t need any prior experience, and kids of all ages can safely participate. There’s also a snow play area where you can build snowmen, make snow angels, hang out with the fuzzy mascot Woolly, and really get creative with your snow day. Once you’re ready to warm up a bit, a heated deck offers a snack bar with hot chocolate and adult beverages – the perfect place to sit and watch the snow-fun unfold.
Tickets cost $20-25, and are valid for sessions of one hour and fifteen minutes. The park is seasonal, opening in early winter, with the exact opening date depending on the weather.
Snowshoe in the legendary Mammoth Lakes
No family snow day would be complete without spending some time in Mammoth Lakes, a staple of California winter fun. Whether it’s skiing and snowboarding at Mammoth Mountain, going on a snowmobile adventure, or checking out a cozy wine bar, the area isn’t just great for families, but solo travelers and groups of friends too. If you are traveling with kids, however, snowshoeing might be Mammoth’s most fun and accessible activity for all ages.
Minaret Vista is among the best places to snowshoe in Mammoth Lakes. The gentle uphill slope is accommodating for beginners, and brings you to stunning views of the Minarets that define Mammoth’s iconic skyline. The 2.5-mile trail starts at the Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge, then branches away from the ski area up the snowy slopes.
The Mammoth Lakes Basin and the Lake Mary Winter Public Access Corridor offer plenty of other snowshoe options for families. The Panorama Dome Loop has some of the best views, looking out over Mammoth Crews, Sherwin Range, White Mountains, Glass Mountains, Mammoth Mountain, and the town of Mammoth Lakes.
Where to Stay
Given the region’s popularity, there are no shortage of places to stay in the Mammoth and June Mountain area. One of the most iconic accommodations, however, is the Mammoth Mountain Inn, a picture-perfect slopeside hotel right on Mammoth Mountain. With mountain views; ski-in, ski-out capability; a ski school; and full-service restaurant, bar, and coffee shop, this place has pretty much everything you could ask for in a winter holiday hotel. It’s also perfect for summer trips, thanks to its close proximity to Devils Postpile National Monument, Rainbow Falls, and the warm-weather adventure activities at the Mammoth Adventure Center.
Mammoth Mountain Inn: 10400 Minaret Rd, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
Where to Eat
It’s not really a day on the slopes without a little apres-ski. And yes, apres ski can still be family friendly. The Yodeler is Mammoth’s popular bar and restaurant that’ll make you feel like you’re in the Alps rather than northern California. The menu here is full of hearty, Bavarian-inspired favorites, bratwurst, fondue, schnitzel, and Oktoberfest-style beer steins. There are also plenty of kid plates. A large sundeck makes the restaurant ideal for catching some rays while dining and drinking, or you can cozy up to the indoor fireplace on particularly chilly days.
Yodeler: 10000 Minaret Rd., Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546