Traveling From Los Angeles to Mammoth Lakes
Located in the heart of the breathtaking Sierra Nevada Mountains, scenic Mammoth Lakes is only a short travel adventure away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles and Southern California. The lofty peaks and crystal-clear alpine wasters of the rural Eastern Sierra are easily accessible whether traveling by plane, train, bus, or automobile. The most difficult part of getting to this mountain playground might be deciding which mode of transportation you’ll take.
With so many ways to get to Mammoth Lakes from LA and the surrounding area, there is no excuse for not visiting this spectacular mountain destination. Regardless of how you make the trip, Mammoth Lakes is a world-class mountain town located in the heart one of the most gorgeous and serene landscapes on the planet. Traveling here is part of the Mammoth Lakes experience, so here are some tips to make travel planning easy.
Flying from Southern California to Mammoth Lakes
For speed and convenience, nothing beats flying into the Mammoth Lakes/Yosemite Airport. Located only 10 minutes from downtown Mammoth Lakes, this full-service facility welcomes Southern Californians after a short flight over the endless peaks of the legendary Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. With daily year-round service from LAX and additional flights from mid-December to early April, a visit to Mammoth Lakes is less than an hour away by plane. If you’re looking for an upgraded travel experience, fly Burbank (BUR) with JetSuite X, a charter air service offering private flights at commercial rates four days a week from mid-December to early April.
On the ground, air travelers will find friendly and professional staff, a snack bar, car rental and other ground transportation. Mammoth Mountain and several lodging properties provide shuttle service from the airport for their guests. Once in town a fantastic public transportation (bus) system services all areas of Mammoth Lakes, including Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. For those that prefer their own set of wheels to get around, rental cars are available at the Mammoth Lakes/Yosemite Airport, including Enterprise, and several taxi companies provide airport service. You can also find more information on ground transportation options.
The Mammoth Lakes/Yosemite airport is serviced by both Alaskan and United airlines. For the frequent traveler, Mammoth Lakes offers a very reasonable 10-pack of flights from Southern California. First-time visitors can also find some helpful tips for flying into the Mammoth Lakes/Yosemite Airport during the winter.
Driving from Southern California to Mammoth Lakes
Nothing beats the freedom of the open highway and a road trip to Mammoth Lakes from Southern California takes travelers from the cactus-studded landscape of the Mojave Desert into the broad Owens Valley. Flanked by some of North America’s most impressive mountains and lined with ancient glacial lake beds, it's easy to see why U.S. Highway 395 is considered a Scenic Byway as it passes through this geologically diverse wonderland. Once out of the city, the traffic density dwindles and you’re able to revel in the region's impressive natural beauty.
In the 1930’s when Mammoth Lakes was just beginning to gain notoriety as a tourist destination, the drive from L.A. could take up to 3 days. Today the drive takes only 5 to 6 hours, depending on travel conditions. For driving directions and expected travel times from Southern California, read more here.
Along the way, several quaint high-desert towns remind visitors of the rural Old West while providing full services to travelers. From chain restaurants to locally-famous eateries and charming hotels, visitors are able to find suitable meals and lodging. For those interested in exploring the Owens Valley, visit the comprehensive www.scenic395.com for adventure ideas and travel planning.
Driving in the Eastern Sierra during the winter may mean experiencing inclement weather, so it is important to be prepared. Cal Trans does an amazing job keeping U.S. 395 and State Route 203 in top condition, but it is recommended that travelers check the CalTrans website for current conditions and advisories. Find more Eastern Sierra winter driving tips on our blog.
Travel By Bus and Train
For those that prefer to skip driving and flying, year-round train and bus service is available to Mammoth Lakes. This convenient and budget-friendly option costs travelers around $50 in combined ticket costs each way. Plus, utilizing bus and train travel promotes a flexible schedule, which is important just in case you decide to stay in the mountains for a few extra days.
To get to Mammoth Lakes by rail and coach, take the Metrolink train from downtown L.A.’s Union Station (or points around) to Lancaster, CA. Then catch Eastern Sierra Transit’s ski and snowboard friendly coach bus northward on U.S. 395 to Mammoth Lakes. Bike racks are available and the bus serves downtown Mammoth Lakes, immediately near Red Line/Town Trolley bus stops for convenient access to any point in town.
ES Transit's Southern California bus service currently operates on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and reservations are suggested. Visit ES Transit’s “395 Routes Page” for more information. Find more information on Metrolink train service here.