Winter Driving: Tips for Driving in Snow in Mammoth Lakes

Oct 23, 2021

You’re planning a visit to Mammoth Lakes for some skiing and winter fun. Excellent! We’re looking forward to seeing you. Whether you’re flying and renting a car or driving your own vehicle, winter travel always means you could run into winter weather on the road.

These tips will help you to stay safe on the roads during and after a snowstorm or other winter weather.

Tips for Winter Driving in Mammoth Lakes

Clear Your Car of Snow

Whether a storm brings three inches of snow or three feet of snow, clearing off your car in its entirety is the first step to safe driving in winter conditions. The front windshield and windows are obvious parts of the car that need attention before driving, but many people forget to clear off the roof of the vehicle. Snow piled on the roof can come loose when the vehicle is in motion and can be dangerous for both the driver and other vehicles on the road. And lastly, clear off the headlights and taillights before hitting the road so other vehicles can see your car, especially in foggy or snowy conditions.

Leave Extra Travel Time

Trips to the mountains can take longer during winter, especially if you encounter storm conditions or icy roads. Get an early start and allow plenty of time to get to your destination. Excessive speed is an invitation for trouble on snow or ice and is the major cause of traffic accidents during winter. Winter road conditions leave very little margin for driver error and very little opportunity for safe, quick braking. Going too fast definitely increases your chances of being involved in an accident. So please, SLOW DOWN!

Expect Icy Spots

After a storm, many roads will soon be clear, but there are places throughout town, especially in shady areas, bridges and underpasses where there will be patches of black ice for some time. Late night or early morning hours are especially dangerous since moisture has had a chance to accumulate. So be on the lookout for these spots and slow down before you get to them.

Stock up on Gas and Supplies

Changing route or turning back may be necessary during a bad storm. Or you may be caught in a traffic delay. Keep your gas tank as full as possible and take water, food, warm blankets and extra clothing with you on your drive. A lengthy delay will make you glad you have them.

Carry the Proper Equipment

Winter driving requires proper winter driving equipment. All vehicles are required to carry snow chains during storms. Other recommended items include an ice scraper or commercial deicer, a broom or brush for clearing snow, a shovel to free your car if it’s “snowed in”.

Expect Poor Visibility

Visibility is often limited in winter by weather conditions. Slow down and watch for other vehicles, snow equipment and wildlife. Even though snow removal vehicles have flashing lights, visibility may be so restricted during a storm that it is difficult to see the slow-moving equipment.

Be Willing to Pull Over

If the storm becomes too dangerous to drive in and you are forced to pull over, stay with your vehicle and try to conserve fuel while maintaining warmth. Be alert to any possible exhaust or monoxide problems while you wait in your vehicle.

But Don’t Park Illegally

Because of overnight plowing, parking on any town roadway is illegal from November 1 through April 30.  Park your vehicle in designated areas and be sure to be well inside the orange snow stakes to avoid a collision with snow removal equipment.

Road Condition Information

The California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) officials urge you to check road conditions often. Call 800-427-7623 for up-to-the-minute information or visit the CalTrans website for road conditions and closure information in California.

If you’re traveling through Nevada on your way to Mammoth Lakes, the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) provides similar updates for Nevada road conditions via phone at 877-687-6237 or on the NDOT website.



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Winter in Mammoth Lakes