Winter Photographs That Will Make Your Friends Jealous

When it comes to capturing winter’s majestic beauty, no place compares to Mammoth Lakes in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. With a thick blanket of pure-white snow, winter is the ideal time to capture and share epic photos of this legendary mountain playground.  Whether it’s cross-country skiing in the Mammoth Lakes Basin or a scenic gondola ride at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, there are amazing landscapes all around you. A winter adventure here is enough to make friends and family envious, but throw in some breathtaking pictures of this snow-covered wonderland and you’ll be watching the ‘likes’ pile up. From unbelievable views of snow-capped peaks to steaming natural hot springs, Mammoth Lakes has a photo opportunities to make anyone jealous of your visit.    

Here are a few places where you can snap amazing winter photos around Mammoth Lakes. Getting some great shots while you’re here? Make sure to post your best shots with the hashtag #visitmammoth.  

The Traditionalist: Mammoth Mountain Ski Area Summit

When comparing mountain-top viewpoints, few places rival that of the summit of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. At 11,053 ft. in elevation, the peak of Mammoth Mountain hovers above town and provides 360-degree views of the endless Sierra Nevada Mountains. From the jagged, snow-covered peaks of the Minaret Range that rise like white fangs from the San Joaquin Valley to the distant waters of Lake Crowley, you’ll find unforgettable photo opportunities in every direction.

Accessing the summit is easy via a 10-minute, suspended-cable gondola ride. The enclosed gondola whisks skiers, snowboarders, and sightseers to inspiring views from the “top of the Sierra”.  You’ll also find food, drinks, indoor seating, and the Eleven53 Interpretive Center, which is run in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service and has interactive displays about the region.  

Getting to the summit requires a short drive or bus ride to the Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge.  The free Red Line bus travels from downtown Mammoth Lakes to the Main Lodge on 20-minute increments and eliminates the hassle of parking. Tickets for the scenic gondola are available in the lodge and as a reminder, the gondola ride and the summit may be chilly, so dress accordingly.

The Adventurer: On the Snow in the Lakes Basin

Mammoth Lakes is full of adventure and for those active individuals that enjoy the outdoors, nothing beats cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the Mammoth Lakes Basin during the winter months. With dozens of miles of groomed trail winding through majestic pine forests and around several lakes, envy-inducing photo opportunities are everywhere! From exploring log cabins of the Depression-era Pine City ghost town to winter birdwatching along the shores of ice-covered Lake Mary, it’s difficult not to take inspiring pictures.  

To get to the Mammoth Lakes Basin in the winter, travel to the end of Lake Mary Road via automobile or catch the free Orange Line bus from the Village at Mammoth.  The road is maintained to the Tamarack Lodge at Twin Lakes, where you will find gear rentals and groomed-trail access. Parking may be limited during busy times, so taking the shuttle is recommended.

The Explorer: Hot Creek Geologic Site

For those travelers in pursuit of a truly unique winter photograph, a visit to Hot Creek Geologic Site is a must. At this interpretive site, bubbling hot springs create an ethereal veil of steam that rises above Hot Creek and shrouds the mountainous backdrop. Dozens of vantage points allow you to capture dramatic shots from the rim of the gorge above the creek. This area is a truly unique geological setting, and these serene natural springs will surely make everyone on Instagram jealous of your escapades.  

Accessing Hot Creek Geologic Site may require snowshoes or cross-country skis during periods of heavy snow, as the final mile of roadway may not be plowed. Generally, the Hot Creek Road is clear during much of the winter, as access is immediately behind the Mammoth Lakes/Yosemite Airport. For current conditions, advisories, directions, and advice, please check at the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center before venturing out to Hot Creek anytime during the winter months. Regardless of road conditions, be mindful that the pathway into the gorge may be slippery.  

A Few Other Jealousy-Inducing Winter Photograph Adventures:

Jason Abplanalp

Jason Abplanalp first discovered the Eastern Sierra lifestyle six years ago and after brief tenures in Colorado and Idaho, Jason returned to the mountain town he truly loves, Mammoth Lakes, CA. As an avid skier, mountain biker, hiker, and fisherman, Jason believes there is no better place for his family to call home. Jason has…

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