Don’t Get El Nino’ed during your Mammoth Lakes Vacation!

Don’t Get El Nino’ed during your Mammoth Lakes Vacation!

By Lauren Tracy, Broker-Associate at Mammoth Properties


This winter has been a doozy for weary travelers coming in from the cities where driving in snow is not something familiar.  It is common these days to see ill prepared visitors in vehicles stranded on the side of the road in a snowbank, or standing in the middle of the highway completely disoriented holding up a roadmap in a blizzard.

Here are some basic safety tips to keep you and your family safe during these difficult travel conditions:

  • Carry tire chains a snow shovel and a flashlight in your vehicle at all times. You may need to shovel out of your driveway. It is common to have a 2-foot snowfall in 10 hours during our biggest storms of the season. Don’t be caught unprepared!


  • Use public transportation around the town. There is free shuttle service to all parts of town.  Once you arrive, leave your car and don’t drive when the roads are icy and wet.


  • Put your chains on your vehicle after exiting the 395 Hwy at the beginning of the 203 Hwy. If there is a storm in progress, there will be men at the right side of the road before you go uphill into town to do this for you for a fee, usually $20 – $40 if you don’t know how to do this yourself.  This is an excellent way to stay safe.


  • Wear waterproof shoes like Sorels or other rubber shoes. Bring waterproof and windproof jacket and pants. These are your best defense against the elements. There is slush on warm days and deep snow on cold days to walk through.  So many visitors have soaked leather Uggs, wet leather jackets and undoubtedly very wet and cold socks while walking around town.


  • Bring a hat or “beanie” as the locals call them to stay warm outside. Most of your heat leaves through your head.  You will stay much warmer if going outside by wearing a hat that covers your ears. You should also have a face mask and scarf during storms to be comfortable both on the mountain and in town.


  • Do not stop in the middle of the road or intersection to put on chains. If you’ve neglected to put them on before entering town, be SURE to pull to the side of the road out of the way of traffic. Use your hazard lights when you pull over to alert drivers to your “out of commission” status.



  • Maintain your speed when driving up hill and do not stop until you reach the top. When driving downhill go very slowly to avoid losing control and not being able to stop. Know where the dangerous areas are to drive and avoid those or know how to drive them: the road up the hill to Mammoth Ski & Racquet Club is notorious for drivers going too slow uphill or too fast downhill and sliding into other cars, along with Davison Street going up to Canyon Lodge. The road going to Main Lodge has many treacherous turns that send drivers off the side into the snowbanks.  Drive very slowly on this road to avoid spinning out.


  • Do not attempt to drive to the hot springs off Benton Crossing road during a snowstorm, or drive on any other unpaved roads. AAA will not come for you there and you will be completely stranded in dangerously cold conditions.  Hopefully you have a friend to call who has a high clearance 4×4.  If not, be prepared to sit in a hot spring possibly all night long until someone else comes along to rescue you.  This is a true story.


Thanks for checking in with Properties of Mammoth!  Have a safe and fun Winter!

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