At the risk of giving up a super locals’ secret, June Mountain is simply the best place to ski on the Eastside. When the Christmas or President’s Day weekend crowds descend on Mammoth Mountain, you’ll find any resident worth their salt driving the (less than) half hour up the road to June to ride sick powder in the trees, which hangs on long after a storm has passed.
Trouble with June is, it’s lower in elevation (at 10,040 feet) than Mammoth, but that’s the peak of the hill. The ticket office, where skiers and snowboarders load the infamous and creaky double-seater, J1 (probably one of the main reasons that June’s slopes remain so wide-open) is at 7,545 feet. So, unfortunately, it’s often the case that with warm storms, what may bring snow to Mammoth brings rain to June. The resort also hasn’t invested nearly the resources in snowmaking as Mammoth has (both resorts are owned by the same parent company, the newly-merged Aspen-KSL which recently adopted the name “Alterra Mountain Company”).
A few years back, during the height of California’s drought, Mammoth Mountain went so far as to close the resort for the season due to lack of snow.
But when it’s on, it’s on. Small crowds mean almost no lift lines (excepting maybe the line to load the slow-as-molasses J1). Long, meandering runs through the trees off of J7 (which takes skiers and boarders to the top of June Mountain) are epic after a storm, and even the wide-open runs don’t get tracked out within seconds like they do at Mammoth (sometimes you can find freshies out in the open even an hour after the lifts first load).
Stewpot Slim’s is the most chill spot ever for relaxing with a beer in the sunshine and watching skiers coast down the hill (there’s always an ‘80s station on), and the June Mountain Chalet serves incomparable Bloody Marys with a view over Gull and June Lakes below.
Add in that kids under 12 ski free and June really has it all—but don’t tell anyone we told you.
Sarah Rea is a freelance dirtbag-turned-journalist who has been living in the Sierra on and off for twenty years, with eight spent in Yosemite National Park and five in Mammoth Lakes. She likes dogs, rocks, good food and jumping into cold water.