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Mammoth Lakes, California

Hidden Hills

December 30, 2022

Mammoth Lakes is a town in Mono County, California, and is the county's only incorporated community. It is located immediately to the east of Mammoth Mountain, at an elevation of 7,880 feet.  As of the 2020 United States Census, the population was 7,191, reflecting a 12.7% decrease from the 2010 Census.


The Mono people were the first settlers of the Mammoth Lakes area, thousands of years ago. They settled in the valley but traveled by foot to other areas when trading with different tribes.


The European history of Mammoth Lakes started in 1877, when four prospectors staked a claim on Mineral Hill, south of the current town, along Old Mammoth Road. In 1878, the Mammoth Mining Company was organized to mine Mineral Hill, which caused a gold rush. By the end of 1878, 1500 people settled in the mining camp called Mammoth City. By 1880, the company had shut down, and by 1888, the population declined to less than 10 people. By the early 1900s, the town of Mammoth was informally established near Mammoth Creek. The economy of the original town was based on logging and tourism.  The first post office at Mammoth Lakes opened in 1923.


In 2004, the Mammoth Ski Museum opened in town. The museum featured many vintage artifacts, photographs, and posters. A movie documenting the life of the founder of the ski resort (Dave McCoy) and those of early famous skiers in the area is shown. In 2010, photographs taken by Dave McCoy were featured in an exhibit at the museum.


In 2008, after a jury trial, the Mono County Superior Court entered a $43 million judgment against the Town of Mammoth Lakes for breach of a development agreement. The California Court of Appeal, Third District, affirmed the judgment in December 2010, and the California Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal on March 23, 2011.  On Monday July 2, 2012, Mammoth Lakes filed for bankruptcy in the face of the judgement.  Later the same year, the bankruptcy was dismissed as a result of a settlement between the town and their largest creditor.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 25.3 square miles (66 km2), of which 24.9 sq mi (64 km2) are land, and 0.4 sq mi (1.0 km2) (1.74%) water.


Mammoth Lakes lies on the edge of the Long Valley Caldera. The area around the town is geologically active, with hot springs and rhyolite domes that are less than 1000 years old.

Visitors can take State Route 203 from the town of Mammoth Lakes to the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, over Minaret Summit, then down to Devils Postpile National Monument, with access to the Ansel Adams Wilderness.


The area has natural hot springs which are sometimes used after skiing. Other features include lakes, soda springs, and an obsidian dome. Mammoth Lakes is north of the Owens Valley, a scenic area with extensive hiking opportunities. Lake Mary is south of the town and has recreation facilities.


The town is surrounded by mountains: on the west, Mammoth Mountain looms over the town, while to the south, the Sherwin Range dominates the view. This hilly terrain and the high altitude makes the area great for high-altitude athletic training, including among elite long-distance runners, who live and train in the thin air.


The town is surrounded by acres of forest and is bordered by the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness Areas. The eastern entrance of Yosemite National Park is located 32 miles north of town. The town is situated in the southwestern, mountainous part of Mono County, California.



Mammoth Lakes has a dry-summer continental climate (Dsb) with long, very snowy winters, and warm, dry summers.  Snowfall is particularly heavy from December through March, and averages 206 inches per season. On average, there are 21 days of 80 °F (27 °C)+ highs, twenty-one days of highs under 32 °F (0.0 °C) and 4.6 nights of sub-0 °F (−18 °C) lows annually.




The 2020 United States Census reported that Mammoth Lakes has a population of 7,191. The population density was 289.14 inhabitants per square mile (111.64/km2). The racial makeup of Mammoth Lakes was (80.4%) White, (0.9%) African American, (0.3%) Native American, (3.7%) Asian, (0%) Pacific Islander, and (3.7%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were (37.5%).


Mammoth Lakes' economy is primarily tourism-based. For example, Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort is the top ski destination in California. A 13% tax is added to the rental of any lodging facility and campgrounds for stays of less than a month. There are more than 4,599 rental units in Mammoth Lakes and the lodging industry generates around two-thirds of the gross revenue of the Town of Mammoth Lakes. As well as the pull from winter extreme sports, Mammoth Lakes also benefits greatly from tourism in the summer from people who visit to camp, hike and fish.


The Mammoth Lakes real estate market has gone through ups and downs over the past few decades. In 1980, an earthquake with magnitude of 6.1 on the Richter scale sent area property values plummeting on fears of a potential volcanic eruption similar to the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. A significant real estate surplus formed after this, during which Mammoth Lakes had a total of over 1200 properties on the market. The development of the Mammoth Mountain ski area has had a direct effect on housing in more recent years. The tourist market has led to an explosion of property values. This peaked in 2003 when the median property value reached $750,000. 

Another peak occurred in 2006 with the sale of the Mammoth Mountain ski area to Starwood Capital Group.[23] As of February 2010, the median listing price was $460,000. This represents a drop of over 38% from the peak reached in 2006.


Mammoth Lakes is home to Mammoth Brewing Company and Distant Brewing (previously known as Black Doubt Brewing Company.)


Mammoth Lakes receives scheduled passenger airline service seasonally via the Eastern Sierra Regional Airport in Bishop with nonstop regional jet service operated to Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO) and Denver (DEN) on United Express operated by SkyWest Airlines.[32]

Local and intercity bus service is provided by Eastern Sierra Transit Authority. Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System provides summer bus connections to Yosemite.




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