16. Mammoth, California
Why go: California isn’t the first place that springs to mind when you think of ski destinations, but Mammoth Lakes—a nearly six-hour drive east of San Francisco or north of Las Vegas in the Sierra Nevada mountain range—sits at 7,880 feet above sea level, making Mammoth Mountain the highest chairlift-accessible ski resort in California. And it gets an average snowfall of 400 inches a season, significantly more than the other mountains in the Eastern Sierras. It has more than 300 days of sunshine, which means you can shred under bluebird skies all the way into June. After a day on the slopes, make time for a soak in one of the countless natural hot springs bubbling up in the valley.
Where to stay: It doesn’t get more convenient than The Village Lodge at Mammoth, which has prime real estate in the mountain’s idyllic pedestrian village, right near the free gondola connecting skiers to Canyon Lodge (there’s also a free shuttle that takes you anywhere in town within a five-mile radius). Skiers in town for Olympic qualifying competitions have been known to stay here.
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