Located in an awkward spot in the middle of California, Mammoth is the home mountain of SoCal skiers and boarders willing to make the five-hour commute. It's worth the effort. As the name implies, Mammoth Mountain's numbers are off the charts: With a summit elevation of 11,000 feet, it's the highest ski area in the state and one of the few in the country to get over 400 inches of snow per year (and, somehow, still gets 300 days of sunshine). Largely treeless, this hulk of a mountain has 3,500 acres of skiable terrain and 28 lifts, including three gondolas. Mammoth truly has a bit of everything: world-class groomers, loose glades, tight tree runs, aggressive steeps, and 11 terrain parks. Lift tickets are $109, or as low as $89 if you buy early.
Where to stay: Mammoth Mountain has a Euro-style village with everything you need for a long stay, including the Westin Monache Resort, a glitzy spot with ski valets that's within walking distance of the Village Gondola.
Insider tip: Mammoth is only an hour drive from Yosemite National Park, which is as beautiful blanketed in snow as it is in summer, and has some of the best cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the world.