Looking at your calendar now and mentally mapping out those camping weekends you’re so looking forward to?
Yes, we feel you. There’s nothing like heading out to the Sierra Nevada foothills to enjoy a few days in the great outdoors, camping out at Mammoth Lakes.
So when is the best time to visit Mammoth Lakes?
The quick answer is: it’s likely best to visit Mammoth Lakes in the Fall, as there are fewer visitors, and flights are cheaper than usual. The months of September, October, and November are considered an off-season for Mammoth Lakes.
However, it all really depends on what it is exactly you’re looking for in terms of activities in and around Mammoth Lakes.
True, Mammoth Lakes is world-renowned as a major skiing destination, but it has a lot of other outdoor activities to offer all year-round.
Best Time to Visit Mammoth Lakes According to Season
With a good number and variety of camping grounds, outdoor activities, and annual events, Mammoth Lakes is easily one of the most popular tourist destinations in Central California.
Summers in Mammoth Lakes are warm and dry, while winters have heavy snowfall. At least 1.5 million visitors come by during the summer, while winter months see just a bit less than that (upwards of 1.3 million visitors)– making those Mammoth Lakes’ two busiest seasons.
From March heading towards May, the temperature gradually starts warming up, and we see the sub-zero weather climb to about 32°F (0°C). Still cold, but you do get a lot more of clear, sunny days around this time.
Campers will notice some of the snow already melting, particularly by April or so. But there are still areas where you can go skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing. In fact, The Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board has started to brand its spring season as “Swinter”— a magical union of summer and winter.
Probably what makes summer the most popular season at Mammoth Lakes is the breathtaking scenery and the wealth of outdoor activities that can be done with family and friends.
From June to August, temperatures at Mammoth Lakes would average 75°F to 80°F (23.8°C to 26.7°C)for a high and would seldom dip below 40°F (4.44°C) for a low.
Summertime is the peak season for Mammoth Lakes. The pleasant weather, stunning views, and opportunities for outdoor recreation attract all sorts of visitors.
From families camping out with the kids for a few nights, to your more casual folk out to do some fishing, kayaking, or hiking, to the more adventurous types who would go extreme rock climbing or cross-country biking– there’s plenty for everybody at Mammoth Lakes.
From September to November, the mercury starts dropping with winter just around the corner. The average daytime high temperatures in September and October range between 60°F and 70°F (15.5°C to 21.1°C), while nighttime lows hover around the freezing mark (30 to 35°F or -1°C to 1.67°C).
Even during the off-season, a lot of campers and tourists still come by to visit Mammoth Lakes. The stunning scenery of Autumn and the fall foliage are on full display. And in addition to all the usual outdoor activities, you also have an impressive lineup of festivals, concerts, and other sports events.
The Mammoth Gran Fondo, Outside on the Eastside, June Lake Jam Fest, and Oktoberfest are just some of the more popular outdoor events happening in the fall.
Mammoth Lakes truly shines in the winter with lots of opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, sledding, skating, and snowball fights.
Snowfall is particularly heavy from December to February, averaging about 206 inches (5.23 m) of snow. On average, there are 21 days of 80°F (27°C)+ highs and twenty-one days of highs under 32°F (0.0 °C) annually. Temperatures can drop as low as -9°C (15.8°F) so don’t forget to bring warm winter clothing.
When Not To Visit Mammoth Lakes
If you’re not so hot about the peak-season crowds, the worst time to visit Mammoth Lakes is in either summer or winter, especially on long holiday weekends. Even on regular weekends, it is not uncommon to see cars congesting many of the roads in and around town or visitors testing the limits of various facilities and amenities.
You can even expect nearby Bishop and Mono Lake, both just a few miles north of Mammoth Lakes, to be similarly packed. Bishop is also known as a major skiing, fishing, and climbing center, while Mono Lake is a vital habitat for millions of migratory and nesting birds.
Why Visit Mammoth Lakes?
With more than 100 lakes and streams in its immediate vicinity, Mammoth Lakes is a popular resort town. Skiing is the clear favorite during wintertime and in the summer, even more come visit for activities such as fly-fishing, climbing, hiking, kayaking, and biking, among others.
While the crowds of visitors tend to thin out by autumn, the best time to visit Mammoth Lakes depends mainly on what you prefer to do.
For winter activities (like skiing, for example), November through April would be your best bet. If you’d prefer to watch wildlife, do some golfing, or perhaps even fishing or cross-country biking, then you may want to come by during the summer or fall instead.
But even in the fall, Mammoth Lakes has lots to offer campers and adventure-seekers. You’ll find no shortage of outdoor events, nor will you find outdoor activities to be lacking. The weather is generally pleasant, you get the lovely fall colors all around, and if you’re lucky, maybe even a campsite all to yourself.