Some history about the Sierra Nevada.
About 200 million years ago the Pacific Plateau slided under the North American Plateau. Because of the enormous preasure at the earth's crust the sea-bottom was pushed upwards. The land which appeared out of the ocean is California as we know it today. Especially the Sierra Nevada mountains carries the signs of this enormous disruption.
This fase was followed by centuries which scaled off the surface. The outside layers of the granite monolites broke and seperated itselfs. This created bare and round tops which are so characteristic for the Sierra Nevada.
The last important geological fase was about 30,000 years ago. The temperature at the earth is rising and this caused melting glacier-water. This water worn off the softer parts of the rocks and formed some mountain-peaks and mountain lakes.
Where to buy tickets for Mammoth
You can buy your lift passes at one of the 3 lodges that are available - Eagle, Canyon, and the Main Lodge. Eagle is the smallest one and probably the least crowded. But, because it is small, you don't get all the services you would at the other two lodges. Canyon and the Main Lodge both have pretty much everything you need from rentals to lessons. All 3 locations have food courts and lots o' booze!
Check out the Hot Springs!
Off of the main highway that leads into Mammoth proper, there is a little side road by the Fish Hatchery. This little side road takes you to a hidden valley where a hot spring has evolved over the years. There are patches of really hot water and then, there are patches of really cold water that streams down from the Sierra Nevadas. The hot springs come from the hot magma underneather Mammoth Mountain. Mammoth is actually a volcanic mountain that is still somewhat active. There are no eruptions, but the volcanic activity is what creates this hot magma underground. Be careful though, because there are certain areas where the water will scorch you to death. There are signs for the areas that are too hot.
Bringing that Alpine feel to Mammoth
The Austria Hof restaurant and bar on the ground level of the Austria Hof Hotel has been around since I can remember. My aunt used to stay there 25 or so years ago and we would join her for a drink in the bar. The place is a little worn now, but that adds to the ambiance. I usually stay at the hotel a couple times a year and eat there regularly. A definite Austrian feel. Weiner Schnitzel, Sauerbraten, wild mushroom and rabbit struedel. But that is not all. One of the few places in Mammoth you can get duck. plus other specialities such as Osso Bucco and a mixed game platter. The schnitzels are very good.
Silver Lake is arguably the most beautiful lake on the June Lakes Loop. I'm not too sure whether it is a natural lake or a reservoir, though I do know that it is drained by Rush Creek, which flows into Grant Lake. It lies in a desert-like climate at the foot of giant Carson Peak. There are two pulloffs for the lake, one which has a quite mediocre view, and another with an amazing one. The pulloff and parking lot at the southwestern side of the lake has no good views and serves primarily as a fishing spot; the pulloff at the north end of the lake has a great view of the lake and Carson Peak. You'll sometimes find some good reflections on the lake's surface.