When your neighbor is “Mammoth” in both literal name and size, you’re likely to be overshadowed. Located a 30-minute drive north of California’s Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain offers a different atmosphere than its much better-known companion. June is actually operated by Mammoth’s owners. Mammoth’s owner Dave McCoy bought June Mountain in 1986.
June’s 500 skiable acres may not match up to Mammoth’s 3,500 acres of terrain for a full week of skiing, but June’s charm makes the 50-year-old ski area worth a side day-trip.The more sheltered lifts at June also often make the mountain an option on windy storm days when much of Mammoth may be closed.
A bluebird day, however, does allow June to show off its scenic views that rival or even exceed its bigger neighbor. No matter the weather conditions, the relaxed, nearly private atmosphere is June’s biggest asset. Especially on weekdays, a liftline would be almost comically impossible, because even seeing other skiers on the same trail is a rarity.
June has a formidable vertical rise of 2,580 feet, but the layout is divided into two vertical sections. One old double-chair climbs slowly out of the parking lot up a steep, mostly double-black face to the June Meadows Chalet that serves as the de facto base for the ski area. Intermediate skiers can take a blue catwalk back down and beginners can download the lift at the end of the day.
From the June Meadows Chalet, skiers can either head up toward the Rainbow Summit or the June Mountain Summit. The Rainbow side is perfect for intermediates and families. The green Silverado run, in particular, can give young beginners a feeling of accomplishment as it comes all the way down from the Rainbow Summit. Such sustained green runs that are not catwalks are rather rare at ski areas and a good find for any novices.
The June Mountain Summit starts with a steep pitch at the the top, then mellows for a stretch back to the lift. The double-black chutes at the top do not quite match Mammoth’s expert terrain in terms of steepness– and certainly not in length– but the chutes and the aforementioned double-black face runs can keep advanced skiers happy for the day.
June Mountain’s daily lift tickets for the 2010-11 season are $69 for adults, $52 for youth (ages 13-18), and $35 for kids (ages 7-12) and seniors. Kids 6 and under can ski for free. By comparison, a daily adult lift ticket at Mammoth costs $92.
(Photos courtesy of Eric Wagnon)
Disclaimer: Travel accomodations were provided during visit to June Mountain.