Touching down at Mammoth Yosemite Airport—less than an hour after we’d left San Jose—that last seven-hour Sunday slog from Tahoe back to the Bay Area fades away. The pilot tells us to buckle up, folks, we’re coming in for a landing. Already? I’m just getting comfy with my peanuts and in-flight magazine.
As I step out onto the tarmac, surrounded by a 360° kingdom of Swiss Alps–style peaks, it’s official: I’m gobsmacked. One hour and $188 later, hello, good-mood ski weekend.
Until a few years ago, the Eastern Sierra’s Mammoth Mountain has been almost exclusively the winter playground of SoCal-ers who’ve made the six-hour trek by car. Now, flights from the Bay Area mean this eastern front—only 32 miles southeast of Yosemite but as good as unreachable by car in winter—is finally a Tahoe alternative.