Mammoth Lakes, November 2016

In this post: what I packed/wore, photos of snowy Mammoth Lakes, photos of Owens Valley, photos and reviews of The Stove and Black Velvet Coffee (click photos to enlarge)

Believe it or not, I've lived in California all my life and this was my first ever trip to Mammoth Lakes. My family wasn't very big on trips to the mountain and, when we did go, Big Bear was the closer and more convenient destination. I must say, Big Bear is lovely but Mammoth has spoiled me.

I love cold weather for everything but the feeling of being cold. Is that weird? Does anyone out there relate? I love layering with chunky sweaters and scarves. I love comfy boots and warm coats. I love getting hot cocoa and snuggling under piles of warm blankets or in front of the fire. But I don't love the feeling of freezing my butt off. I didn't quite know what to bring, so I brought too much and would pack differently next time. My inexperience with snowy weather coupled with my chronic need to be over-prepared naturally caused me to over-pack. This is what I brought for a 3-night stay.

Pictured items as follows. If you would like me to do a separate review of these items, send us a message! I'd be more than happy to take more detailed photos and answer questions about them.

(Not pictured, but totally necessary for keeping warm! I wore them every day under my clothes.)

On with the trip! The drive to Mammoth from Orange County is very different than the one to Big Bear. You're basically on the highway the whole time, as opposed to the hour's worth of narrow and winding roads up the mountain to Big Bear. We drove through charming small towns and beautiful desert.

We passed through an area that had a bunch of Joshua trees, which I'd never seen up close before. The skies were so blue with scattered fluffy clouds, the landscape punctuated by spiky Joshua trees and their funny little shapes. For lunch, we stopped at a small mining town called Randsburg. I honestly had no idea towns like this still existed. It was like a scene out of an old Western movie. After we explored the town for a bit, we drove to a deserted area and hunted around in a wash for neat-looking rocks (we like to decorate our home with rocks from our adventures). Once we were satisfied with the spoils of our rock hunt, we drove around through the hills looking for old mines. It required some off-roading, so I recommend going in a 4-wheel drive vehicle for anyone that wants to have a similar adventure. We drove on to Fossil Falls next, passing a distant storm and catching a rainbow on the way. I left my phone in the truck and didn't realize it until we were halfway on the trek to the Falls, so I didn't get any photos. I'm super bummed because it was really quite incredible! Fossil Falls is a waterfall site that dried up thousands of years ago. The Sierra Nevadas had glaciers in the last Ice Age, and rivers formed as they melted. These rivers flowed and pooled into lakes in the Owens Valley and Owens River, and the river flows got disrupted and diverted by volcanic activity. One of the rivers diverted over a lava flow, shaping and flowing the lava rocks into interesting shapes. Today, the Fossil Falls area is replete with lava rocks of all sizes, and the actual falls site is like a giant climbing playground. I highly recommend a visit if you're planning a trip to Mammoth. I would try to get there well before sunset, though. We had to cut our explorations short because it was getting darker and colder by the minute and we wanted to get to Mammoth at a decent hour.

Once we got to Mammoth, we stayed at Juniper Springs Resort and made use of the lovely hot tubs. On our first morning, my boyfriend Shaun went snowboarding and I stayed in. I ate a carb-filled breakfast from the resort cafe, and tried to enjoy my coffee with a view on the balcony, but it got too cold. I ended up relaxing inside most of the morning, curled up with a book in front of the fire.

After Shaun came back from snowboarding, he took me around the mountains and down into Owen's Valley to explore and try to find some hot springs. The lake was only partly frozen, and so so beautiful! I love the reflection of the trees in the water. Owen's Valley had a gorgeous palette of colors: various shades of pale greens and yellows, with the setting sun casting a pinkish purple glow. We even caught a few deer bounding around in the grass. The sun started setting earlier than we expected and we didn't want to get lost in the dark. So we headed back to the resort and decided to save the hot springs for our next visit. We headed back to town with a mean craving for ramen, but unfortunately the ramen restaurant closed early that night. So we ended up at the cute main square area for dinner and drinks, then couldn't resist stopping by Ben & Jerry's ice cream (we can never say no to ice cream, even when it's freezing cold) before heading back to the resort.

The next morning we ate an early breakfast at The Stove. It has a comfy country vibe, with typical American diner fare and very reasonable pricing. I went for a healthier option that morning since I had a bunch of carb-y pastries the day before. My meal of berries, granola, and cottage cheese was quite good. The granola was crunchy and tasty (isn't it a bummer when your granola is stale and tastes like cardboard?). I intended to make healthier choices, but I am a dessert fiend (yes, even after breakfast) so I couldn't resist ordering a slice of apple pie. It was unfortunately cold, but had good flavor. Overall, we enjoyed our food and I'd come back again.

Shaun went snowboarding after breakfast and I stayed at the resort to get some work done. When he returned, we made it to happy hour at a local bar, then stopped by a highly rated coffee shop I found on Yelp called Black Velvet Coffee. This place is definitely a gem, and I'd love to spend more time there next time we go back. The decor is sort of minimal rustic-industrial, with white walls and exposed black wooden beams. There's a lounge upstairs that serves wine and beer. They successfully created a space for both hanging out with friends and getting work done. I tried a latte and a hazelnut waffle pastry...yum! Though we loved this place, we called it an early night because we had a long drive home ahead of us the next day.

I can't wait to go back this spring, especially after the record amounts of snowfall they've been getting up there this winter. Once the snow melts I'm sure there will be so much green, and I bet Rainbow Falls will be extra beautiful. For those of you pondering a trip, I highly recommend it while it's still snowy. For those who have been, I welcome suggestions for eats/treats/etc. for my next visit in the spring! Send us a message here, or tag us with #delagoes to share your favorite Mammoth spots!


Thanks for sharing my Mammoth adventure with me, dear reader. Until next time...keep adventuring!

Peace and love to you.