This winter and next winter's Mammoth skier shuttle schedule

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 10:45:32 12/15/16

I had forgotten that the Mammoth Hotel was not going to be open this winter or next winter. I just wandered into the information while checking out the overall winter schedule for 2016/2017. That was triggered by checking out the latest NPS press release on the Snow Lodge opening (today). It mentions the ski shop and the Terrace Grill at Mammoth opening on December 16.

For the curious and anyone planning a winter visit to Mammoth, here's what the plan appears to be. First, the hotel is closed for a planned renovation this winter and next winter, so winter visitors to Mammoth are going to have to find lodging in nearby towns, like Gardiner or Cooke City. Second, with the hotel closed, Xanterra's Transportation Department is not running some of the traditional activities, like the Tower Junction shuttle. There is no mention of the wildlife watching tours of the Northern Range or the snowcoach tours in the interior. The traditional snow coach tours that operate out of Old Faithful appear to be scheduled, including the spur trips to and from Mammoth. Third, and of most interest to locals, the Indian Creek skier shuttle will operate, but not with the robust five trip schedule 7 days a week that we are used to. Instead, the shuttle will only operate on Saturday and Sunday, with only 3 departures. The last one of the day leaves Mammoth at 1:30 p.m., and accomplishes the last pickup of the day at Indian Creek, which means (as stated on the linked web page) anyone that goes up on that shuttle needs to ski back to Mammoth. It is obvious that this service is being provided primarily for the benefit of locals. Having used the shuttle to facilitate skiing back from Indian Creek many times over the years, and having skied back via both off-road options (Sheepeater trail to Bunsen Peak Loop and Sheepeater trail to Snow Pass), I will say that anyone taking the 1:30 p.m. shuttle better be a strong skier, AND be very respectful of snow and weather conditions. More than once, I have experienced conditions that threw a monkey wrench into our plans. In February, in particular, if you get a sunny day with warm temps, there are areas, particularly the last mile of the Sheepeater trail and the first 2 miles of the Snow Pass trail, you can encounter oatmeal consistency snow or worse, post-holing. Given that hardly anyone will be up there skiing those trails during the week, Saturday skiers could easily be breaking trail. Even if you use the road, if there are strong winds, you can encounter whiteout conditions, along with drifting. One other caveat: Cell phone reception is spotty at best once you get south of Golden Gate. Summoning help may not be easy to accomplish.

For locals and visitors staying in lodging outside the park, the one plus is there will likely be less vehicular traffic on the road across the Northern Range, which means less congestion at pullouts and wolf jams.


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