A white Christmas is a definite possibility in the Eastern Sierras' June Lake, elevation 7,621.
Even with the unexpected winter closure of June Mountain*, skiers and snowboarders are finding June Lake village to be a welcome getaway – to get away from the crowds of nearby Mammoth.
While Mammoth's skiing is what attracts SoCal folks to drive up Highway 395 for six hours to get there, the calmness of June Lake relaxes after a heavy day on the slopes. The village is only 20 minute north of the hustle and bustle of Mammoth Mountain, but locals say it's worlds apart.
When we visited a few weeks ago, we met several ski families who had come over the hill to June Lake for the first time. “It’s so quiet here,” said one dad, checking out June Lake accommodations for their planned New Year's week return. “We’re definitely going to stay here.”
Local business owners in the village of 700 scrambled to find ways to stay open under the devastating closure of June’s own ski area. Mono County is working with local merchants to provide a unified commitment to the winter visitor. In the works are shuttle buses to Mammoth and discount lift tickets and lodging.
The iconic Tiger Bar is always open; so is the down-canyon Carson Peak Inn. The Sierra Inn is opening on weekends. For lodging, the Heidelberg Inn welcomed us with open arms. Several snowboarders heading into Mammoth avoided the lines for rentals by hitting June Lake’s Ernie’s Tackle and Ski Shop first.
*June Mountain will reopen for the 2013–14 ski season, according to its website.