How to Avoid Crowds at Ski Resorts

When you look up at the summit of Mammoth Mountain from the base, it’s hard to imagine crowds ever being a problem. After all, Mammoth is made up of over 150 trails with 3,500 skiable acres that offers something for beginners and professionals alike.

Still, the team here at ASO Mammoth has been riding Mammoth Mountain for years and we can tell you that even our favorite mountain in the world gets crowded sometimes. The truth is that when the snow is good, it doesn’t matter how big or small your mountain is. The crowds will come.

To help your day on the mountain be the best it can be, we’ve put together a list of tips to help you avoid the big crowds at ski resorts. Check it out below!

Arrive Early or Arrive Late

If you want the best snow on the mountain, you’re going to have to beat everyone else to it. For most people that means being the first person on the mountain. If you’re the first person in the lift line, then the only tracks you’ll see will be those of lifties and ski patrollers for a brief but incredible window of time.

If you’re not a morning person or just prefer to work smarter instead of harder though, find a mountain with night skiing. Night skiers don’t see very much untouched snow and not every mountain offers it, but if you take advantage of night skiing then you can get freshly groomed snow and a much smaller group of people to share it with.

Have Your Gear Ready Before You Arrive

The key to avoiding crowds is being the most efficient person on the mountain. Every year people come to Mammoth to ski and snowboard on holiday weekends but lose valuable time setting up, suiting up, or renting and buying gear.

If you have all your gear ready, think about stopping at a gas station outside of town and sliding on your long underwear and ski pants so that once you find a parking spot you can head straight for the mountain. If you’re coming to buy or rent a ski, snowboard, or other winter sports gear in Mammoth before you hit the mountain, have the gear you want and the store that carries it nailed down so that you can find, buy, and ride as quickly as possible.

Lower Your Standards for Lifts and Runs

If you can’t carry out any of the tips above, then the best way to avoid crowds is to simply not go where they are. In most cases, this means riding on lifts and trails closer to the base of the mountain. The runs there may be short and lack challenging features, but when it comes down to it the short lift lines, good snow, and lack of crowds can mean you get to ride or ski more.

Ski in the “Off-season”

If you’re planning out your trip months in advance, seriously consider booking around the edges of the season. Your intuition will tell you to buy tickets for January and February, but the truth is that there can be great snow in December and many mountains, Mammoth included, see storms throughout March and April when there are much fewer people on the mountain.

Ride the Sidecountry

The ideal way to ride the sidecountry, or the snow just outside of a resort’s boundaries, is to use the lifts to get to the top, ride outside where most people don’t go, and then cut back in and do it all over again. However, you must be familiar with the terrain and understand that you’re taking your safety into your own hands. Otherwise, you may find yourself in trouble with no immediate help nearby.

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