What You Need for Driving Through Winter Storms

When the snow falls by the foot on Mammoth Mountain, all of California packs up to ski and snowboard here. Driving through winter storms is dangerous though, so there are a few key items you need to pack in your car before you hit the road.

Check out our guide to what you need to drive through winter storms, then visit the ASO Mammoth shop for the best ski and snowboard rentals in Mammoth Lakes!

Important Note:

If you’re using a GPS on your drive to Mammoth Lakes and there are road closures, then you may find yourself getting conflicting messages. Your GPS may tell you a road is open, while signs and CalTrans tell you it is closed.

If your GPS tells you to take a road that local authorities say is closed, do not take it. The local officials maintaining the roads know their conditions better than the GPS you’re using. If you get stuck then you will be in a dangerous situation. Plus, the authorities will need to spend resources getting you out that could otherwise be used clearing roads.

Food and Water 

If you’re coming to Mammoth Mountain after a storm, you should already have food in water in your car so that you do not contribute to the overwhelming number of people shopping at local stores after the storm.

However, easily accessible food and water in your car can also be incredibly important if you get stuck in the snow or must wait for roads to clear. Have water and non-frozen foods ready in case you get stuck.


If you’re coming to ski and snowboard then you’ll have warm clothes in your car. Blankets will be much more comfortable for staying warm in a car though, and if you can stay warm without running your car you’ll prolong your gas (or battery) mileage.

Snow Chains

Anytime you’re driving through the mountains during winter, you should have snow chains in your car. No matter how good your tires are, you may need snow chains to get to your destination safely. CalTrans has specific requirements for when you need snow chains, but do yourself a favor and always have a set that you know how to install.


Of course a shovel will be helpful to dig your car out of snow if you get stuck. However, another important reason you’ll want a shovel is that running your car in deeps snow risks suffocation.

When there is heavy snowfall, cars are often buried under layers of snow. If you’re stuck in your car and running it, or even just sleeping as the snow piles on your car, the exhaust from your engine and breathing can build up and suffocate you.

A shovel is key to digging out your car as well as keeping snow from blocking your exhaust pipe. That’s why you should always carry a shovel in your car while driving through the mountains in winter!