Mammoth does get a lot of snow due to the higher elevations. In fact, for the months from November to February, the average snowfall exceeds 200 inches. The base depth is also significant. This is good for skiing and snowboarding, but it can be a bit challenging if you have plans to drive in the Mammoth area, which brings us to the topic of whether or not you need snow chains. The friendly folks at ASO Mammoth, your one-stop shop for everything from ski boots to Mammoth snowboard rental, explain what you need to know before you set off on a road trip to Mammoth.
Chains Required Locally
According to the official Mammoth Lakes website, snow chains are required on all vehicles. The only exception is vehicles with all-wheel drive. However, these vehicles must have snow-tread tires on all wheels. If you’ll be coming to Mammoth from other areas where snowfall isn’t really an issue, make sure to either have snow chains installed before you arrive or locally when you get here. Be aware that snow chain installers aren’t allowed to rent or sell snow chains. Therefore, you’ll need to purchase your chains elsewhere and have them installed by an authorized installer.
Chain Requirements for the Mammoth Area
All vehicles except four-wheel drive cars need to have R1 chains or traction devices. R2 chains are also required, with the four-wheel drive exception applying again. All vehicles, including four-wheel drive vehicles, must have R3 chains or traction devices.
Paying Attention to Highway/Road Signs
If you spot a highway or road sign in the Mammoth area that says chains are required, you’ll need to pull over and put your chains on or stop by a local auto shop. If you fail to do this, you could be cited by the local police. You could also be fined for not having snow chains on when it’s required.
Be aware that the Mammoth areas where snow chains are required can change based on weather conditions. Typically, you’ll have about a mile or so after you see a “chains required” sign to put your chains on. On a related note, wait until you pull completely off to the right of the road in a safe area to put your chains on rather than just stopping alongside the road at any given point, which could be dangerous.
There will also be signs that indicate when a chain control area officially ends. At this point, you can take your snow chains off if you prefer to do so. Again, wait until you can safely pull off to the side of the road to take your chains off.
Being Mindful of the Speed Limit with Chains
If you’re in a situation where snow chains are required in the Mammoth area, the speed limit is either 25 or 30 miles per hour. The limit that applies depends on the road and the area of town you’re in. Signs will be posted to let you know what applies to the road you’re driving on locally.
When you’re visiting Mammoth in winter, make sure you plan ahead so your trip goes as smoothly as possible. Whether they need hiking equipment, snowboard repair, or high-quality ski rental, Mammoth visitors can find everything they need at ASO Mammoth. Drop by our store on your way to the mountain or give us a call at 760-965-3444.