The Mammoth Lakes region is a unique geologic area, filled with endless and unique mountain features and visuals.
In an age of overused adjectives, it truly is spectacular. This notch of the High Sierra is located in southern Mono County of eastern California. “Mono” is an Indian word for “beautiful.” The County’s land mass is ~95% government owned/controlled. The area includes the pristine high altitude backcountry of the Sierra Nevada including the John Muir and Ansel Adams Wilderness Areas, the Inyo National Forest, and the high desert environment of the western edge of the Great Basin. This was home to the migratory Indians of the centuries before.
The primary economic engine of the region is recreation and tourism. The world class ski area and associated amenities at Mammoth Mountain are the substantial portion of draw and revenue in winter. In summer, the visitors are widely dispersed in the the local backcountry, camping in the multitude of surrounding campgrounds, or enjoying variety of resort accommodations mainly in Mammoth Lakes. Summer recreation includes hiking, climbing, fishing, biking, etc. There are a wide variety of special events promoted throughout the year to draw additional visitors. The area is also the eastern access to adjacent Yosemite National Park.
There is increasing pressure to expand the development of the geothermal resources of the area, namely the production of electricity. But the area remains highly protected by the scarcity of privately owned land, the powerful environmental groups like the Sierra Club, and the water resources interests of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The areas outside of the privately owned communities remain open for public access creating the “big playground.”
The three significant communities with private land ownership are Mammoth Lakes, June Lake and Crowley Lake. Mammoth Lakes is the only incorporated “Town.”
The Towns & Communities
Mammoth Lakes, CA
The Town of Mammoth Lakes was incorporated in 1984. It’s the largest town Mono County with a population of about 8,000 residents. Mono County is home to about 12,000 residents.
Mammoth Lakes is a modern mountain resort community with schools, a hospital, a thriving business community, etc. The town is about four square miles and sits at the base of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. It has more than 2,000 residential homes/lots and more than 8,000 condominiums.
It has a variety of business and commercial areas and shopping, two golf courses, an extensive multi-use path trail system, and a gentle creek that flows through town.
June Lake, CA
June Mountain Ski Area is a smaller resort than Mammoth Mountain, but it’s still popular, especially among locals. This small town has modest but ever-growing amenities, including a brewery, a food truck, a juice bar and a coffee shop. There are a handful of small condo developments and residential subdivisions both old and new. There are funky old cabins and massive luxury mansions.
June Lake is a quaint alpine community sometimes called “the Switzerland of California.” This private land mass is nestled in stands of pines and firs and surrounded by crystal blue lakes and lush meadows.
Crowley Lake, CA
The community of Crowley Lake is adjacent to the same-named renowned fishing lake. While it could be considered a “bedroom community” for Mammoth Lakes, it is increasingly popular with second homeowners. Due to its lower elevation, “summer lasts a month longer and starts a month earlier” than Mammoth.
The area receives approx. 25% of the snow accumulation of Mammoth. There are a couple of condominium projects but the area is mostly residential. There are some historic motels and a small commercial center and a community center with adjacent public amenities. The more recent subdivisions feature half-acre lots that are perfect for large homes with over-sized garages and room for play.