We hate to admit it, but until the 2018 season, we’d never visited June Mountain. Being the “little brother” resort, it’s easy to get overshadowed by the bigger and snowier sibling. Like many a visitor before us, why would we want to leave Mammoth Mountain’s amazing terrain and drive 30 minutes to June? Now that we’ve visited this special place, we’ve realized that EVERYONE should make a point to visit! Here’s 6 reasons that we love June Lake skiing.
Uncrowded Slopes Even On The Busiest Days
The first and most important factor to us is even on the busiest days, June Mountain maybe has 1,800 visitors at the MOST. With 1,500+ acres, that’s almost as empty as resorts like Whitefish, MT. We’re not talking just short lift lines. We are talking about actual powder that can be had DAYS after a storm.
The Switzerland Of California
Another major check box marked in a HUGE way is the scenery. As soon as you make that turn onto the June Lake Loop, you’re greeted to what might be some of the most majestic views in the United States. The steep horseshoe shaped canyon will remind you more of Telluride or even the Alps in Europe than California. And as soon as you’re whisked up to the higher elevations via a chairlift, the landscape becomes even more spectacular. These views make even a quick trip worth it.
Speaking of views, we need to highlight the June Meadows Chalet. As the website crows on about this, it’s where “all trails to lead to one place.” Situated at mid-mountain, a majority of the easier terrain meanders its way down to here. Beginners and challenged intermediates then usually take the J1 lift down to the base at the end of the day. Besides all the services such as rentals and lessons, it’s also home to the Antler Bar and Cafe. If you want to truly absorb the scenery, saddle up with a Hot Toddy or Hot Cocoa at the bar here. Words or pictures don’t do it justice.
On the surface, June Mountain ski area is a family resort. There’s A LOT of low angle corduroy to learn on that’s reminiscent of classic Colorado skiing. June Mountain is divided onto two peaks – Rainbow Mountain and June Mountain itself. Rainbow is served by J4 & J6 and is a perfect playground for beginners. For those looking for some serious big boy steeps, it’s all about the main face off of J1 chair. Don’t worry if there’s a lift-line though. Most folks are actually trying to get to the higher terrain which is MUCH flatter.
Easy Backcountry Access
Big caveat first… if you do go backcountry, NEVER forget to bring an avalanche beacon, probe and shovel, a solid touring plan, and a great backcountry partner(s). Just because you can access it via a lift doesn’t mean its safe. With that said, those spectacular peaks surrounding June Mountain can be accessed easily with a little bit of work. The Eastern Sierra are no joke so we recommend picking up a copy of Nate Greenburg’s Backcountry Skiing California’s Eastern Sierra to help with route finding.
Book A Tour
Better yet, if it’s your 1st time heading out beyond ski resort boundaries, book a tour with Sierra Mountain Guides. Since 1997, they’ve been spearheading tours all across the world but call the Eastern Sierra their backyard. They exclusively partner with June Mountain to offer backcountry skiing from their own on-mountain Backcountry Ski Center using the lifts of the resort. Along with the guides, they provide all the necessary avalanche equipment (beacon, shovel, and probe) required to safely navigate the backcountry. Also, if you need a lift ticket discount, ones are available for purchase too.
Awesome Ski Town
There are a lot of ski towns that are built solely around a resort. Places like Whistler or Vail come to mind. They feel more like Disney World than a real town. June Lake isn’t one of those. It may not be a ski-in/ski-out village, but it’s a place where you can park your car for the night, grab a beer from June Lake Brewing, and walk over to The Lift for some amazing dinner. And if you have enough energy after a full day of fun, mosey on over to the T-Bar Social Club. Located downstairs in the historic Sierra Inn Building, this club features a host of big names. How? Well, June Lake is a little over 5 hours away from the entertainment capital of the world – Los Angeles.
While we love Lake Tahoe, there are certain times of year that it just gets a bit too hectic for us. You just need to escape the crowds and explore another mountain. While most of our options to avoid the masses are places such as Nelson, McCall, or even Whitefish, they are a bit too far for a quick trip. We can’t say how excited we are to have found June Mountain. So, the next time you’re looking for a place that’s chill, has amazing cuisine, and is all about the skiing, consider the town of June Lake and shred the cozy resort of June Mountain. You won’t be disappointed.