Mammoth to Carmel
I am from the UK.
My family are planning to be in LA in March/April.
We want to ski and also to visit relatives in Carmel. Can we get from Mammoth to carmel are this time of year without going all the way round to SFO?
Crossing the Sierra
If you use a heliocopter or airplane all sorts of direct routes are possible. However, most of the auto passes over the Sierras are still closed.
None of the options require a route through San Francisco. From Mammoth Lakes you can either go North on US-395 and cross the mountains via US-50 or Interstate 80. Both US-50 and I-80 meet in the Sacramento area so proceed west on I-80 to I-880 and cruise down the East Bay until you reach San Jose and then can pick up CA-17 for the ride into Santa Cruz and then CA-1 down to Carmel.
Alternatively, you can proceed south on US-395 to CA-14 junction and follow CA-14 to the town of Mojave where you can pick up CA-58 and follow it to Bakersfield and then over the Stockdale Highway ("...Stockdale Highway is a much faster trip than Hwy 58 (aka Rosedale Highway) from Bakersfield to I-5. The road is 4-6 lanes through bakersfield, and then a lightly traveled 2 lane rural highway out to the 5. It is slightly shorter than 58, but the biggest advantage is the traffic..."
Once on Interstate 5 proceed north to Lost hills and then west on CA-46 to Paso Robles where you will join US-101 north to Salinas and then west on CA-68 to Monterey and then south on CA-1 to Carmel.
For a real winter driving adventure, there is a chance that one of the other passes will be open -- check highways 108 over Sonora Pass, 89 over Monitor Pass, 88 over Carson Pass.
Plus these roads also go past wonderful skiing areas...
Skiing in California
Where is the best place to ski in California.
We are starting in LA and have to take trip to Carmel at some stage as we have relatives there. Then back to LA for the flight home. We have three weeks.
Id it worth driving to Mammoth? or is there somewhere closer to LA that would provide enough skiing for 5 days and have facilities for kids 4 and 6.
Starting in LA
Mammoth Lakes is a good choice because of the topography -- snow tends to accumulate there longer. Depending when you are going to be in LA -- Wrightwood (Mountain High Resort) is only about 90 minutes from LA and offers plenty of routes for youngsters. Personally, when the snow is good I like Waterman and Kratka Ridge (both local areas within an hour of Pasadena). Big Bear Lake and environs is also a destination popular with LA skiers.
But if you went to Mammoth -- skied a day or two you could continue north on US-395 and go to Lake Tahoe-- gorgeous! (on your way to Carmel) and ski at either Heavenly, Squaw or my favorite for lake views and locals feel -- Homewood.
Thanks for all your advice.
I think we may do the Mammoth/Tohoe thing. Its just such a big drive for us Brits - but hey I used to live in Australia and its 950 miles from Sydney to Melbourne.
Do we need a 4wd for all this mountain driving. In Europe all the service stations are geared up to fit chains if we need them. Is it the same there?
4-WD not necessary
No, 4-WD is not necessary -- it would be smart to carry tire chains in case the Sierras receive a late spring snowstorm. While service stations do have that service -- it is often rather expensive -- so you might consider purchasing.