Field Notes

Dreaming of Snow: Tales From Two Ikonic Californian Peaks

Concrete Playground
April 03, 2024

For the passionate snowboarder and skier, California is emerging as one of North America's hottest (coldest) destinations. Read on to discover why.


First stop, PalisadesTahoe.

Flying into Reno aka “The Biggest Little City in the World” as it is affectionately known, you would be mistaken to think that gambling on double diamonds is the best fun you can have in Nevada.

Fortunately, it’s also the gateway to PalisadesTahoe – a 1.5 hour drive to 6,000 acres of skiable terrain across two mountains, Palisades and Alpine Meadows.

In 1956, PalisadesTahoe consisted of one chair lift, two rope tows and a single fifty-room lodge. Fast forward 57 years and a hosting job for the 1960 Olympic Winter Games, the location is now home to some 34 lifts, 270+ trails and a truly world-class terrain featuring a new base-to-base gondola connecting two spectacular mountains, the Palisades and Alpine.

Let’s rip in.

Epic views from 9,000 feet

Skiing and Boarding PalisadesTahoe

With run names like Kangaroo, Banana Chute, Boomerang and Gold Coast you will feel right at home on the slopes of PalisadesTahoe (PT).

Get measured up and fitted with all the things in the main village and while you’re at it download the Palisade Tahoe App, or the Ikon App if you are smart enough to have an Ikon Pass. This will track your day on the snow from location, runs, to speed, kilometres covered, and where the hell your mates are. Just make sure you have a full battery and a healthy data roaming plan.

Contemplating the next run. Credit: Andrew Suggit

Palisades has wonderful skiing and boarding for all levels. Trails for days and nights. The village at PT is a quintessential ski village, fresh off the set of any Christmas movie with everything you could possibly need at festively plump prices.

At the top of the mountain on a clear day you can pretty much see Tasmania – and it’s one of the best views of Lake Tahoe you can get. The second best view of the lake is when your guide convinces you that jumping in five degree water at night after ZA’s Fried Chicken Tuesday is a “tradition”, thanks Patrick. Don’t even get me started on Tahoe Tessie.

Photos of inside Everline Resort & Spa Lake Tahoe and ‘Slide Pool Closed’ sign. Image credit: Andrew Suggit

Where to Eat & Drink

The fact that it was selected as an Olympic destination is proof that world-class skiing is ripe at PT. When it comes to lunch, don’t peak early.

Sun Bowl Acai & Poke

The food comes large, so if an afternoon of skiing and boarding instead of napping is on the agenda, try Sun Bowl Acai & Poke in the village, they will keep you honest.


Alternatively, you could just stick to mountain snacks for lunch (anything that can pack into your pockets or backpack) and save the appetite for a Mexican fiesta at Tremigo Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar. The loud and lively joint is located in the heart of the PT Village.

By night you’ll find goggle-tan-sporting crowds enjoying shots and cocktails composed from the 80-strong tequila and mezcal list. From 11am until 9pm, the kitchen delivers authentic Mexican food with heart. Choose from enchiladas, burrito bowls or birria tacos, or specialities like the housemade chile rellenos and blue corn sopas.

Six Peaks Grille

Or you could simply just Après to the snow gods with a sundowner and book Six Peaks Grille at the Everline Resort & Spa for what might be the finest steak you will ever eat 6000 feet above sea level.

Where to Stay

Everline Resort & Spa

Everline Resort & Spa has its own ski-in/ski-out facility, spa facilities, and a private outdoor night and day ice-skating rink. I mean who doesn’t need a private skate rink for an afternoon spin? Not to mention log fires, multiple eating options, a general store and some of the fanciest ski shopping you can find.

Hot tubs, cold pools, steam rooms and saunas… All the trimmings to help recover after a day on the slopes and a yard sale or two.. That or just drown those aches and pains at Sandy’s Pub — the unofficial home to the world’s largest nachos.

I mean if the penultimate ski location and amenities is your flavour, Everline has all the ingredients.

Everline Resort and Spa Lake Tahoe lounge. Image credit: Andrew Suggit

Where winters are long and legendary

Stop two: Mammoth Mountain

2023 marked the year of the most snow ever to fall on the shoulders of Mammoth Mountain (MM). Over 700 inches of the freshest of fresh snow. That’s a depth taller than Matilda from the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games, and what now feels like the not-so-Big Pineapple.

I mean, the place was literally buried in snow, and to really test the resilience of the locals, they skied up to July in 2023.

Where do I even start with Mammoth Mountain… It’s Mammoth by name and nature. With a free gondola that leaves from the town centre to the mountain base, with multiple options for all your needs, Mammoth Lakes is a wonderful place to enjoy both ski life and an accessible community of like-minded frothers.

Photos of historic snow season from 2023. Image credits: Rooftop view by Scott Hannaford, all other images by Andrew Suggit.

3,500 acres of Cali's finest

Skiing and Boarding Mammoth Mountain

3,500 acres of ski-able terrain, 28 lifts and an elevation of 11,059 ft. MM is Mammoth.

The resort, founded in 1953 by Dave McCoy, is truly the heart and soul of the Mammoth community (not to mention a starring location in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) this place is one to behold. Deep pockets of powder, some ‘dawn of time’ landscapes, mental half pipes, unbound fun parks, and on- and off-trail options to fill all your Warren Miller fantasies.

When your thighs are finally burnt to a crisp, have a Skrewball  and hit the Canyon Lodge Sundeck to move whatever muscle memory you may have left to a DJ slinging tunes from a gondola car.

Please Skrewball responsibly! Image credit: Andrew Suggit


And if you are really lucky, see if you can spot Woolly, the most perfect mascot you will see (Pretty sure Woolly has a few stunt doubles floating around).

If you think you need a day off the hill, but still crave a thrill, look no further then Woolly’s Tube Park. I mean, what isn’t fun about hurtling down a hill in an inner tube with friends and strangers?

Where to Eat & Drink

On the mountain, just enjoy anywhere you land but Fowl Language is a good vibe, and the Melt House (when not snowed-in) has the best toasted cheese this side of the front side.

Off mountain you’ve got a heap of options in the village.


Vulcania is an Italian share-style restaurant in the heart of Mammoth Lakes, served by a local grom in a modern setting. This place would feel at home in any Australian city. Run by an acclaimed chef-and-brother duo of Michael Voltaggio (who can boast a Michelin star to his culinary achievements) and Bryan Voltaggio (a James Beard Foundation Award finalist), you know you’re in safe hands.

The al fresco dining here is also a blast with fire pits and DJs, and the wine list of mainly American drops is solid.

The Clocktower Cellar

Whisky is the order of the hour at the Clocktower Cellar — voted as one of the best ski bars in the USA. The whiskey lineup includes 160 choices from across the globe. Or you could just settle for a beer (they’ve got 26 options on tap alone) and have some classic pub fare while you’re at it. Just pack your quarters, ID and your foosball A-game.

The long bar at Clocktower Cellar. Image credit: Scott Hannaford


Petras is an intimate venue for a wonderful winter dining experience… Even when still dressed head to toe in ski gear. Located inside a beautiful alpine lodge, the vibe is cosy and charming with a stand-out wine program (over 250 drops available by the bottle). The food is a more up-market bistro affair.

Old New York Deli

Get your day started with a great coffee that isn’t Starbucks and order a bagel from the mammoth menu at Old New York Deli. Heck, why not grab yourself a pocket bagel for a mid-run snack. You’ll be patting yourself on the back in a couple of hours.


Gomez is home to the Mammoth Margarita, great food, and over 900 Tequilas. It’s your call.

Mammoth Brewery

Mammoth Brewery has 14 beers on tap, multiple big screens and long communal bench seating. Is this high-altitude heaven?

Main section image: The dining room at Petra’s. Credit: Scott Hannaford.

Where to Stay

Hillside Highlands Townhomes

Gather your family, mates, significant others and book yourself a townhome. These three-storey luxury homes include an internal lift (I mean, who needs stairs after a day on the slopes?), a hot tub, huge kitchen, mammoth ceilings, open fire and a laundry, all within a minute walk from the centre of town.

It’s already a luxury option however, if you’re feeling particularly boujie, book yourself a Ski Butler. Yes, a SKI BUTLER. Door to door service to take any hassle out of rental gear. I mean this service is a pure joy and worth its weight in gold.

Alpine-chic decor for the lounge area of this Hillside Highland townhome. Image credit: Scott Hannaford.


If you are considering getting snowbound in the Northern Hemisphere this summer, the Californian slopes don’t disappoint. From the terrain to the scenery to the thriving après culture, if you’ve never considered these resorts for your getaway it’s time to add them on the list.


Words and select photography by Andrew Suggit. Andrew travelled as a guest of Mammoth Mountain and PalisadesTahoe and Ikon Pass. 

With 59 iconic destinations worldwide (including Thredbo, Mount Buller and various New Zealand resorts), Ikon Pass is your ticket to shred year round. Discover more at the website.

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