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Driving from LA to Mammoth Lake in Early December

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Penang Island...
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Driving from LA to Mammoth Lake in Early December

Hi

Before i start my question, i am from Malaysia and i never drive in Winter or during snow.

This is my first visit to Mammoth Lake and driving in winter. We plan to drive from LA and Stay in Bishop then next day drive to Mammoth Mountain and enjoy the snow. Do you think that is a good idea? any driving tips? i read some forum and found out tire chain are require during snow. What would be the road condition in early December from LA to Mammoth, do we need the chain?

Thanks

Temecula, CA
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1. Re: Driving from LA to Mammoth Lake in Early December

You'll need to carry chains and be able to install them if required by the highway patrol.

Mammoth has already had some snow. Its hard to tell what the weather will be in early December. We would only be able to speak in very generalized terms, citing statistics, which is not going to be of much help.

Essentially, the main roads are cleared after a storm, but if a storm is in progress during your travel, our local highway patrol will require that you have chains on hand. In a major storm, in order to get past the check point and continue on your trip, you'll have to install them if the highway patrol mandates them or wait out the storm.

If you are staying in Bishop, before you head up to Mammoth, make sure the weather will hold for your trip up before you check-out of your Bishop hotel otherwise, you'll could wind up waiting out the storm in your car which can be very dangerous. Its about a 45 minute climb up the mountain from Bishop to Mammoth. Also, if you plan on returning to Bishop after a day in Mammoth, make sure the weather will hold for the trip back to Bishop.

I'm assuming that you will be renting a car. If this is the case, check with your car rental company regarding their policy of using chains.

Also, since you are not familiar with driving in snow/ice conditions, you'll need to be extra careful with your driving - meaning very S-L-O-W speeds - in the bad weather. Skating along black ice in a car is not for the faint of heart and/or inexperienced driver. You could hurt yourself or other drivers --or worse. So please, be considerate of other drivers, safe for yourself and don't overestimate your driving abilities. Stay to the right lanes, keep lane changes to a minimum, keep both hands on the wheel and maintain safe speed for conditions which could be substantially less than what is the posted speed limit.

Also, whatever you do - don't try to 'beat the weather' so you can get to/from Mammoth - Mother Nature always seems to prevail at that game.

Keep towels, blankets, food and water in the car - just in case of emergency.

Chicago
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2. Re: Driving from LA to Mammoth Lake in Early December

I can't really comment on winter driving, but we just did the drive from LA to Mammoth Lakes, and I would definitely suggest that you avoid landing in LA around rush hour.

Our plane was delayed, so we ended up getting our rental car around 4:30 and it took us a full hour to go ten miles.

If you have other options, you might fly into Las Vegas or Reno, which are much smaller cities. But if you're coming from out of the country, I can see why LA is your choice. Just try to land after the morning rush hour and before the afternoon rush.

Santa Monica...
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3. Re: Driving from LA to Mammoth Lake in Early December

Rental agencies do not allow chains on their cars, so you'll have to have a 4WD and buy chains to carry in case of a storm, which is highly likely in December. Last December was the snowiest month of the winter, but we cannot predict storms/weather.

Penang Island...
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4. Re: Driving from LA to Mammoth Lake in Early December

Thanks for your great sharing.

i do some research and found out that i can take Eastern Sierra Transit from Bishop to Mammoth, will that be good idea? What about the road condition from Las Vegas to Bishop? do i still need a chain or it snow free?

Manhattan Beach...
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5. Re: Driving from LA to Mammoth Lake in Early December

I have only ever done that ride in the summer, but I believe that the route from Las Vegas to Bishop is all at low altitude and you would be horribly horribly unlucky to encounter snow. I actually have hit snow between Mojave and Bishop, but chains were not required.

I like Ellebein's advice about renting a 4 wheel drive car. Once you are in Bishop you will have a good idea if you are likely to run into snow and if chains will be a factor. If it is not snowing and there is not snow in the forecast it is unlikely that you will need chains. If it is snowing you don't want to be driving and the bus is a good idea.

Santa Monica...
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6. Re: Driving from LA to Mammoth Lake in Early December

Fly from LA to Mammoth if you don't want to rent a car. There's already early season snow, with chain restrictions, today.

Penang Island...
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7. Re: Driving from LA to Mammoth Lake in Early December

Thanks, i might go for the bus option then.

Penang Island...
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8. Re: Driving from LA to Mammoth Lake in Early December

i did consider but it extremely expensive, it around $200 per person for return ticket. By the way, thanks for your suggestion.

9. Re: Driving from LA to Mammoth Lake in Early December

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