Minaret Vista is a popular summer destination where visitors can drive to its panoramic lookout point; in the winter, however, snow buries the access road and the trek to the vista point instead makes for a brisk uphill trek for snowshoers or cross-country skiers.
Standing just under a 500-foot elevation gain from the starting point, Minaret Vista offers views of the Minarets and surrounding peaks along with the White Mountains across the Owens Valley and epic views of Mammoth Mountain so close you can easily watch skiers and snowboarders carve down the side of the mountain.
If anything, its proximity to the resort peaks is its negative point. To access the route to the lookout point you must park at the resort parking area and then head about 1,500 yards alongside resort terrain that may be crowded with skiers. It can be a little bit like the game Frogger near the trailhead, where multiple slopes all converge at different lifts. Beyond this, when you think you can relax from the skiers, the road is immediately joined by a popular snowmobile track, where you may have loud company barreling past you for the remainder of the climb.
The route is uphill the entirety of the trek, though the slopes generally stay to a mild grade and most snowshoers of moderate ability should have no issue with the climb.
The summit lies just over 1.5 miles from the parking area. And after you descend, you have your selection of warm food and hot drinks to choose from inside the resort! Definitely keep dogs on a leash through the resort area.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.