From hidden gems to large names: Listed below are 11 of California’s finest ski resorts

When contemplating California as a vacation spot, many vacationers seemingly first consider solar and surf. Nevertheless, the Golden State can also be a worthy winter vacation spot for these in search of snow.

Head only a bit in from the coast and you will find main mountains with loads of annual snowfall. So, it is no shock that California claims a number of dozen ski resorts, from the smallest of native ski hills to a number of megaresorts that appeal to vacationers from world wide.

Nearly the entire largest resorts are positioned within the northern half of the state. With a number of exceptions, most are close to Lake Tahoe or only a bit south within the Sierra Nevada mountain vary. You will discover a number of extra in Southern California as effectively, together with within the southern Sierras and the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains.


If you wish to commerce in your surfboard for a snowboard in your subsequent California trip, listed here are 11 of one of the best ski resorts to think about within the state.

Heavenly Lake Tahoe


Positioned in South Lake Tahoe only a minute or two from the shores of the lake, Heavenly is certainly one of California’s largest ski resorts. This sprawling property — which is owned and operated by Vail Resorts, which means it participates within the Epic Go — has 4 separate base areas, every with its personal vibe and terrain kind. Because of this, it serves a wide range of skier and rider sorts effectively. When the solar shines brightly on a cloudless day, the views of the lake beneath are, effectively, heavenly.

The resort’s distinctive location proper on the Nevada-California state line means skiers and riders can cross between the states a number of occasions in a single day. This location additionally places Heavenly inside strolling distance of a thriving on line casino scene in Stateline, Nevada.

On the casinos, you will discover some offers on lodging, in addition to loads of leisure and apres-ski actions. Marriott Bonvoy members can redeem and earn at two well-located properties on the base of Heavenly’s gondola: Marriott’s Timber Lodge and the Marriott Grand Residence Membership, Lake Tahoe.

Associated: Evaluating Epic, Ikon, Mountain Collective and Indy Go

Palisades Tahoe


North Lake Tahoe is house to a different California megaresort: Palisades. The resort rebranded to this new title within the 2021-22 ski season and is certainly one of 4 ski resorts in California that take part within the Ikon Go.

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Most well-known for having hosted the 1960 Olympics, Palisades continues to draw skiers from world wide. The resort boasts some significantly difficult terrain, together with the well-known and often-feared bowls and chutes off the KT-22 peak. Palisades has a lot to supply newbie and intermediate skiers and riders, too. It boasts all kinds of terrain, in addition to a thriving base village with slopeside lodging, quite a few actions and a energetic restaurant scene.

The resort is technically two resorts in a single, as Palisades acquired the previously impartial Alpine Meadows in 2012. Beforehand, the 2 neighboring resorts have been solely linked by way of a shuttle between the bottom areas, however a gondola bridging this hole is underneath development for the 2022-23 season. The connection will make Palisades one of many largest ski resorts in North America and the biggest in California.

The closest points-friendly resort to Palisades is a slopeside Class 6 World of Hyatt property.

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Northstar California Resort


Simply minutes away from Palisades in North Lake Tahoe is Northstar California Resort. As the primary Tahoe-area resort to be acquired by Vail Resorts (again in 2010), this Epic Go property has benefited from main infrastructure funding. Northstar’s village is now one of many liveliest of any ski resort in California, with a number of eating places, outlets, an ice skating rink and a movie show.

Whereas it does not have as a lot legendary, super-challenging technical terrain as a number of of its rivals, Northstar has loads of selection for each talent stage. The Bottom and Lookout Mountain are favorites of the black diamond-loving crowd. Northstar additionally gives among the most dependable snowmaking operations within the Tahoe space, which has been invaluable in current drought years.

As a full-service mountain resort, Northstar serves each households and luxurious vacationers effectively. Its ski college is without doubt one of the few in California that begins children out as younger as 3. It’s also identified for its premier instructors and an interesting Youngsters’s Ski and Snowboard Middle location mid-mountain.

The slopeside Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe is probably the most luxurious resort within the Lake Tahoe space, although you will must shell out anyplace from 82,000 to 120,000 Marriott factors per night time to remain right here throughout the winter months. Different close by factors choices embrace the Northstar Lodge and One Village Place, each of which are actually affiliated with Hyatt and are listed as Class 6 properties. The Hampton Inn & Suites Tahoe-Truckee, which is positioned simply a few minutes down the highway from the resort, is another choice that is usually a precious use of Hilton factors, because it repeatedly fees 48,000 to 60,000 factors per night time for normal rooms in winter.

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Mammoth Mountain


House to the state’s highest ski peak and highest base elevation — in addition to 3,500 skiable acres of each terrain kind — Mammoth legitimately earns its title. Plus, the large resort normally gives one of many longest ski seasons within the state.

Positioned within the central Sierras, Mammoth is the biggest ski resort in California outdoors the Tahoe space. It’s owned and operated by Alterra Mountain Firm and participates within the Ikon Go.

Like many different giant ski resorts in California, Mammoth gives loads of slopeside lodging, together with the full-service Westin Monache Resort, Mammoth, which has commonplace rooms bookable for 54,000 to 74,000 Marriott factors per night time in winter. It additionally encompasses a village space with procuring and eating that connects by way of gondola to the slopes.

Though Mammoth is the closest main ski resort to Southern California, Angelenos nonetheless should drive 5 to 6 hours to succeed in its slopes relying on site visitors and climate situations.

The resort is even nearer to the San Francisco Bay Space, however winter highway closures over the Sierras make it a for much longer drive for a lot of Northern California guests. For those who’d somewhat not try to drive from the Bay Space, think about flying by way of United Airways, which gives seasonal service from San Francisco Worldwide Airport (SFO) to Jap Sierra Regional Airport (BIH) in close by Bishop, California.

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Sugar Bowl Resort


Positioned by Donner Summit en path to Lake Tahoe, Sugar Bowl is the closest main ski resort to Sacramento (a lower than two-hour drive) and the San Francisco Bay Space (a three-hour drive). Its location makes it a preferred vacation spot for weekend warriors and even daytrippers from the northern half of the state.

Though it does not have the big dimension of Palisades or Heavenly, Sugar Bowl nonetheless gives difficult terrain on par with one of the best in California. It’s also very family-friendly, with ski college classes for teenagers and loads of newbie terrain.

Whereas it fiercely maintained its independence for years as Alterra and Vail moved across the California ski scene, Sugar Bowl lastly discovered a contented medium for the 2022-23 ski season. Along with providing its widespread season move for guests who solely wish to ski at Sugar Bowl, the resort now additionally participates within the Mountain Collective move for vacationers who go to a number of ski locations every year.

The one conventional slopeside lodging is The Lodge at Sugar Bowl, which gives eating and ski-on, ski-off entry. Nevertheless, it is solely out there for Wednesday by Saturday bookings. For those who do not thoughts staying about 20 minutes away, think about the SpringHill Suites Truckee for 30,000 to 80,000 factors per night time.

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Kirkwood Mountain Resort


Kirkwood is commonly described as a hidden gem of California’s ski scene. Its location simply south of Lake Tahoe alongside the less-traveled Freeway 88 makes it a little bit quieter than among the giant, regional resorts.

On common, Kirkwood will get extra snow than some other ski resort within the state, making it a favourite of significant skiers and riders searching for one of the best situations however not essentially all of the frills. The resort gives a number of slopeside lodging choices and all of the important facilities at its base areas.

Kirkwood shouldn’t be as developed as the opposite two Vail-owned Epic Go/Tahoe-area resorts, and plenty of Kirkwood purists would let you know they prefer it that means. Regardless that it has a steep and deep status with a lot of difficult terrain, Kirkwood’s newbie areas are among the finest in California as effectively.

Whereas there aren’t any factors inns within the space, The Mountain Membership — which options modest ski-in, ski-out condos in Kirkwood’s village — is a strong choice.

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Massive Bear Mountain Resort


Massive Bear Mountain Resort within the San Bernardino Mountains is the biggest ski resort that you would be able to attain in a straightforward daytrip or in a single day drive from a lot of Southern California.

Just like its Ikon Go counterpart at Palisades, Massive Bear Mountain is de facto two resorts in a single. Tickets and passes are legitimate at two base areas on two completely different mountains: Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. The 2 are positioned a few 10-minute drive aside, and skiers can attain them by shuttle.

Snow Summit is lower-key and higher suited to newbie skiers. Bear Mountain is extra action-packed and adventurous, and it gives lots for snowboarders. It is the one Southern California resort with halfpipes and likewise has a number of terrain parks.

Neither mountain gives slopeside inns, however the close by all-season trip vacation spot of Massive Bear Lake has a wide range of lodging choices at a number of worth factors, together with Finest Western and Vacation Inn outposts.

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Snow Valley Mountain Resort


Southern California skiers additionally discover the slopes of Snow Valley (to not be confused with Snow Summit) a handy ski vacation spot, because it’s positioned not removed from Massive Bear Mountain Resort. In truth, it is a little bit nearer for vacationers from the Los Angeles space, making it a straightforward cease for these touring a number of locations inside Southern California in a single journey.

Snow Valley is a small resort in comparison with the key choices within the northern Sierras, however regardless of its small dimension, it gives a wide range of terrain and a variety of ski bang for the buck. The resort has a well-regarded newbie space with a ski college for teenagers in addition to grownup classes. Nonetheless, it additionally options loads of black diamonds, particularly when the Slide Peak space again bowls are open. Elevate tickets and ski leases value far lower than at among the state’s medium and huge resorts.

The property does not have any slopeside lodging, however skiers can discover some impartial inns and trip leases within the neighborhood of Operating Springs a number of miles down the highway.

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Bear Valley Resort


Bear Valley is a midsize California ski resort nestled within the central Sierras between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite Nationwide Park. It has a extra relaxed vibe than lots of the larger resorts and is widespread with skiers and riders on a funds, in addition to households.

This resort has a reasonably even mixture of newbie, intermediate and superior terrain. It gives lots of the facilities of a bigger resort — from eating to high-speed lifts — at a cheaper price than its Tahoe counterparts.

Its village space makes it extra of a full-service resort than many different ski properties its dimension. Although smaller than the standard villages of bigger resorts, it gives ski-in however is not linked by way of return raise. The Bear Valley Lodge is the one resort within the space, however the village has numerous trip leases and cabins as effectively.

Sierra at Tahoe


A midsize resort within the South Lake Tahoe space, Sierra at Tahoe is understood for its family-friendly and laid-back vibe. There is not any slopeside lodging or large village like among the largest resorts within the state, however Sierra at Tahoe has a fiercely loyal following for good motive. It gives all kinds of terrain for its dimension and is an effective worth for vacationers on a decent funds, particularly households with youthful children studying the right way to ski.

Sierra at Tahoe was hit arduous by the Caldor Fireplace in Lake Tahoe in the summertime of 2021, but it surely was capable of full repairs in time for a partial reopening on the very finish of the 2021-22 ski season. It plans a full opening for the winter of 2022-23.

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Badger Go Ski Space


Whereas Badger Go cannot compete with most California ski resorts in relation to dimension, its distinctive location makes it a significant draw for a lot of California vacationers. Badger Go is positioned fully inside the boundaries of Yosemite Nationwide Park — certainly one of simply three ski resorts with the excellence of a nationwide park location.

Moreover, Badger Go gives different winter out of doors actions past conventional snowboarding and snowboarding, similar to cross-country snowboarding, snowshoeing and tubing. Plus, guests can get pleasure from all of the majesty of the Yosemite panorama, a lot of which normally is blanketed with glistening snow.

As a result of it depends fully on pure snow, Badger Go has a shorter season than many California rivals and may have restricted choices in drought years. It normally welcomes guests from mid-December till mid- or late March, however precise opening dates can range, so make sure to test native situations repeatedly if you happen to plan to go to.

You may keep at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, a full-service resort located simply outdoors the park’s southern entrance, which is a few 45-minute drive away. There are additionally the Yosemite Valley Lodge and The Ahwahnee, two choices positioned about 45 minutes away from the resort that provide shuttles to the mountain.

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