Best Ski Resorts in California by 2022


California is known for its beaches, surfers, and Hollywood celebrities. But for skiers, California’s attraction rests in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which define the state’s eastern border.

California’s ski resorts provide beautiful alpine scenery, sunny winters, and powder-covered slopes. In fact, several California ski resorts rival those in Colorado and even Europe.

Top ski resorts ranked on overall skiing terrain and facilities. In Northern California, the bulk of resorts are located near Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Lakes, and Yosemite. Others include the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains, both of which are startlingly near to Los Angeles.

California has some of the greatest mountain landscapes and downhill skiing in North America. Use this list to find the best ski resorts in California for your winter holiday, weekend break, or day trip.

1. Palisades

This renowned resort in Northern California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains overlooks the shimmering emerald-blue Lake Tahoe. Palisades Tahoe, which hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics, is known for its challenging terrain and great skiing.

Lake Tahoe has over 300 sunny days each year, making it one of the top ski destinations in California. In the winter, the slopes receive at least 450 inches of powder snow.

A Palisades Tahoe ski pass also provides access to Alpine Meadows, a 15-minute shuttle ride away. These two resorts provide over 6,000 acres of skiable terrain and 270 routes served by 42 lifts.

Skiers of all levels will find enough runs to suit their talents. The bulk of runs are intermediate, with 43% being blue (great for beginners) and 32% being black diamonds (only specialists can manage).

The Village at Palisades Tahoe also has excellent dining and hotel choices. The Squaw Valley Lodge offers a pleasant accommodation near the ski lifts.

Driving time from San Francisco to Palisades Tahoe is around 3 hours 30 minutes.

2. Heavenly Ski Area

Heavenly is one of California’s most gorgeous ski resorts. Heavenly, with 34 miles of groomed runs and 4,630 skiable acres, is a three- to four-hour journey from San Francisco.

The resort overlooks the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, and is located on the California/Nevada border at 10,067 feet. The amazing powder-coated slopes aren’t the only draw at Heavenly.

The huge, wide-open ski slopes comprise 97 routes serviced by 28 chairlifts. Many of the routes are long runs of up to 3,500 vertical feet. The longest trail is five miles long, the longest on the West Coast.

Heavenly provides slopes for all levels, including courses for people starting to ski.

Experts flock to the resort’s massive double-black diamonds with 1,600-foot chutes. Heavenly’s two tough terrain parks attract freestyle skiers.

3. Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in the Eastern Sierra is a five-hour and 30-minute journey from Los Angeles. Mammoth is a popular ski resort due to its beautiful environment in the Sierra National Forest.

Mammoth is one of the first ski resorts to open every year, with a peak elevation of almost 11,000 feet and 400 inches of snowfall every year. The season usually lasts through May, and sometimes until July 4th. The Mammoth Lakes region also has various hotel and dining alternatives.

Mammoth Mountain has three base lodges, over 3,500 acres of skiable terrain, and 25 lifts serving 175 routes.

Mammoth Mountain is ideal for advanced skiers, with over 50% of the routes classified as expert or advanced.

Beginners can take solo or group lessons at Mammoth’s Ski & Snowboard School (offered at each base lodge). Each base lodge also features a Mammoth Kids school with kid-friendly ski training.

Mammoth Mountain’s Unbound Terrain Parks attract daring freeskiers. The resort has nine terrain parks on over 1500 acres with tough halfpipes, dozens of jib lines, and over 40 different jumps.

4. Northstar CA

Northstar California has the finest family-friendly activities, ski school, and terrain in Lake Tahoe. Many of the routes provide beautiful vistas and through virgin pine woods.

The 3,170 acre ski resort has 100 lines and 20 chairlifts. The bulk of runs (60%) are intermediate, 13% are beginning, and 27% are advanced. Longest run is 1.4 miles.

Northstar’s ski slopes are frequently covered in fine powder snow from the plentiful seasonal precipitation. Snowmaking equipment are used to supplement light precipitation.

Northstar’s alpine-style hamlet is a big draw. The village’s restaurants and hotels range from casual to expensive, making it ideal for shopping, dining, and housing.

5. Kirkwood Ski Area

Kirkwood has a distinct, more distant vibe than the other Tahoe resorts due to its distance from Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe. This charming 2,300-acre resort is known for its serene, unspoilt alpine landscape and difficult, varied terrain.

Kirkwood boasts some of the best powder snow conditions in Lake Tahoe. The snowfall is heavier and dryer at higher elevations (7,800-9,800 feet), allowing for better control on even the steepest sections.

Experienced skiers who can tackle the resort’s famed black diamonds should head to Kirkwood. One in every five runs (38 percent) is advanced or expert, and even the intermediate (30 percent) is slightly more challenging than comparable resort intermediate courses.

Only 14% of runs at Kirkwood are considered beginner. The longest run is 2.5 kilometres through wooded glades.

The Kirkwood region is less developed than other Lake Tahoe resorts. There are fewer hotel alternatives than at the Palisades Tahoe, Northstar, and Heavenly resorts, but many guests like the tranquil mountain setting.

The Mountain Club is a great place to stay near the ski lifts in Kirkwood. This modern resort hotel features ski-in/ski-out rooms, a coffee shop, restaurant, parking, hot tub, sauna, steam room, and fitness centre.

There are also vacation properties in Kirkwood. Short-term rentals include townhouses, condominiums, and cabins.

6. Sugar Bowl

This old ski resort is famous for its lovely atmosphere and excellent powdery slopes. Sugar Bowl has the highest snowfall (an average of 500 inches per year) of any resort in the Lake Tahoe area.

San Francisco is about a three-hour drive away, depending on traffic and weather. There’s also parking near the slopes, making it an easy day excursion.

The Inn at Sugar Bowl offers ski-in/ski-out rooms and a fine-dining restaurant serving gourmet food in an exquisite environment.

The ski slopes are just steps away from the lodge. The 1,650-acre ski area is wind-sheltered for a nice ski experience. The trails go through large glades surrounded by deep pine trees, with stunning mountain vistas at every bend.

Sugar Bowl features 12 lifts and 103 trails for all abilities. Most (45%) are intermediate, 38% are advanced, and 17% are novice “bunny hills.”

7.Big Bear Mountain

Big Bear Mountain Resort is one of the few California ski resorts not located in the Sierra Nevada.

It’s a two-hour (100-mile) trip from Los Angeles to the San Bernardino Mountains, which are almost 8,000 feet high.

Big Bear Mountain Resort near Big Bear Lake has two major ski areas: Bear Mountain (748 acres) and Snow Summit (240 acres).

Bear Mountain Resort has 15 trails served by 8 lifts. The majority of runs are intermediate (55%). (15 percent). Bear Mountain is also known for its top-ten snowboarding terrain parks (14 in all).

More than 60% of Snow Summit’s 27 routes are blue runs, designated for intermediate skiers. The resort includes six of California’s greatest terrain parks.

Both Bear Mountain and Snow Summit provide certified ski instruction. Bear Mountain boasts the largest ski and snowboarding school in Southern California.

8. Badger Pass

The Central Sierra’s oldest ski resort lies near the world-famous Yosemite National Park.

Badger Pass Ski Area is less congested and less expensive than many Tahoe ski resorts. This resort is ideal for families with children.

Cross-country skiing, snow tubing, and snowshoeing are permitted at this ski area.

9.Mt. Shasta Ski Resort

Mount Shasta, a 7,500-foot snow-capped volcanic peak in Northern California, is awe-inspiring. The Mt. Shasta Ski Park is located between Mount Shasta and McCloud, at the base of this iconic mountain (5,500 feet).

Most hotels, lodges, and restaurants are in Mount Shasta, but McCloud and Dunsmuir also have nice housing and dining options.

425 acres of skiable terrain with 32 downhill ski tracks. The majority of runs (55%) are intermediate, with 20% being beginning and 25% advanced. Longest run is 1.25 miles.

Snowboarders appreciate the terrain parks: Silvertip Terrain Park for beginners and intermediates, and Revolution Terrain Park for experts.

Skiers will appreciate the picturesque routes.

Backcountry skiing in the off-trail section of Mt. Shasta Ski Park is a unique experience for experienced skiers (hiring a guide is recommended). Skiers may reserve an overnight stay at one of the Backcountry Cabins, which have bunk beds and a wood-burning fireplace.

10. Mt. Baldy

Mt. Baldy is the nearest ski mountain to Los Angeles (50 miles), about an hour away if traffic permits. Mt. Baldy is known for its advanced black-diamond and double-black-diamond routes.

Mt Baldy Resort has few beginning and intermediate routes. The resort does provide a Learning Center where kids and adults may learn to ski.


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