California Ski & Snowboard Resort Guide


California has a little bit of everything from the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range to the Pacific Ocean. California also has some of the best ski and snowboard resorts in the United States. Some of these resorts are among the snowiest in the United States with average annual snowfalls greater than 500”. It wouldn’t be skiing and snowboarding in California if there wasn’t sunshine, however. Some of these same resorts also see 300 days or more of sunshine per year. This amazing combination of snow and sun makes skiing and snowboarding in California a unique and unforgettable experience.

Both northern California, and southern California have great resorts that are readily accessible from California’s biggest cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles. Northern California’s ski and snowboard resorts are clustered around Lake Tahoe, while southern California’s ski areas are clustered in the mountains outside of Los Angeles. Spread out among the large and popular ski areas like Mammoth and Squaw Valley there are also a ton of fun and friendly smaller resorts that are great places to fall in love with skiing and snowboarding.
 

California Ski Resort Map

Lake Tahoe


There are 12 ski and snowboard areas in the Lake Tahoe region. These range from large ski areas like Kirkwood, Squaw Valley and Heavenly, to small community areas like Homewood. Up to 600” of snow falls each year on some of these resorts. Skiers and snowboarders can drive to these areas in just a couple of hours from Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area. Skiers and snowboarders visiting Lake Tahoe are treated to deep powder, lots of sunshine, and great terrain for beginners and experts alike. There are tons of lodging options in the region, the the Reno Tahoe Airport (RNO) is under an hour away. With all of this variety, Lake Tahoe is a great destination for longer ski and snowboard trips to California.

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Mammoth Mountain


Mammoth Mountain is one of California’s largest ski and snowboard resorts at 3,500 skiable acres. The resort has a big vertical drop, and a large annual snowfall of 400” to go with the huge selection of terrain. All of this powder is balanced, however, by 300 days of sunshine, making for plenty of bluebird powder days, and fun spring slush riding. While it’s still five hours from Los Angeles, it’s certainly closer to southern California than the ski and snowboard areas of Lake Tahoe. The mountain itself has a great array of skiing and snowboarding for riders of all abilities. Mammoth Mountain’s terrain parks are also known as some of the best in the United States, These parks draw professional skiers and snowboarders throughout the winter and into the spring. The Mammoth Mountain village is well developed, and has plenty of lodging to make it a great destination resort.

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Bear Mountain and Snow Summit


Just two hours from Los Angeles, the twin resorts of Bear Mountain and Snow Summit offer some of the best skiing and snowboarding in southern California. A total of 1,000 skiable acres between the two resorts offers fun terrain and some of the best terrain parks in California. While terrain parks take up a lot of the mountain, Bear is also a great ski and snowboard area for beginners. The Big Bear Lake resorts aren’t known for their steep and deep terrain, however, there is some decent steeper terrain up on Bear Mountain. Snow Summit has mostly fun intermediate cruising. Big Bear Mountain Resort is a great southern California ski and snowboard getaway.

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June Mountain

June Mountain Ski and Snowboard Area

June Mountain is Mammoth Mountain’s sister resort, but many of the similarities end there. Crowds can get quite large at Mammoth, June Mountain, meanwhile, is a very laid back and family friendly resort that rarely sees lift lines. Over half of the mountain is dedicated to beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders, making the mountain great for cruising around with the kids.
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Mountain High

Mountain High Ski and Snowboard Area

Mountain High is one of the closest skiing and snowboarding areas to Los Angeles, only 90 minutes from the city in the San Gabriel Mountains. The two separate base areas serve 1,600’ of vertical on 500 skiable acres. While the terrain may not compare to that of Mammoth, Mountain High is beginner friendly and has some fun skiing and snowboarding close to southern California’s biggest cities.

Mt. Baldy

Mt. Baldy Ski and Snowboard Area

Only a 60 minute drive from Los Angeles, Mt. Baldy has the steepest and most challenging terrain in southern California. The lifts have a surprising base elevation of 6,500’. Reaching all the way up to 8,600’. While the southern latitude of Mt. Baldy might not lend itself to huge snowfalls, the base is much higher than resorts like Whistler. Because the resort is dependant on natural snow, it can take Mt. Baldy a while to open, but once it does, the ski and snowboard area is a great option for southern California.
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Mt. Shasta Ski Park

Mt. Shasta Ski Park

California’s most northern ski and snowboard area, Mt. Shasta Ski Park offers nearly 500 acres of skiable terrain at the foot of the 14,000’ volcano. This cute little resort has three chairlifts that serve terrain for all abilities.

 


China Peak Mountain Resort

China Peak Ski and Snowboard Area

Located 65 miles northeast of Fresno, China Peak Resort has 1,679’ of vertical over 1,400 skiable acres of terrain. This is comparable to some of the ski and snowboard resorts in the Lake Tahoe area. While the 300”of average annual snowfall is less than Lake Tahoe, China Peak definitely has some of the best skiing and snowboarding in central California. The mountain itself is family friendly, and has a wide array of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. The accommodations and lift tickets here are also a bargain compared to many California ski and snowboard resorts of a similar size; for its size Ski China Peak is California’s cheapest ski and snowboard resort.

 


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Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area

Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area

Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area and Hurricane Ridge in Washington State are the only ski areas in the United States located in National Parks. With five lifts and 800’ of vertical Yosemite ski and snowboard area isn’t very large, but does offer a fun experience. The ski and snowboard area has operated since the late 1930s and was originally named Badger Pass Ski Area. The lift tickets are cheap, and the terrain is best suited to beginners and intermediates, making the area a fun and unique family skiing and snowboarding destination.

 

Dodge Ridge

Dodge Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area

Dodge Ridge is a small family-oriented ski and snowboard area located in central California between Yosemite National Park and Lake tahoe. It’s a closer alternative to Lake Tahoe, only three hours driving from the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Valley. The mountain’s 12 total lifts access 1,600’ vertical of skiing and snowboarding on 862 acres. The terrain may not stack up to some California ski and snowboard resorts, but the lack of crowds and easy access make Dodge Ridge a nice little resort.
 
 
Need ski or snowboard gear for your trip? Gear up! Shop online, or stop by one of our amazing flagship stores in Seattle, Portland, or Denver and get stocked up on everything you need for an all-time day on the slopes.

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