Ski Resorts in California
- Some resorts with low elevation are generally warmer and can see rain
- ‘Sierra cement’ – notorious wet and hard snow
- Popular ski resorts are a far drive from the closest airport compared to those in Utah
- Fly into Reno-Tahoe International Airport or Sacramento International Airport for ski resorts in the Sierra Nevada range including those at Lake Tahoe. For smaller ski areas in Southern California, fly to Los Angeles International Airport.
- Best way to resorts is by renting a car and driving or taking a shuttle bus (where available). From Los Angeles International airport it’s a 1.5-3 hour drive to reach some of the smaller resorts near Los Angeles. From Reno-Tahoe International airport it’s a 3-4 hour drive to reach some resorts in Lake Tahoe. Top tip: The Tahoe Basin is legendary for huge powder dumps so hire a 4WD vehicle to tackle the snowy road conditions. Travel clockwise around Lake Tahoe for undisrupted views of the stunning blue water.
California’s best ski resorts sit along the Sierra Nevada Range which stretches from Mammoth Mountain to the resorts in Lake Tahoe. There are a few household names around as well as number of hidden gems that are well worth exploring in California. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the best.
If it’s your first time skiing in California, then these are the resorts you’ll want to ski at. As with any big name resort, you can expect some of the best California has to offer with excellent skiing, facilities (with the exception of Alpine Meadows), activities and après ski options. On the downside, crowds tend to venture here and prices of lift tickets, lodging and food tend to be higher compared to other resorts.
These resorts serve up everything locals are after: excellent terrain, cheap lift tickets and quiet mountains. They tend to offer a more low-key vibe and are often overlooked by destination skiers. If you don’t mind the lack of amenities compared to the big names, these resorts make for a worthwhile visit.
No matter what style of family vacation you’re after, California has got it all. If accessibility is a priority then Sugar Bowl and Tahoe Donner are great low-key options within easy reach of the San Francisco Bay area. They both offer mid-sized terrain so it’s easy for families to stay together. For a luxury vacation with the all the trimmings, Northstar is loaded with amenities and activities for kids.
|Best for Beginners||Squaw Valley – Alpine Meadows, Northstar, Tahoe Donner|
|Best for Intermediates||Northstar, Heavenly|
|Best for Advanced and Experts||Kirkwood|
|Best for All-rounder||Mammoth Mountain, Squaw Valley – Alpine Meadows|
|Highest Summit Elevation||Mammoth Mountain|
|Highest number of runs||Squaw Valley – Alpine Meadows|
|Largest ski area||Squaw Valley – Alpine Meadows|
|Highest number of lifts||Squaw Valley – Alpine Meadows|