For a state that gets as much sun as California, it can sometimes be hard to remember that it is home to some of the best skiing and snowboarding spots in the country. Here are some our favorite resorts that you’ll find there.
Big Bear Mountain Resort
Peak elevation: 8,805 ft.
Skiable area: 748 acres
Total runs: 62
Boasting the highest mountain peak in Southern California, this SoCal mountain resort located near Big Bear Lake is home to some of the best innovations in park design and features the only half-pipes as well as one of the few superpipes located in the southern part of the state. Big Bear Mountain Resort has some great history for fans of winter sports. It’s where many famous athletes such as Shaun White got their start on the slopes, and it also established the first freestyle park in the early 90s, which helped in boosting the popularity of freestyle skiing. There are plenty of terrain parks that cater to every rider, from those looking for a relaxing ride to those who are wanting to test out their skills, with plenty of fresh features that will keep more experienced riders on their toes. The skill builder park is great for beginners with smaller rails and rollers that help riders build their skills on the slopes and get comfortable on their skis. The Scene is located in front of the sundeck and is where the park crew tries out new setups to keep things interesting for veterans of the resort.
When you’re craving something to eat, the resort has some great restaurants on hand. If you’re a fan of BBQ, you’ll have plenty of options such as the rustic Bighorn Smokehouse or the scenic BBQ in the Park, or when you’re just in the mood for a drink, the Hawks ‘52 and the Skyline Taphouse have you covered. With over 748 acres and plenty of scenic runs to ski on, the name “Big Bear” doesn’t disappoint. Whether you’re looking to try out some new slopes or just keep it casual, this ski resort has something for everyone.
Peak elevation: 9,050 ft.
Skiable area: 4,000 acres
Total runs: 177
Host site to the 1960 Olympics, Squaw Valley is the second-largest ski resort in Lake Tahoe, which contains plenty of beautiful sights for skiers to enjoy. With plenty of stretches of wild terrain, this ski resort is a favorite among the more hardcore skiing community. The ski resort receives 40 feet or more of snow in a given winter, which leaves plenty of fresh powder for groomer runs. Combine that with steep slopes, and you’ve got yourself a plethora of thrilling trails for you to hone your skills on.
When you’ve had your fill for the day, you can rest at the beautiful base village for plenty of dining options and accommodations. If you’re feeling more adventurous, take the aerial tramway up the mountain, which, at 8,200 feet, will give you plenty of gorgeous views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area. After arriving, stop by the Granite Bistro Cafe for a cup of warm coffee with a view, or try out some high-altitude disc golf. For plenty of scenic views, satisfying slopes and cozy accommodations, the Squaw Valley ski resort is a great choice for skiers looking to ride fast and improve their skill.
Peak elevation: 8,610 ft.
Skiable area: 3,170 acres
Total runs: 100
With 60% of trails designated for intermediate riders, the Northstar California ski resort offers a great option for skiers who enjoy long-groomed runs. Plenty of the runs will have you skiing through the trees, which means you’ll be more sheltered from the elements while you ski. Thanks to the lower altitude, the lifts are usually able to stay open during storms as well. The resort features some of the best groomers around, and for those who enjoy longer rides, the Loggers Loop provides just under a mile and a half of mountain for you to enjoy the scenery and work on your skill. If you’ll be traveling with young ones, there are family-friendly zones for your kids to enjoy as they experience easy riding on blue trails.
You’ll find comfortable lodging in the busy base village where there is plenty of of accommodations and various activities to do when you’re looking to relax, such as yoga and ice skating. When you’re looking for a bite to eat, the Summit Smokehouse offers scenic dining at 8,610 feet so you can gander at the gorgeous views of Lake Tahoe while you enjoy some delicious food. Designed with a rustic aesthetic and featuring meals made with locally-sourced ingredients, the Tavern 6330’ is another great dining option. At this ski resort, there are plenty of ways to relax and more importantly, many ways to enjoy a good ski ride on the mountain.
Peak elevation: 8,852 ft.
Skiable area: 2,000 acres
Total runs: 46
Perfect for those looking for a more casual riding experience, the Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort is a great spot to practice your skiing. A quarter of the trails are beginner-friendly and allow you to steadily work your way up to intermediate if you’re feeling bold. With a heavy focus on skill progression, Sierra-at-Tahoe strives to provide plenty of terrain parks with features that will appeal to everyone’s ability level, with many groomers that offer smooth slopes for skiing. If you’re a beginner, the Burton Progression park is perfect for those who are trying out freestyle for the first time, and carries low-to-the-ground boxes along with smaller jumps to help get you comfortable should you want to try something more advanced. For those who have more experience on the slopes, the Upper Snowshoe will offer you a multitude of opportunities for you to practice tricks, grabs and jumps. When you’re looking for a long ride, the Sugar n’ Spice offers you 2.5 miles of trail from the top of the mountain for a scenic run that you won’t soon forget.
No matter your skill level, the parks at this ski resort will have something to offer you and are built to help ease you into the next step if you’re feeling up to it. The resort is also very family-friendly with lots of options for your little ones to get started on their ski legs. With such a wide variety of trails and areas for you to improve your skiing ability, you can’t go wrong with Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort.
Peak elevation: 11,059 ft.
Skiable area: 3,500 acres
Total runs: 150
Located on the north side of of the titular mountain, Mammoth Mountain ski resort has one of the longest ski seasons in North America. This resort contains plenty of groomed runs, as well as mogul runs for the more technical riders who are looking for a challenge. You have the choice between eight unbound terrain parks to ride in, all featuring a unique variety of jibs, half-pipes and jumps, so that you’ll be able to enjoy a combination of relaxing fun and skill progression. The Main unbound park in particular, where so many professional skiers and snowboarders started their careers, is perfect for when you’re looking to test your abilities and push the limit for what you’re capable of. If you’re looking to gain more experience on the slopes, the resort offers clinics and development programs to help you work on your skills.
When you’re looking for something a little more laid-back, you can take tours to learn more about the region, and there are a ton of cross-country ski trails for you to ride on so you can explore the mountain and catch some scenic views of the gorgeous landscape while you ride. With so many slopes that offer varying degrees of difficulty, as well as the options to relax and check out the mountain, the Mammoth Mountain ski resort has much to offer skiers of all skill levels.
Boreal Mountain Resort
Peak elevation: 7,700 ft.
Skiable area: 380 acres
Total runs: 41
If you’re looking for a location that specializes in park riding, the Boreal Mountain Resort has plenty of runs that contain the essentials for you to hone your park skills on. There is a large variety of parks available to you here: from the big blue, which contains plenty of jibs and jumps, to the California Wave Pool, a park that offers plenty of bumps and bobs that will test your abilities on the slopes. Jibassic Park, a park that debuted in 1992 and was one of the first terrain parks to ever be created, has been updated and is making its return for the 2018-2019 season. The half pipe is perfect for when you’re looking to show off your skills on the slopes and practice your new favorite tricks.
Whether you consider yourself a master of the terrain park or someone who occasionally rides the rails, the Pacific High Line park offers tons of jumps in various sizes for riders of any ability level to practice their skills and test comfort level for getting in the air. For those who are looking to ride on terrain park for their first time, the Easy Rider is a no-pressure space that provides a great introduction into freestyle riding with plenty of smaller versions of park features, such as mini rails and jumps. If this is your first resort experience ever and you’re looking to dive into skiing for the first time, there’s a starter park that will help you learn the ropes and get comfortable before you take your skis to higher trails. If you’re traveling with little ones, the place offers kids’ programs so your family can join in on the fun. There’s also the Playland park that features snowtubing so your kids can enjoy snowplay if they’re too young for the slopes.
When you’re in the mood for some comfort food after all of that skiing, the Moondoe’s Cafe has tasty panini sandwiches along with a variety of other healthy food choices. One of the best things about Boreal Mountain is that it also stays open until 9 p.m. so you can enjoy skiing on the slopes under the cover of winter night.
Those are just a few of the amazing resorts that California has to offer, and they’re all worth considering when you’re looking for a new skiing experience. From gorgeous trails that start you at the top of the mountains to restaurants that offer delicious foods with scenic views, these ski resorts are worth the trip, whether you’re traveling alone or going with your family. Be sure to check these spots out when you’re in the mood for California skiing.