As a ski enthusiast, I always enjoy hitting the slopes during the winter months. And while there are many great ski resorts all over North America, I’m particularly partial to those in California. There are plenty of them scattered throughout the state, and each one offers something unique. From world-class skiing to breathtaking views, California’s ski resorts have something for everyone. So if you’re looking to hit the slopes this winter, check out one of these 11 Best Ski Resorts in California.
1. Big Bear Mountain Resort
Just a few hours’ drive from Los Angeles, Big Bear Mountain Resort is one of the most popular ski areas in Southern California. The resort actually consists of two separate mountains, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain, which are connected by a free shuttle bus.
Bear Mountain is the larger of the two mountains, with 240 acres of skiable terrain and 35 trail. On the other hand, Snow Summit features 240 acres of skiable terrain and 27 trails.
The resort has a total of 12 lifts, including high-speed quads. And if that’s not enough to get your adrenaline pumping, Big Bear Mountain Resort also offers top-notch terrain parks and freestyle zones with a wide range of jumps, rails, and other features.
Aside from top-notch skiing and snowboarding, Big Bear also offers other winter activities, like tubing, cross-country skiing, and even ice fishing. And when you’re ready to take a break from all the action, head into the village for some shopping and dining.
When it comes to lodging, this resort has a wide range of options, from budget-friendly motels to upscale condos and cabins. So if you’re looking for the best ski resorts in California that have it all, Big Bear Mountain Resort is the place for you.
2. Heavenly Ski Resort
Next on my list is Heavenly Ski Resort, a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders across California. With 4,800 acres of skiable terrain, Heavenly is one of the largest ski resorts in California and one of the top 10 largest in North America.
With an average annual snowfall of more than 350 inches, you’re guaranteed plenty of fresh powder on top of nearly 100 runs. The resort also has 97 trails and 30 lifts that provide access to a variety of terrain, from beginner-friendly green runs to advanced black diamonds.
In addition to downhill skiing and snowboarding, Heavenly Ski Resort also offers cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tubing, and a snow park with sledding hills and a beginner’s ski area.
And if you want to take a break from skiing, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy. Take a ride on the Heavenly Gondola, which takes skiers and snowboarders up to the top of the mountain for panoramic views of Lake Tahoe. You can also try your luck at the Casino.
Heavenly Ski Resort is also conveniently located close to the town of South Lake Tahoe, which offers plenty of accommodation options and restaurants. This makes it the perfect spot if you’re looking for a luxurious ski getaway or just a weekend away from the city, Heavenly is a top choice for skiers in California.
3. Badger Pass Ski Area
Badger Pass Ski Area is located in Yosemite National Park and is one of the oldest ski resorts in California. The resort first opened in 1935 and was originally serviced by a rope tow.
Today, Badger Pass Ski Area has five chairlifts and one surface lift that provide access to 10 downhill trails. There is also a beginner’s area with a couple of magic carpets. The resort gets an average of 200 inches of snow each year, so there is always plenty of powder to enjoy.
What really sets Badger Pass apart are the unique opportunities for exploration and adventure. From cross-country skiing to snowshoeing to sledding and tubing, there’s something fun for everyone here. And with beautiful views of Yosemite Valley and the surrounding mountains, it’s easy to see why so many people flock to Badger Pass for a winter getaway.
Badger Pass Ski Area is a great place for families because it offers lessons for all levels, from beginner to expert. There are also rentals available, so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own gear. So whether you are an experienced skier or just starting out, Badger Pass Ski Area is one of the best California ski resorts that should not be missed.
4. Palisades Tahoe
Palisades Tahoe is a top ski resort in California for those looking for a luxurious ski getaway. Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this resort offers top-of-the-line amenities.
Palisades Tahoe offers 6,000 acres of skiable terrain and has a vertical drop of 2,850 feet. And with more than 270 runs and 42 lifts, there’s something for everyone here. And with an average annual snowfall of 450 inches, you’re guaranteed plenty of powdery goodness.
The resort features a top-notch ski school for beginners, as well as more advanced terrain parks for experienced skiers and snowboarders. And if you’re looking to take a break from the slopes, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy here, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating.
Beyond the slopes, Palisades Tahoe is home to several top restaurants and bars where you can relax and refuel after a day on the mountain. You can also take advantage of the resort’s convenient location and explore the town of South Lake Tahoe, which is just a short drive away.
What’s more, Palisades Tahoe is located just minutes from the town of Tahoe City, which offers a variety of shops and restaurants. So whether you’re looking for a romantic weekend getaway or a family-friendly ski vacation, Palisades Tahoe should definitely be on your list of the best ski resorts to visit in California.
5. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area
Next up on the best ski resorts in California list is Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. With 3,500 acres of skiable terrain and more than 175 trails, Mammoth Mountain is one of the largest ski resorts in the United States.
Located in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area has some of the highest elevations and longest ski seasons in the country. With an elevation of 11,000 feet, skiers can enjoy top-notch snow conditions year-round, with usually more than 400 inches of snowfall each season.
What makes Mammoth Mountain so special is its extensive lift system. This resort has over 25 lifts and gondolas that serve all corners of the mountain, including the top of 11,053 foot Mammoth Peak. This means that you can access some truly impressive runs with ease from anywhere on the mountain.
Mammoth Mountain also offers a wide variety of terrain to accommodate all levels of skiers and snowboarders. Beginners can enjoy gentle slopes, while advanced skiers and riders can challenge themselves on the resort’s more difficult runs. There are also plenty of options for those looking to take a break from the slopes, including restaurants, shops, and lodging.
Mammoth Mountain is open for skiing and snowboarding from late November through mid-April, offering top-notch conditions throughout the season.
6. Kirkwood Ski Resort
A favorite of many California skiers, Kirkwood Ski Resort, is one of the top ski destinations in the state. Located in South Lake Tahoe, Kirkwood gets an annual average of 473 inches of snowfall, so you can be sure that there will be plenty of powder to enjoy during your stay.
With 2,300 acres of skiable terrain, Kirkwood has some of the most challenging runs in California. From the top of Mount Rose at 9,800 feet, skiers can drop into 75 percent advanced or expert trails. But there are also plenty of more beginner-friendly options for those just starting on their snowsports journey.
Kirkwood features a variety of mountain experiences, including steep chutes and wide-open bowls, as well as plenty of groomed runs. For a truly memorable experience, head to “The Wall,” one of the steepest ski slopes in North America.
One of my favorite things about Kirkwood is that it’s not as crowded as some other California ski resorts. Even on busy days, you never feel like you’re fighting for space on the slopes.
No matter your skill level or speed preference, you’ll find something to love at Kirkwood Ski Resort. So if you’re looking for an action-packed skiing adventure in California, this top ski destination should be at the top of your list.
7. Mt. Shasta Ski Park
Mt. Shasta Ski Park is one of California’s best ski resorts, offering visitors a chance to ski or snowboard on the slopes of an active volcano. The 7,500-foot-tall Mt. Shasta is the second-highest peak in the Cascade Range and one of the most popular snowboarding destinations in California.
The park encompasses 425 acres of skiable terrain with 14 runs served by two lifts. The mountain typically sees an annual snowfall of 275 inches, which means there’s plenty of powder to enjoy. The longest run is nearly two miles long, and there’s also a terrain park for snowboarders and freestyle skiers.
There are also plenty of opportunities to get off the slopes and explore the surrounding area. If you’re looking for some adventure, you can go snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, or even dog sledding. In addition to top-notch ski trails and a snowboarding park, this resort also offers a variety of dining options and comfortable accommodation options, including the nearby Shasta Inn & Suites.
One of the best things about Mt. Shasta Ski Park is that it’s located in the heart of the scenic Shasta-Trinity National Forest. This means that, in addition to great skiing and snowboarding, there are also plenty of other outdoor activities to enjoy in the area.
8. Northstar California
Northstar California is a top ski resort for those who want to enjoy world-class skiing without all the crowds. It is also a great choice for families, with plenty of beginner and intermediate trails as well as a top-rated terrain park.
With nearly 3,000 acres of skiable terrain across more than 100 runs, Northstar California offers plenty of space for both beginners and experts to explore. From gentle greens to challenging blacks, it’s easy to find the perfect run for your skills. And since all of the runs are accessible via high-speed lifts, you can get on the slopes and back to the top in no time.
But perhaps what makes Northstar California one of the best ski resorts in California is its world-class facilities, including on-site lodging and dining options. The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe offers top-notch accommodations year-round, while their on-mountain village has tons of great restaurants, bars, and shops.
So if you’re looking for a top-notch ski vacation that is sure to please, then head over to Northstar California and enjoy some amazing mountain vistas and plenty of fresh powder.
9. Sugar Bowl Resort
Sugar Bowl Resort is yet another top-notch choice for a California ski vacation, especially if you’re looking for a family-friendly option. With over 80 years of history and tradition, this beautiful mountain boasts more than 500 inches of snowfall each year, making it a top choice for powder hounds.
The 1,650-acre resort has plenty of terrain for all types of skiers and riders, with 17 percent beginner, 45 percent intermediate, and 38 percent advanced runs. And with its convenient location just an hour from Reno, Nevada, and Lake Tahoe, Sugar Bowl Resort is easy to get to.
In addition to great skiing and riding, Sugar Bowl Resort is also home to the historic Sugar Bowl Academy, a top-ranked ski and snowboard school. The academy’s programs are open to both kids and adults, and they offer private and group instruction as well as race training.
Sugar Bowl is also known for its eclectic mix of old-school charm and modern amenities. The resort includes a quaint village with several restaurants and bars, as well as a variety of lodging options. If you’re looking for a top-notch ski experience, Sugar Bowl Resort is definitely worth a visit.
10. Boreal Mountain Ski Resort
I continue my list of the best California ski resorts with Boreal Mountain Ski Resort, located in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountain range. With a top elevation of 7,700 feet and more than 42 runs across 380 acres, there’s plenty of room to enjoy your favorite skiing or snowboarding activities.
Boreal is known for its excellent snow conditions, which offer a wide range of terrain for skiers and boarders of all skill levels. And because the resort is located in northern California, skiers and riders can take advantage of its perfect blend of topography and weather to enjoy long, fast runs all season long.
Boreal Mountain Ski Resort is also known for its night skiing, which is available on select trails every night of the week. So if you’re looking for a place to ski or snowboard under the stars, Boreal is the place for you.
After having fun with the snow, there are plenty of on-site dining options and accommodations, as well as a wide range of nearby activities.
11. Mt. Baldy Resort
Finally, I am sure that Mt. Baldy Resort will top many people’s list of the best ski resorts in California. After all, it is the closest major ski resort to Los Angeles, only an hour’s drive away. That means you can easily go skiing or snowboarding for a day trip from LA, making it a great option if you don’t have time for a longer vacation.
Mt. Baldy Resort has 26 trails and four chair lifts, so it’s not the biggest ski resort around. However, what it lacks in size, it makes up for in quality. There is a good mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced trails, so there is something for everyone. The slopes are well-groomed, and the views from the top of the mountain are simply stunning.
The resort also offers a variety of lessons and clinics for all levels, so you can improve your skills or learn something new while you’re on vacation. And if you need a break from skiing, you can always enjoy the stunning views of the San Gabriel Mountains from the top of the mountain. And if you want to spend more than a day at Mt. Baldy Resort, there are a few lodging options nearby.
These are just a few of the best California ski resorts that should be on your list. With so many great options to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect resort for your skiing and snowboarding needs. I hope this article has helped you narrow down your choices for where to spend your hard-earned winter ski vacation. So get out there and enjoy the slopes!