11 Top-Rated Ski Resorts in California | Vestasoft

Written by Lisa Alexander
Nov 17, 2020

To tourists, California is most famous for its beaches, surfers, and Hollywood movie stars. But to skiers, the appeal of California lies far from the coastline, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which form the eastern border of the state.california 

The ski resorts of California offer majestic alpine scenery, relatively mild and sunny winter weather, and luxuriant powder-covered slopes. In fact, many of California’s ski resorts are on par with the top resorts in Colorado and even in Europe. california 

This list ranks the best ski resorts, based on overall skiing terrain and facilities.california

The resorts are found throughout the state, with the majority in Northern California’s Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Lakes, and Yosemite.california 

Other notable mentions are in Southern California, in the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains, which are surprisingly close to Los Angeles.

California is one of the best places to visit in North America for exhilarating mountain scenery and downhill skiing.california

Before planning your winter vacation, weekend getaway, or day trip on the slopes, use our list to discover the top ski resorts in California. california 

Changes for the 2020 – 2021 Ski Season: Due to health and safety concerns, guests are required to wear face coverings to access the mountains, as well as on chairlifts and gondolas. Most resorts also require tickets purchased in advance and/or reservations. Check resort websites regularly for unscheduled closures and policy changes.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

In Northern California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, overlooking the glistening emerald-blue Lake Tahoe, this premier resort boasts some of the longest ski runs in North America. california 

Squaw Valley hosted the 1960 Olympic Winter Games and since then has been known for its advanced terrain and excellent ski conditions.california

With an average of more than 300 sunny days a year, Lake Tahoe is one of the best places in California for a ski vacation.california

Plus plenty of powder snow blankets the expansive slopes, usually at least 450 inches in the winter season.california

A ticket to Squaw Valley also includes entry to the neighboring Alpine Meadows ski resort, which is just a 15-minute shuttle bus ride away. Together, these two ski areas include more than 6,000 acres of skiable terrain and 270 runs accessed by 42 lifts. california

Skiers of all abilities will find enough runs to suit their skills without having to repeat any trails. california

Intermediate trails represent the majority of runs, with 43 percent of slopes at both resorts rated as blue runs, while 25 percent of the runs are green (ideal for beginners), and 32 percent of the runs are black diamonds that only experts can handle.california

Another highlight is the Village at Squaw Valley with its first-rate restaurants and lodging options. california

Steps away from the ski lifts, the Squaw Valley Lodge is the place for a luxurious overnight stay.california

The drive to Squaw Valley takes about three hours and 30 minutes from San Francisco if weather and traffic conditions are favorable.california

2020 – 2021 Ski Season: Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is limiting the number of guests allowed to access the slopes each day. california

For social distancing purposes, the resort has eliminated “walk-up” tickets. Lift tickets must be purchased in advance; availability is based on resort capacity. Season passes (sold online) will provide the same resort access as usual.california

Official site: http://squawalpine.comcalifornia

2. Heavenly Ski Resort california

Heavenly Ski Resort
Heavenly Ski Resort

As breathtakingly beautiful as the name suggests, Heavenly is one of the most scenic ski areas in California.california

About a three- to four-hour drive from San Francisco, Heavenly features 34 miles of groomed trails covering 4,800 skiable acres, making it the largest ski resort in the Lake Tahoe area.california

Located at the border of California and Nevada, at elevations reaching up to 10,067 feet (with seasonal snowfall averaging 360 inches), the resort overlooks the crystalline waters of Lake Tahoe surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Heavenly’s magnificent views are as much an attraction as the fantastic powder-coated slopes.california

Surrounded by refreshing pine forests, the extensive, wide-open ski slopes include 97 runs accessed by 28 chairlifts.california

Many of the trails are lengthy runs extending as much as 3,500 vertical feet. snowboard 

Heavenly has runs for skiers of all abilities, including a good variety of intermediate slopes, and also features classes for those learning how to ski. Expert snowboard  skiers head to the resort’s epic double-black diamonds that feature snowboard  impressive 1,600-foot chutes. For adventurous freestyle skiers, Heavenly’s two challenging terrain parks are a big draw. snowboard 

2020 – 2021 Ski Season snowboard : To manage crowds at the resort, Heavenly is limiting the number of lift tickets sold each day. Lift tickets must be purchased online or by phone.

 snowboard (It is recommended to buy tickets ahead of arrival.) Season pass holders are required to make reservations and are given priority access. snowboard  

Official site: https://www.skiheavenly.com snowboard 

3. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area california

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

About a five-hour and 30-minute drive from best Los Angeles, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in the Eastern Sierra boasts outstanding skiing and snowboarding opportunities. The gorgeous setting in the best Sierra National Forest, plentiful sunshine, and best perfect powdery conditions make Mammoth a desirable ski destination.best 

With a peak more than 11,000 feet in elevation best and abundant annual snowfall (averaging 400 inches per year), Mammoth isbest one of the first ski areas to open every year. best 

The season often extends at least until May and sometimes all the way until the 4th of July. Another bonus for best visitors, the Mammoth Lakes area has many lodging options and top-notch restaurants. best 

Mammoth Mountain is one of the largest ski areas in best California, with three base lodges, over 3,500 acres of skiable terrain, best  and 25 lifts that provide access to 150 trails.

Mammoth Mountain is a great choice for advanced skiers, since more than 30 percent of the runs are considered expert and advanced. However, intermediate skiers will find plenty of suitable runs (40 percent of the trails). Beginners can take advantage of Mammoth’s private or group ski lessons.

Daring freestyle skiers appreciate Mammoth Mountain for its Unbound Terrain Parks. The resort boasts seven terrain parks spread out over 100 acres, featuring challenging halfpipes, as well as dozens of jib lines and opportunities for over 50 different jumps.

2020 – 2021 Ski Season: To manage crowds, Mammoth Mountain is reducing its overall resort capacity. snowboarding 

Lift tickets must be purchased online or by phone and then retrieved at a resort ticket office; same-day purchase is possible, space permitting. Season passes may be purchased in advance online. snowboarding 

Official site: https://www.mammothmountain.com/winter snowboarding 

4. Northstar California mountain ski area snowboard 

Northstar California
Northstar California

Northstar California is the most family-friendly ski resort in Lake Tahoe, thanks to its kids’ activities, ski school, and a wide offering of well-groomed trails. snowboarding 

Adding to the enjoyment, many of the runs have lovely views and traverse pristine pine forests. snowboarding 

The ski resort covers 3,170 acres, with 100 runs that are accessed by 20 chairlifts. snowboarding 

The majority (60 percent) of the runs are intermediate, 13 percent are beginner runs, and 27 percent are advanced. The longest run stretches for 1.4 miles. snowboarding 

Blessed with sunny weather and abundant seasonal snowfall, the ski slopes at Northstar are usually blanketed with fluffy powder snow. snowboarding 

At times when snowfall is light, the resort uses snowmaking machines to improve the conditions. snowboarding 

A major attraction of Northstar is its alpine-style village at the base of the slopes. snowboarding 

The village is convenient for shopping, dining, and lodging, with its extensive selection of restaurants and hotels ranging from casual to upscale. snowboarding 

2020 — 2021 Ski Season: Only a limited number of guests will be allowed access to the Northstar California resort each day. snowboarding 

Lift tickets must be purchased in advance (online or by phone) place and then retrieved at a ticket window; daily quantities of lift tickets will be limited and may sell out. Season pass holders must make reservations and are given priority access.place 

Official site: https://www.northstarcalifornia.com great 

5. Kirkwood Ski Resort snowboarding 

Kirkwood Ski Resort
Kirkwood Ski Resort

Kirkwood has a different, more remote feel great since it’s farther away from the hubbub of Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe than the other Tahoe resorts. Perched on the Sierra Crest peak, this picturesque 2,300-acre resort is appreciated for its peaceful, unspoiled alpine scenery and challenging, diverse terrain.snowboarders 

Among the Lake Tahoe ski resorts, Kirkwood has some of the finest powder-snow conditions.snowboarders

Because of the high elevation (7,800 to 9,800 feet), the snowfall here is more plentiful and drier, which allows for better control while skiing even on the steepest runs.snowboarders 

Kirkwood is best suited for experienced skiers, who are able to take on the resort’s legendary black diamonds.snowboarders

More than half of the resort’s 86 runs (accessible by 15 lifts) are advanced (38 percent) and expert (20 percent), and top even the intermediate runs (30 percent) are slightly more top difficult here than other resorts’ typical intermediate runs.

Only 12 percent of the runs at Kirkwood are rated beginning level. The longest run extends for 2.5 miles along tranquil forest-clad glades.

2020 — 2021 Ski Season: Kirkwood is reducing its overall resort capacity on a daily basis. Lift tickets must be purchased in advance (online or by phone) and will be limited on days of high demand. Season pass holders are given priority access, however reservations are required to access the mountain.

Official site: https://www.kirkwood.com

6. Sugar Bowl Resort snowboarders

Sugar Bowl Resort
Sugar Bowl Resort

Quaint and small-scale top in feel, this historic ski resort is loved for its charming ambience and wonderful powdery slopes. True to its name, Sugar Bowl holds the claim top to the most snowfall (an annual average of 500 inches) of any resort in the Lake Tahoe area.

The resort is also the closest top Tahoe ski area to San Francisco, only a three-hour drive away if traffic and weather permit. Plus there’s parking right near the slopes, which top makes it an easy day trip.

Those staying overnight will feel top pampered at Sugar Bowl’s old-fashioned European-style lodge that top features ski-in, ski-out accommodations and a fine-dining top restaurant that serves gourmet cuisine in an elegant setting.

Steps away from the lodge places are the ski slopes, nestled into the side of the mountain. The 1,650-acre ski area is sheltered from the wind, which makes for a pleasant ski places experience. The runs cover four mountain peaks of Donner Summit, winding places through spacious glades that are surrounded by dense pine forests, with places spectacular mountain views at every turn.good

With 12 lifts that provide access to 100 trails, Sugar Bowl has slopes for all ability levels. Most (45 percent) of the runs are intermediate level, while 38 percent are advanced runs and 17 percent are beginner “bunny hills.” Group lessons and private lessons are available for adults and children learning how to ski.best places

2020 — 2021 Ski Season: Sugar Bowl is limiting the number of lift tickets sold on a daily basis. top places

Lift tickets must be purchased in advance online. The resort is also reducing the number of season passes made available for sale. california’s best

Season pass holders will have unlimited access, unless the resort implements a reservation system if crowd management becomes an issue. The situation will be assessed as the season progresses.california’s best

Official site: http://www.sugarbowl.com/

7. Big Bear Mountain Resort  places

Big Bear Mountain Resort
Big Bear Mountain Resort

Big Bear Mountain Resort is in Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains, one of the few ski areas in California not found in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.snowboarding in california 

The San Bernardino Mountains reach higher than 8,000 feet in elevation, high enough to get outstanding snowfall so close to the Pacific Ocean, only a two-hour drive (100 miles) from Los Angeles if traffic allows. places to snowboard

Big Bear Mountain Resort at Big Bear Lake includes two major ski areas (one entry ticket is valid at both): Bear Mountain, with 748 acres of skiable terrain, and Snow Summit, with 240 skiable acres. best california snowboarding

Known for its state-of-the-art facilities, Bear Mountain resort has 15 trails accessed by eight lifts.great place

Most of the runs are intermediate (55 percent) and areas beginner (15 percent). Bear Mountain is also famous for its snowboarding terrain parks (14 in total), which rank areas among the top 10 in North America.  where 

The family-friendly Snow Summit resort where has even more intermediate trails; more than 60 percent of the resort’s 27 trails are blue runs rated for mid-level skiing ability. The resort has six terrain parks, which are rated among the best in California.

Both Bear Mountain and Snow Summit offer ski lessons taught by certified professionals. Bear Mountain has the largest area in Southern California, dedicated to ski and snowboarding classes. lift ticket prices

2020 — 2021 Ski Season: Big Bear Mountain Resort is offering a 20 percent discount on advance-purchased lift tickets.day lift ticket

The discount applies when tickets are purchased at least 72 hours in advance for non-holiday dates or 14 days in advance for holiday dates. Season passes are also available. full day lift

Official site: https://www.bigbearmountainresort.com/winter

8. Badger Pass Ski Area bear mountain resorts 

Badger Pass Ski Area
Badger Pass Ski Area

2020 – 2021 Ski Season: Badger Pass Ski Area will be closed for the 2020 – 2021 season.bear mountain resorts

The closure applies to both downhill and cross-country ski operations. Refunds will be provided to season pass holders. shasta ski park 

California’s oldest ski resort is surrounded by some of the most stunning scenery in the Central Sierra mountain range, near the world-famous attractions of Yosemite National Park. heavenly ski resort

About a four-hour drive from San Francisco, Badger Pass Ski Area is less crowded and more affordable than many of the Tahoe ski resorts. Families with kids will find this resort is easy to manage and stress-free. mountain ski area 

This ski area includes downhill (alpine) ski slopes, as well as terrain reserved for cross-country skiing, snow tubing, and snowshoeing.

9. Mt. Shasta Ski Park shasta ski park 

Mt. Shasta Ski Park
Mt. Shasta Ski Park

A snow-capped volcanic peak that soars to 7,500 feet, Mount Shasta is a truly awe-inspiring sight in Northern California.

The Mt. Shasta Ski Park is found at the foot of this legendary peak (with a base elevation of 5,500 feet), in between the cities of Mount Shasta and McCloud. mountain ski resort 

Most of the hotels, lodges, and restaurants are in the town of Mount Shasta, but the nearby towns of McCloud and Dunsmuir also have a good selection of lodging and dining options.squaw valley resort

Mt. Shasta Ski Park encompasses 425 acres of skiable terrain with 32 downhill ski trails. Most of the runs are intermediate (55 percent) with the remaining 20 percent beginner and 25 percent advanced level. The longest run extends for 1.75 miles. ski resort 

Cross-country skiers will also enjoy the many scenic trails. ski resort 

Adventurous snowboarders love the terrain parks: Silvertip Terrain Park for beginners and intermediate-level riders, and the more advanced Revolution Terrain Park.

For seasoned skiers, one of ski the most interesting things to do at Mt. Shasta Ski Park is backcountry skiing in the off-trail area (hiring a guide is recommended). Skiers may ski book overnight accommodations in the off-trail area at one of the Backcountry Cabins, rustic accommodations with basic amenities, including ski  bunk beds and a wood-burning stove.

2020 – 2021 Ski Season: Mt. Shasta Ski Park is offering discounts on advance-purchased lift tickets and ski  season passes as usual. This year, the resort has expanded its “Pass Protection Program” for season passes, in case of limited operations. Passholders will be given rollover credits if they are unable to ski the guaranteed minimum of 60 days in a season.

Official site: https://www.skipark.com

10. Mt Baldy Resort heavenly ski resort

Mt Baldy Resort
Mt Baldy Resort

Mt Baldy is the closest ski resort to the Los Angeles metropolitan area (50 miles away), just a one-hour drive if ski traffic permits. A favorite among expert skiers, Mt Baldy is predominantly covered with advanced-level black-diamond and double-black-diamond runs.

There are only a handful of beginner and intermediate trails at Mt Baldy Resort. However, the resort does have ski a Learning Center that provides ski lessons to children and adults.ski 

2020 – 2021 Ski Season: Mt Baldy Resort ski  season passes may be purchased in advance online. A season pass allows ski for unlimited access to the mountain, from the start of alpine conditions ski (snowy slopes) until April 30th, 2021.

Official site: https://mtbaldyresort.com/

11. Mountain High mountain ski resort 

Mountain High
Mountain High | stephane333 / photo modified

About a ski 1.5-hour drive (80 miles) from Los Angeles, this award-winning resort is the most popular ski area in Southern California.ski

Mountain High ski resort is tucked away in the Big Pines ski region of the San Gabriel Mountains, part of the Angeles National Forest.

Three ski resort areas are available to skiers, with the same ski entry ticket. The ski West Resort offers a wide variety of runs, including technical trails used for contests.

The East Resort has the longest runs, jaw-dropping viewpoints of the Mojave ski  Desert, and expert slopes with challenging moguls.ski 

Well suited for families and anyone learning how to ski, North Resort features 70 acres of beginner-level runs.

The overall 290 acres of skiable terrain at Mountain High’s three resorts is serviced ski  by 11 lifts that lead to 60 trails, with 25 percent ski beginner runs, 40 percent intermediate runs, and 35 percent advanced runs.

2020 – 2021 Ski Season: Mountain High is reducing its ski  overall resort capacity by 50 percent and therefore is limiting the number of season passes ski and lift tickets made available. Guests must ski  purchase lift tickets and season passes in advance online.

Official site: http://www.mthigh.com/

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