Home to some of the top-rated ski resorts in the United States, California provides snowboarders and skiers with over two dozen locations to choose from. Spread across the state, you can easily hit the slopes while visiting famous cities like San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento. Boasting plenty of snow, visitors can also enjoy cross-country and back-country skiing.
California Ski Areas by City
Situated a few hours from some of the Golden States’ best-known cities, you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to ski resorts. Depending on what type of skier or snowboarder you are, as well as who you’re traveling with, there are numerous options for riders of all experiences. If you plan a CA ski trip near one of these major cities, you’re sure to have a good time.
Other Featured Resorts in CA
Guide to California’s 34 Ski Resorts
California’s 30+ public downhill ski resorts prove the state isn’t just beaches and palm trees. Some California ski resorts have intense vertical drops and more than 100 trails, while others are simpler with gentle terrain and rope tows.
The resorts are spread across the state from the south just east of Los Angeles to the northern edge near Oregon. These mountainous areas can receive more than 500 inches of snow each year, with resorts getting an average of 400 inches annually.
The Sierra Nevada Mountains are the highest, extending along the eastern edge of the state. However, there are plenty of other ranges in California keeping skiing within driving distance for nearly everyone.
Lake Tahoe’s Cali Ski Areas
The area surrounding Lake Tahoe has the highest concentration of ski resorts in the state; nearly half are located in this vicinity. Most of these are massive and steep, but a surprising number are more intimate with plenty of slopes for families and beginners. The ski season generally runs from late November into April or May, with some resorts seeing snow in the early summer months.
- Boreal Mountain Resort
- Donner Ski Ranch
- Granlibakken Ski & Sled Hill
- Heavenly Mountain Resort
- Homewood Mountain Resort
- Kingvale Resort
- Kirkwood Mountain Resort
- Northstar California Ski Resort
- Palisades Tahoe
- Soda Springs Mountain Resort
- Sugar Bowl Resort
- Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort
Southern Cali’s Ski Areas
Snowboard and surf on the same day at half a dozen Southern California ski areas. Most are targeted toward beginning skiers, but resorts like Mountain High and Big Bear are multiple resorts in one giving skiers more variety and acreage to explore. Not all resorts and trails in southern California have snow-making abilities, so opening days and hours aren’t always consistent.
- Alta Sierra Resort
- Big Bear Mountain Resort (combining Bear Mountain and Snow Summit Resorts)
- Mountain High Resort
- Mt Baldy Resort
- Snow Valley Mountain Resort
- Mt Waterman Ski Lifts
The Mid- and Northern Cali Ski Areas
The middle of California has the state’s highest peaks for skiing. At Mammoth and June Mountains, visitors can ski or snowboard at more than 10,000 feet. While Mammoth is appropriately massive, the others have a dozen or fewer lifts and some only have a handful of runs. Coppervale Ski Area is about as rustic as it gets, with a tow line, a J-bar, and accepting cash only.
- China Peak Mountain Resort
- Bear Valley Resort
- Dodge Ridge Mountain Resort
- June Mountain
- Mammoth Mountain
- Badger Pass Ski Area
- Cedar Pass Ski Area
- Mt. Shasta Ski Park
- Coppervale Ski Area
The top ski resorts in the state have plenty for every type of skier or snowboarder with terrain parks and plenty of runs for all levels. One of the most popular, Heavenly Mountain Resort, straddles the Nevada border with unmatched views overlooking the lake. Some of the most incredible views are best seen via chairlift or gondola. It’s the largest single resort in the state, covering 4,800 acres of skiable terrain, and has the state’s longest ski run at 5.5 miles.
Nearby, Northstar is most notable for being built on an extinct volcano. It caters primarily to families, however, that doesn’t mean it’s all easy terrain. Of the resorts’ 100 trails, a whopping 60 percent are intermediate and 27 percent are advanced. Its eight terrain parks consistently place it among the top in the country.
Mt. Baldy Resort in the Angeles National Forest has massive vertical drops, though the ski area is small with 26 trails and four lifts. Its location – an hour from Los Angeles – makes Mt. Baldy a great option for a half-day adventure but also means a shorter season, sometimes not opening until January. The resort has snowmaking capability on its lower runs but relies upon the average of 14 feet per season to keep the higher runs operational.
Mammoth Mountain is two and a half hours south of Lake Tahoe yet is on par with the other massive resorts in that area. Mammoth has 25 lifts and 163 slopes on 3,499 acres of skiable terrain, keeping it among the top skiing destinations in the state. The fresh snow is consistent throughout the season and the town boasts 300 days of sunshine each year. Mammoth Lakes, just below, has plenty of accommodations, dining, and activities for all ages.
Palisades Tahoe has undergone many changes over the past decade. The resort, formerly known as Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, brings together two separate ski areas: Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows. Each is accessible by one lift ticket, but their only physical connection is by free shuttle or gondola currently under construction. The two mountains collectively comprise 6,400 skiable acres and 245 trails.
This home of the 1960 Winter Olympics is surrounded by alpine scenery with views of Lake Tahoe below.
Along with the high number of ski resorts in the state, California has several dozen areas for cross-country skiing that are incorporated with downhill ski resorts, as trails in state parks or through specialized Nordic resorts. There are also plenty of snow parks designed for other winter activities like snow tubing and sledding. With all of the mountain ranges in the state, California is an excellent destination for skiing and snowboarding.