We have updated 50 results for Best ski resorts in california

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Below are 50 results for best ski resorts in california.


Northstar California. This resort’s expansive trail system allows skiers a huge choice of diverse terrain and alpine settings, but the best views are from the top of 8,610-foot Mount Pluto. …


The best California ski resorts evaluated by PeakRankings. To produce this list, we weighted several categories, including snow, resiliency, size, terrain diversity, challenge, lift …


Photo by: Brennan Pang. Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe is California’s largest – spanning the border of California and Nevada and one of the best ski …

People also ask
  • Where are the best places to ski in California?

    The 5 Best California Ski ResortsHeavenly. Heavenly is by far the most popular resort in Lake Tahoe and it's not hard to see why. ...Squaw Valley (Palisades Tahoe) Although Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are technically separate ski areas, they are covered by the same lift ticket which means a massive 6,000 ac ...Mammoth Mountain. ...Kirkwood. ...
    Top Rated California Ski Resorts
  • What ski resorts are open in California?

    Thanks to a fresh blanket of snow across the state, California ski resorts are opening early for the winter season—for many, marking the earliest opening weekend in decades. The newly renamed Palisades Tahoe, for one, kicks off the season Friday through Sunday, with multiple lifts spinning plus specials like hot waxes and beers for ...
    These California Ski Resorts Are Open Now
  • Where is the best place to snow ski?

    Zermatt Snow Park on the Theodul Glacier, one of the highest in the Alps, is the hot spot for snowboarders and freeride skiers. The 10-person Kumme gondola to the Unterrothorn area opens in December 2020, Switzerland's first gondola to operate entirely without staff. Few places can equal the off-piste opportunities of Zermatt.
    16 Top-Rated Ski Resorts in the World, 2021
  • What are the best ski resorts near Lake Tahoe?

    The 6 Best Lake Tahoe Ski ResortsHeavenly. The largest and highest ski area in Lake Tahoe, Heavenly has great skiing and an even better après scene!Squaw Valley (Palisades Tahoe) Palisades Tahoe combines two ski areas, Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows, to be the largest ski resort in California.Kirkwood. ...Northstar California. ...Sugar Bowl Resort. ...
    The Best Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts [Updated for 2021 / 2022 ...

Northern California is famous for its vineyards but did you know that Northern California’s Lake Tahoe is also home to some of the best skiing – and best ski resorts – in the west? Head to …


Most affordable Family-Friendly Largest Highest Snowiest Best Open Value for Money . All 25 ski resorts in California ranked by number of piste kilometers or size of terrain. Palisades Tahoe …


A ski lift at the Squaw Valley Resort in the Olympic Village. Mountain High. This is one of the most popular ski resorts in Southern California and just under a 2-hour drive from Los …


Last, this resort is known for having the longest season with the best spring skiing in the Lake Tahoe area. Squaw Valley Trail Maps. Ski and Snowboard Rentals North Tahoe 2. …


However, keep in mind that Red Mountain has a bad reputation as being difficult to get to from the major airports. View RED Mountain Resort Ski Packages. 11 Best Ski …


Here's a look at five of the best family-friendly ski resorts in America. ... Mammoth Ski Area, California. 10001 Minaret Road Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546 (760) 934-2571 …


Click here to view the best California ski resorts. Our members are also located in Nevada. If you're looking to ski or snowboard in SoCal, Tahoe, or even Las Vegas, you've come to …

Top Rated California Ski Resorts - Ski And Snow Reports ...

Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains provide easy access from Los Angeles to resorts like Bear Mountain, Snow Summit and Mountain High. Farther north, the Sierra Nevada range is the most popular ski destination in California.

Find a Ski Resort in North America & Worldwide

A ski resort with terrain for all levels and closeby lodging, lots of apres ski activities and a good ski school make for great vacations on snow.

Planning a ski trip? Browse our collection of skier and snowboarder-submitted reviews for ski resorts to see which mountains claimed the top spot in each category. reviews rank ski areas on a scale of one to five stars in the following categories: Overall Rating, All-Mountain Terrain, Nightlife, Terrain Park and Family Friendly. See how your favorite ski area stacks up among the top rated in terms of skiing and après.

California has the largest population of any state in the U.S, and it may just boast the biggest personalities in the ski world. Thanks to a wide variety of terrain spread out across the state, California skiers and snowboarders often travel up to eight hours to get their fix of snow.

Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains provide easy access from Los Angeles to resorts like Bear Mountain, Snow Summit and Mountain High. Farther north, the Sierra Nevada range is the most popular ski destination in California. Mammoth Mountain in the Eastern Sierra has steeps and bowls for a variety of skill levels. Within the Sierra Nevada, the Lake Tahoe region has the most concentrated amount of ski areas in all of California. On the lake’s north side, Squaw Valley’s steeps and cliffs will suit the extreme skiers while Sugar Bowl receives enough snow to satisfy most powder hounds. On the south side Heavenly offers luxury slope side accommodations and Kirkwood provides a broad range of advanced skiing and snowboarding terrain.

Skiing in California

Is There Skiing Near Los Angeles?

The ski resorts nearest to Los Angeles include the following:

  • Mountain High
  • Mount Baldy
  • Snow Valley
  • Big Bear/Snow Summit

What California Ski Resorts Get the Most Snow?

  • Kirkwood – 500 inches
  • Sugar Bowl Resort – 500 inches

Which California Ski Resorts Are Best for Beginners?

Many California resorts have features for beginners. Some of the best, however, are the following:

  • Squaw Valley
  • Mammoth Mountain
  • Northstar at Tahoe
  • Sugar Bowl Resort

Click on any resort below to receive ski and snow reports for California resorts, or click on the other tabs for information regarding California resort stats, chairlift information, user reviews and more.

11 Top-Rated Ski Resorts in California, 2022

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. 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 ...

Written by Lisa Alexander
Updated Jan 3, 2022

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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.

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.

This list ranks the best ski resorts, based on overall skiing terrain and facilities. The resorts are found throughout the state, with the majority in Northern California's Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Lakes, and Yosemite. 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. Before planning your winter vacation, weekend getaway, or day trip on the slopes, use our list to discover the top ski resorts in California.

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

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

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

A ticket to Palisades Tahoe 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.

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

Another highlight is the Village at Palisades Tahoe, with its first-rate restaurants and lodging options. Steps away from the ski lifts, the Squaw Valley Lodge is the place for a luxurious overnight stay.

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

Official site: www.palisadestahoe.com

As breathtakingly beautiful as the name suggests, Heavenly is one of the most scenic ski areas in California. About a three- to four-hour drive from San Francisco, Heavenly features 34 miles of groomed trails covering 4,630 skiable acres, making it the largest ski resort in the Lake Tahoe area.

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.

Surrounded by refreshing pine forests, the extensive, wide-open ski slopes include 97 runs accessed by 28 chairlifts. Many of the trails are lengthy runs extending as much as 3,500 vertical feet in descent. The lengthiest trail extends for five miles, which is the longest run on the West Coast.

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 skiers head to the resort's epic double-black diamonds that feature impressive 1,600-foot chutes. For adventurous freestyle skiers, Heavenly's two challenging terrain parks are a big draw.

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

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

With a peak more than 11,000 feet in elevation and abundant annual snowfall (averaging 400 inches per year), Mammoth is one of the first ski areas to open every year. The season often extends at least until May and sometimes all the way until the 4th of July. Another bonus for visitors, the Mammoth Lakes area has many lodging options and top-notch restaurants.

Mammoth Mountain is one of the largest ski areas in California, with three base lodges, over 3,500 acres of skiable terrain, and 25 lifts that provide access to 175 trails.

Mammoth Mountain is a great choice for advanced skiers, since more than 50 percent of the runs are considered expert and advanced.

Beginners can take advantage of Mammoth's Ski & Snowboard School (available at each base lodge), which offers private and group ski lessons. Each base lodge also has a Mammoth Kids school, which provides ski lessons designed for youngsters.

Daring freestyle skiers appreciate Mammoth Mountain for its Unbound Terrain Parks. The resort boasts nine terrain parks spread out over more than 1,500 acres, featuring challenging halfpipes, as well as dozens of jib lines and opportunities for over 40 different jumps.

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

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

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

Blessed with sunny weather and abundant seasonal snowfall, the ski slopes at Northstar are usually blanketed with fluffy powder snow. At times when snowfall is light, the resort uses snowmaking machines to improve the conditions.

A major attraction of Northstar is its alpine-style village at the base of the slopes. The village is convenient for shopping, dining, and lodging, with its extensive selection of restaurants and hotels ranging from casual to upscale.

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

Kirkwood has a different, more remote feel 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.

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

Kirkwood is best suited for experienced skiers, who are able to take on the resort's legendary black diamonds. More than half of the resort's 86 runs (accessible by 15 lifts) are advanced (38 percent) and expert (20 percent), and even the intermediate runs (30 percent) are slightly more 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.

Ideal for an escape to nature, the Kirkwood area is less developed than other Lake Tahoe resorts. Many visitors appreciate the peaceful mountain atmosphere and rustic alpine architecture, although the lodging options are more limited than at the Palisades Tahoe, Northstar, and Heavenly resorts.

An excellent choice of accommodation, The Mountain Club is located right in the Kirkwood village near the ski lifts. This modern resort hotel offers ski-in, ski-out accommodations with a wide range of amenities, including a concierge, coffee shop, restaurant, parking, hot tub, sauna, steam room, and fitness center.

There are also vacation rentals in and around Kirkwood village. Visitors can choose from townhouses, condos, and cabins for short stays.

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

Quaint and small-scale 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 to the most snowfall (an annual average of 500 inches) of any resort in the Lake Tahoe area.

The resort is also the closest 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 makes it an easy day trip.

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

Steps away from the lodge 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 experience. The runs cover four mountain peaks of Donner Summit, winding through spacious glades that are surrounded by dense pine forests, with spectacular mountain views at every turn.

With 12 lifts that provide access to 103 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Known for its state-of-the-art facilities, Bear Mountain resort has 15 trails accessed by eight lifts. Most of the runs are intermediate (55 percent) and beginner (15 percent). Bear Mountain is also famous for its snowboarding terrain parks (14 in total), which rank among the top 10 in North America.

The family-friendly Snow Summit resort 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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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 1.25 miles.

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

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

For seasoned skiers, one of 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 book overnight accommodations in the off-trail area at one of the Backcountry Cabins, rustic accommodations with basic amenities, including bunk beds and a wood-burning stove.

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

Mt. Baldy is the closest ski resort to the Los Angeles metropolitan area (50 miles away), just a one-hour drive if 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 a Learning Center that provides ski lessons to children and adults.

Official site: https://mtbaldyresort.com/

About a 1.5-hour drive (80 miles) from Los Angeles, this award-winning resort is the most popular ski area in Southern California. Mountain High ski resort is tucked away in the Big Pines region of the San Gabriel Mountains, part of the Angeles National Forest.

Three ski resort areas are available to skiers, with the same entry ticket. The 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 Desert, and expert slopes with challenging moguls.

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 by 11 lifts that lead to 60 trails, with 25 percent beginner runs, 40 percent intermediate runs, and 35 percent advanced runs.

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

Best ski resorts in California

Biggest and best for nightlife. California’s biggest ski resort sprawls out across a massive 4,800 skiable acres straddling South Lake Tahoe ’s California/Nevada border, with a festive party scene and all the requisite crowds that come with it.

For those wondering whether to buy a ski pass or purchase lift tickets and renting versus buying equipment, it all comes down to how often you plan to ski. If you’re only going to be skiing once, there’s no reason to plunk down ,395 on the all-access 33-resort Ski California Gold Pass or a brand new set of pricey skis. Then again, if you plan to stick around for a while and hit a number of resorts located in close proximity to one another, you might want to look into a regional pass like the Tahoe Local Pass.

Here’s our guide to the best ski resorts in California by region and skier type.

View of Twin Lakes, Lake George, the southeastern slope of Mammoth Mountain, Mono County, eastern California, eastern Sierra Nevada, Inyo National Forest, shot from drone, summer view
Mammoth Mountain is framed by some of the most gorgeous mountain vistas in the country © Getty Images/iStockphoto

Best in Northern California

Mammoth Mountain is a truly majestic winter playground, framed by some of the most gorgeous mountain vistas in the country (if not the world). Located in the high Sierra Nevada mountains about 67 miles from Yosemite National Park, the remote area boasts an abundance of alpine lakes as well as the highest elevation of any California ski resort.

With a peak elevation of 11,053 feet, Mammoth Mountain welcomes everyone from first-timers and families to thrill-seekers and Olympic athletes like Sean White (who often trains here.) When you’ve had your fill of skiing, just get out and enjoy the nature all around or experience the endlessly charming small-town vibes of Mammoth Lakes.

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Skiing in California
Big Bear is a spot to check off your list for a great day of skiing in California © Shutterstock / Cavan Images - Offset

Best in Southern California

Located about 100 miles east of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear should please everyone in the car making the drive up (if you survive the traffic.) This longtime getaway for Angelinos should also be on the radar for visitors as well, with skiing unfolding across the twin resorts of Bear Mountain and Snow Summit.

Offering scenic views of Big Bear Lake (when the water isn’t at its current historic low levels) and a wide variety of terrain from beginner to advanced -- with its half pipes and terrain parks making it a particularly popular destination for snowboarders -- Big Bear is a spot to proudly check off your list for those looking to complete the epic SoCal combo of skiing and surfing in the same day. Only in California.

Getting to Big Bear: 100 miles east of Los Angeles via I-10 and 145 miles northeast of San Diego via I-15. Big Bear can also be accessed from Palm Springs via several 80-90 miles routes.

Lake Tahoe views
Northstar California Resort is perched on a quiet hill in North Lake Tahoe © Alberto Stocco / Shutterstock

Best for families and beginners

For a more high-end experience perfect for families and beginners, Northstar is a bit like California’s answer to Vail. Which makes sense, being that it (along with two other Tahoe resorts) is owned by international ski conglomerate Vail Resorts. Perched in a peaceful area in quieter North Lake Tahoe, Northstar offers several family-friendly amenities from its popular skating rink to romantic stargazing tours on the mountain.

The highly regarded kid’s ski school is one of the best in the state, and the après-ski options are endless in its quaint European-styled village. Stay in posh accommodations at the mountainside Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe and be sure to spend some time exploring the nearby locals-friendly town of Truckee.

Heavenly ski resort Gondolas on a sunny day
Take a lift up for massive views of Lake Tahoe from Heavenly Mountain Resort's incredible slopes © Sundry Photography / Shutterstock

Biggest and best for nightlife

California’s biggest ski resort sprawls out across a massive 4,800 skiable acres straddling South Lake Tahoe’s California/Nevada border, with a festive party scene and all the requisite crowds that come with it. A popular bachelor party destination with raucous casinos along the Nevada side and plenty of year-round debauchery, they also do a fair amount of skiing here too.

With California’s highest vertical drop at 3,812 feet, Heavenly checks all the boxes of a major ski resort with all the amenities you could ever need from A-list shopping and dining to massive views of Lake Tahoe from the slopes that simply never get old. Just try to keep up. This is gonna be a long weekend.

Getting to Heavenly: 60 miles southwest of Reno or 190 miles northeast of San Francisco via I-80.

Best for snow and expert terrain

Looking for fresh powder and smaller crowds? Head to Tahoe’s lesser-visited Kirkwood Resort, tucked away in a remote section of forest about 45 minutes south of bustling South Tahoe. With an average snowfall of 500 inches -- tied for the most in California and more than any resort in Colorado -- Kirkwood is an under-the-radar gem (although the resort has gained in popularity in recent years.) From rugged cliff jumps and steep tree runs to massive powder bowls and gnarly snowcat skiing, this isn’t for the faint of heart.

Getting to Kirkwood: 85 miles southwest of Reno via I-580 or 190 miles northeast of San Francisco via CA-88.

Best off the beaten path and budget option

If you’re looking to take a break from the corporate resorts and really get lost in the wilderness, head all the way up near the Oregon border to discover this most unique of California ski experiences. While it may not have the finest snow or the fanciest hotels, this cozy little resort more than makes up for it in eccentric characters drawn to this one-of-a-kind “spiritual vortex” at the base of the reportedly sacred Mt. Shasta.

Famous for its spectacularly life-affirming night skiing under star-blanketed skies, lift tickets are also around half of what you’d pay at the major resorts. Swoosh down the slopes with folks less interested in showing off their expensive gear or perfect slalom form and more keen to just have fun while enjoying being out in nature. Which is kind of what skiing is all about, right? 

How to get to Mt. Shasta Ski Park: 280 miles northeast of San Francisco or 370 miles south of Portland via I-5.


Big Bear Mountain Resort Another popular ski resort in the state is Big Bear. Unlike many other destinations, this resort is not located in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Instead, it’s in the San Bernardino mountains down by Southern California.


Big Bear is one of the best Southern California ski resorts and it’s only 2.5 hours from LA. Tucked in the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear is actually made up of two ski resorts: Bear Mountain and Snow Summit.


Address: 4104 Lakeshore Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150, United States. Website: The Landing Lake Tahoe Resort & Spa, South Lake Tahoe. The Landing Lake …


Another NorCal favorite, Dodge Ridge is a top affordable ski resort that has been operated by the Helm family since 1976. Today, the 800-plus acres of skiable terrain make it one of the best ski spots not only in California, but also in the entire country.


California’s higher elevations rep a notable seasonal snowfall average and enjoy big storms with large dumps. Related: The Top 15 Highest Ski Resorts in Colorado. Here’s the state’s 15 highest ski areas: *** #1 – Mammoth Mountain, 11,053 ft


California is a state where both summer and winter have intense changes. So, skiing lodges and resorts aren’t the most surprising vacation spots to see. Way up north is the …


Over the last 30 days, ski resorts in California have been available starting from , though prices have typically been closer to 1. Price estimates were calculated on October 17, 2020. See the latest prices. Prices are the average nightly price provided by our partners and may not include all taxes and fees.


Here I compiled the list of the best ski resorts which are top-ranked with the best to enjoy the icy winds and heavy snowfall. Table of Contents 1. Palisades Tahoe 2. Heavenly …


The Most Difficult California Ski Resorts. The two most difficult ski resorts in California are in the Lake Tahoe area. Palisades (formerly Squaw Valley) and Heavenly are both very steep and very big resorts with a lot of expert-level trails. Mammoth and June are only 21 miles apart, which allows you to build a very easy trip between the two.


Ride back down to dine on wild salmon or pan-roasted venison at Lakefront Restaurant. One of the best winter dining experiences is happening at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, a luxurious hotel surrounded by the slopes of Northstar California. The Chef’s Tasting Counter at Manzanita allows guests to look right into the exposition kitchen and ...


California might not be the first state you think of when it comes to skiing – what with its tropical temperatures and palm-fringed shorelines – but it in fact boasts some of the leading ski resorts in the United States.Ranging from the rustic and sprawling Mammoth Lakes to the LA local hotspot Big Bear, there are slopes to suit beginners, experts and every skill level …

Best Snow In California - Right Now and Historically ...

Snow Summit - Snow Score - 44.1. Part of Big Bear Mountain Resort in Southern California, Snow Summit receives 83 inches of snow per year, an amount that is heavily supported by one of the more powerful snow making operations in the American West.

Best Snow In California - Right Now and Historically

We track California's forecasted snowfalls across all of its ski resorts for the next 10 days as well as what has actually fallen at all of those ski mountains during the last 10 days. With that 20-day stretch of data: snow that is coming and snow that has already fallen, skiers can quickly understand where the best conditions are now and where they're going to be. For this data, see just below.

Note: During summer months, these top graphs won't have data as there is no forecasted or recent snow.

Below that, we cover what ski resorts in Califorina have the best snow historically and why. This data is imperative when planning a ski trip, assuming that snow is an input into decision making—and it should be!

This article and data were updated on January 16, 2022.

California is the most interesting of states: deserts, 14,000 foot volcanoes holding north-facing glaciers, the most giant of trees, perfect surf spots, and a giant alpine lake surrounded by a phalanx of ski resorts brimming with post-card views. Understanding how and where snow falls in this state with the most diverse of geographies isn't as hard as it sounds. The data tell the story, and all the data are below.

In general, snow in California, especially for Lake Tahoe and the Northern Sierra can be wildly capricous. It's quite normal for no snow to fall for weeks, followed by single storms that can leave behind six feet. The Rockies almost never receive snow in such large quantities at once, but they also don't experience droughts nearly as often. It's somehow fitting that California's mountains are the ultimate destination massive snow events spaced out with periods of nothing. But some mountains are more dependable for snow and conditions.

We've ranked all of them right here, using historical averages, standard deviations, latitudes, elevations and slope aspects. In most cases, the data we used for this exercise goes back 50 years. Consider this to be the best list of its kind.

In-depth descriptions on snow at each ski resort are below the table

Ski Resorts with Best Snow in California

   Resort True

Base & Top Elev.

Days w/ more
than 6 inches

Months w/ more
than 90 inches

Months w/ less
than 30 inches

North-facing Terrain

East-facing Terrain

West-facing Terrain

South-facing Terrain

California Snow Score

459" 7800'to


20.1% 44.3% 18.1% 65% 25% 10% 0% 82.7 more
354" 7953'to


14.9% 31.5% 29.0% 65% 22% 10% 3% 75.4 more
Sugar Bowl
453" 6883'to


18.8% 39.5% 21.4% 55% 15% 28% 2% 70.3 more
389" 6640'to


16.1% 34.9% 24.5% 50% 5% 30% 15% 61.4 more
385" 7200'to


16.2% 35.5% 24.0% 85% 0% 0% 15% 61.1 more
321" 6540'to


14.3% 25.8% 31.8% 60% 10% 25% 5% 60.1 more
Soda Springs
385" 6700'to


16.2% 35.5% 24.0% 75% 25% 0% 0% 60.1 more
Bear Valley
352" 6600'to


15.7% 32.5% 26.5% 55% 20% 23% 2% 60.0 more
Palisades Tahoe
369" 6200'to


15.1% 30.0% 33.2% 50% 40% 2% 8% 58.6 more
Dodge Ridge
350" 6600'to


16.0% 32.0% 30.0% 55% 40% 5% 0% 58.3 more
June Mountain
268" 7545'to


11.2% 14.4% 38.5% 65% 5% 30% 0% 56.9 more
Donner Ski Ranch
385" 7031'to


16.2% 35.5% 24.0% 0% 60% 0% 40% 56.8 more
350" 6230'to


16.0% 32.0% 30.0% 35% 50% 0% 15% 53.9 more
316" 6330'to


12.8% 25.9% 35.8% 50% 30% 20% 0% 53.8 more
China Peak
300" 7030'to


5.0% 25.0% 40.0% 55% 25% 20% 5% 49.8 more
Snow Summit
83" 7000'to


3.6% 0.0% 78.8% 70% 15% 15% 0% 44.1 more
Bear Mountain
83" 7140'to


3.6% 0.0% 78.8% 70% 20% 10% 0% 41.5 more
Mt Shasta
300" 5500'to


13.0% 20.0% 30.0% 0% 30% 20% 50% 41.0 more
Mountain High
120" 6600'to


5.6% 4.0% 69.1% 60% 20% 20% 0% 32.1 more

Kirkwood - Snow Score - 82.7

Kirkwood is the only California resort placing in the top 10 in North America for snow ranked by ZRankings. Kirkwood's spot in the Sierra makes it especially friendly to catching snowfall and keeping the stuff that has fallen. For this reason, Kirkwood should be recognized as the undisputed king of snow within the state of California. Kirkwood is part of the Tahoe region, but it's well south of Lake Tahoe itself, making it a bit harder to get to compared with ski resorts closer to the Lake and I-80. Within the Tahoe region, Kirkwood has a very high base area, at 7,800 feet, which helps protect its slopes against some of the warm bouts of weather that sweep through California. Compare that with Squaw Valley, whose base is 1,600 feet lower. Even better, 65% of Kirkwood's slopes face north, keeping its snow cold and chalky.

In addition to its high elevation for the Sierra, Kirkwood receives an average of 459" of snow per winter—and that snow comes with a lower standard deviation (it's more dependable) compared with most other California resorts. This is California, and the threat of drought persists, as 18.1% of winter months bring less than 30" of snow. But here's the kicker: 44.3% of months come with more than 90" of snow. But this being the Sierra, where four-foot storms happen almost annually, getting to 90" may only take two or three snow events. Skiers who travel to Kirkwood should know that 20.1% of winter days bring six inches of snow or more, which is an excellent powder batting average.

Mammoth's elevation and its aspects make it one of the best places in California for snow.
Mammoth's elevation and its aspects make it one of the best places in California for snow. Credit: Robson Hatsukami Morgan

Mammoth - Snow Score - 75.4

Similar to Kirkwood, Mammoth is an outlier for elevation for ski resorts in California. Its base sits at 7,953 feet, nearly 2,000 feet above many other ski resorts in the state. Mammoth is outside of the Tahoe region, further south near the town of Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite National Park. Its peak elevation of more than 11,000 feet give it excellent snow preservation characteristics. In addition, an overwhelming 65% of terrain at Mammoth faces north, shielding it from the sunny days of California. Mammoth averages 354" of snow per season, with 14.9% of days bringing six inches of snow or more, and 31.5% of months bringing 90". Like the rest of California, the weather patterns are volatile here—29% of winter months at Mammoth bring less than 30" of snow.

Sugar Bowl isn't aligned with one of the major passes—Ikon or Epic—so it's often overlooked by people skiing the northern Tahoe region, but it's a great play for powder hunters interested in avoiding crowds. Sugar Bowl is also very close to I-80, which can help skiers stay out of some of the traffic snarls on Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings. On top of all of that, it's the third best place for snow in California, and the best spot in North Lake Tahoe, the core basin of ski areas that Bay Area outdoors people flock to. When storms pass over Northern California, Sugar Bowl drinks in the snow, averaging 453" per year. Skiers can expect 18.8% of days to bring six inches of snow or more, and 39.5% of winter months bring more than 90" of snow. On the drought side, 21.4% of winter months at Sugar Bowl bring less than 30" of snow. The ski area has a 7,000-foot base, which isn't bad for North Lake Tahoe, and 55% of its terrain faces north, helping snow stay out of freeze-thaw cycles.

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The north side of Lake Tahoe is no joke when it comes to snow accumulation. Credit: Edgar Chaparro

Sierra At Tahoe - Snow Score - 61.4

Sierra at Tahoe does about average for the Tahoe area, with 389 inches of standard snowfall with a high standard deviation, which means it can be prone to longer periods without snow—but also bumper weeks and months during which frozen precipitation is measured in feet. The elevations here, 6,640 at the base at 8,852 at the top, aren't remarkable for the Sierra. The area is helped by the fact that 50$ of its terrain faces north, which keeps it out of the sun and cool into February. In spring, ski the afternoons here and let others deal with the morning freeze, assuming it went below freezing overnight, not always a guarantee in south Lake Tahoe.

Boreal - Snow Score - 61.1

Boreal is a small ski hill that faces the south side of I-80 west of the north side of Lake Tahoe. It receives 389 inches of snow during an average winter, but there's little of anything that is average in California's Sierra, where winters can be bone dry for weeks at a time followed by storms that produce snowfall that simply don't happen anywhere else in the United States. Boreal has a very low top elevation of 7,700 feet—the base area is only 500 feet below that, but nearly the entire hill faces north—85%—which gives it a good snow profile even when the sun is doing what it does during most days in the Tahoe area.

Heavenly - Snow Score - 60.1

Vail Resorts' Tahoe stalwart, which overlooks the south side of the lake, gets what is a modest (for Tahoe) average of 321 inches of snow per winter. As with all Tahoe hills, this total year to year is highly variable. More than 30% of winter months at Heavenly bring less than 30" of snow, reflecting the high snowfall standard deviation of this location. The ski area has a high peak for the Tahoe area, however, at 10,040 feet, which helps that higher snow stay in good shape when it hasn't snowed for a week or more. A healthy 60% of the mountain faces north, key to preserving snow in the California sun. There are a good number of powder days at Heavenly, with 15.7% of 24-hour periods bringing more than six inches of snow during the winter.

Soda springs is a little 200-acre hill near I-80 on the northside of Lake Tahoe. Just west of Sugar Bowl, a larger mountain, it doesn't have aton of vertical (700 feet). But it gets significant amount of snow on average—385 inches. As with most of California, Soda Springs' snow isn't always dependable. That high average consists of 150-inch years as well as those that approach 600 inches. The good news is that an impressive 75% of the resort's hills face north, so the snow that does fall can hold well in the deeper months of winter. By mid-February, however, even this north-facing terrain will degrade quickly, as the the ski hill tops out at only 7,352 feet.

Bear Valley - Snow Score - 60.0

Also known as Skyline Bear Valley since the Candian operator Skyline purchased it in 2015, it has average Sierra stats of 352 inches of annual snowfall with that very high standard deviation that bedevils precipitation in most of the state. The top of the mountain tops out at 8,500, but is helped by the north facing terrain that comprises 55% of the ski hill.

Waterpark Valley / Alpine Meadows - Squaw Valley - Snow Score - 58.6

Perhaps the best known of all Tahoe-are resorts, the erstwhile Squaw Valley, now Waterpark Valley, finds itself ranked as a middling mountain for snow in California for a couple of reasons. The primary strike against Waterpark Valley is its low base elevation of 6,200, which makes the entire lower half of the resort rough going when it's been sunny and and clear for a week or two—a circumstance that happens often in California. Luckily 50% of terrain faces north, which helps keep snowcolder. Waterpark Valley is especially susceptible to droughts, as its low base elevation is less likely to squeeze middling storms for much snow, as 33% of its months see less than 30 inches of snow. But, typicaly of California, a full 30% of the resort's winter months bring more than 90 inches of snow.

Dodge Ridge - Snow Score - 58.3

Tucked even further soutwest of Tahoe than Kirkwood, dead-center in the Sierra, Dodge Ridge has 1,600 feet of vertical and receives 350 inches of snow per season on average. That snow comes with the ever-present California caveat of wild standard deviations, which means lean years when the mountain can barely get open by New Year's, and bumper single months that will dump 250 inches in three weeks. Dodge Ridge has a relatively low base of 6,600 but is greatly helped by its north-facing terrain that comprises 55% of the resort acreage.

June Mountain - Snow Score - 56.9

June Mountain lives about 30 miles north of Mammoth Mountain in zone of the Sierra that reaches higher elevations. Like Mammoth, it was bought by Alterra in 2017. June has nearly 2,600 feet of vertical, an impressive number given the modest 500-acre footprint of the mountain. The mountain receives 268 inches of snow during a typical season, a low number compared with other California mountains, but June has a secret weapon: it's elevation, which tops out at 10,135 feet. In addition, 65% of the mountain faces north, an important trait in the high-sun environment of the Sierra.

Donner Ski Ranch - Snow Score - 56.8

The ski ranch with the memorable name has about 700 feet of vertical for skiers to enjoy. Just south of I-80, Donner Ski Ranch has no north-facing terrain, which keeps its snowpack smaller compared to other Tahoe area resort when combined with its lower elevations that don't top 8,000 feet. Donner averages 385 inches per year, but it degrades quickly because of the unfavorable aspects and elevation. The mountain can often get caught in dry spells.

Homewood - Snow Score - 56.8

The vistas at this local Tahoe mountain are spectacular. It receives 350 inches of snow to go with the views. It has that high variance, however, that is standard in the Sierra. In addition, the mountain is low, with a top elevation that falls short of 8,000 feet. With 50% of its terrain facing east, it can see freeze-thaw cycles set in even in the deepest periods of winter.

Northstar - Snow Score - 53.9

Northstar has a low base elevation and a low peak, 6,330 and 8,610, that hold down its snow potential a bit, which is why it receives less than some of the other flagship resorts in the Lake Tahoe area. Even so, this North Lake Tahoe ski mountain features 50% north-facing terrain and a lot of well-gladed trees, which help protect its slopes from degradation.

China Peak - Snow Score - 49.8

China Peak has a respectable average of 300 inches with the expected high standard deviation that its Sierra geography brings. China Peak tops out at 8,700 feet, which, for the Sierra is better than average for a small area. That vertical is forested all the way to the summit, so the powder skiing can be solid even during white-out storms, which definitely can happen at this hill that's 90 minutes from Fresno. Snow can stick around in the deep winter, as 52% of the slopes at China peak face north, a good ratio.

Snow Summit - Snow Score - 44.1

Part of Big Bear Mountain Resort in Southern California, Snow Summit receives 83 inches of snow per year, an amount that is heavily supported by one of the more powerful snow making operations in the American West. An impressive 70% of terrain faces north, almost a necessity at this latitude and a base area sitting at 7,000 feet.

Bear Mountain - Snow Score - 44.1

Very similar to Snow Summit, the base of Bear Mountain sits at 7,140 feet, and 70% of the terrain faces north, which helps the small amount of natural snow that does fall—83 inches—get preserved. The mountain has a pipe directly into Big Bear Lake for snow making, which allows it begin generously coating its slopes with man-made snow as as soon as the weather gets cold at night.

Mt. Shasta Ski Park - Snow Score - 41.0

For being on the side of a mountain that tops out at 14,179 feet, Mt. Shasta Ski Park is pretty low, with a base sitting at 5,500 feet and a top of 6,900 feet. Combined with zero terrain that faces north, this mountain can be challenged to preserve snow. That said, it gets a decent amount, with an average of 300 inches per year. That comes with the high standard deviation common to the entire state of California, something that applies even to volcanoes in the north end of the state, apparently.

Mountain High - Snow Score - 41.0

Mountain High has better terrain and gets more snow that the ski mountains to its east in the next range over in Southern California, Big Bear and Snow Summit. The difference is that Mountain High doesn't have great access to water for snowmaking, so when the natural snow is lean, and it often is, the mountain often can't get all of its terrain open. The 120 inches of natural snow is not dependable and 50-inch years are quite possible. But 60% of the terrain at this resort, which is situated at 6,600 feet, faces north, which helps snow stick around when it does fall.

Christopher Steiner is the founder of ZRankings and a New York Times Bestselling Author of two books. Follow him on Twitter


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7 Best Southern California Ski Resorts - SoCal Field Trips

02-12-2021 · With 27 trails and runs open through April, Bear Mountain is a great spot for beginners and mid-level snow skiers. Located about 2 hours from Los Angeles, Bear Mountain’s peak reaches about 8,800 feet, with a vertical drop of almost 1,700 feet. The ski resort has eight lifts. Bear Mountain is also an excellent spot for snowboarding.


Imagine being able to drive to the mountains and go skiing or play in the snow in under two hours. Well, you can here in Southern California! In fact, we have some of the best Southern California Ski Resorts in the country!

With the Pacific Ocean and beautiful beaches beckoning for fun in the sun, people may not think about hitting the slopes for a little downhill snow skiing, yet Southern California is perfect for the winter sport. With eight resorts and day spots available for snow boarding and skiing in Southern California, you don’t need to travel far for a little fun in the snow.

7 Best Southern California Ski Resorts

Bear Mountain

With 27 trails and runs open through April, Bear Mountain is a great spot for beginners and mid-level snow skiers. Located about 2 hours from Los Angeles, Bear Mountain’s peak reaches about 8,800 feet, with a vertical drop of almost 1,700 feet. The ski resort has eight lifts. Bear Mountain is also an excellent spot for snowboarding.

Best skiing in Southern California

Snow Summit

Featuring more than 18 miles of skiing covering 31 trails, Snow Summit is an outstanding getaway for experienced snow skiers. With its longest trail running about 1.25 miles, Snow Summit has a peak at about 8,200 feet with a vertical drop of around 1,000 feet. While best for snow skiing, Snow Summit, open through April, is also good for snowboarding and tubing.

Snow Valley

Offering 28 runs for skiers of all skill levels – beginners, intermediate, advanced, and expert – Snow Valley has plenty of fun for visitors, with the longest ski run about a mile long. Twelve lifts take you to the trails, with the highest peak at about 7,900 feet. Located about two hours east of Los Angeles, skiers and snow boarders can enjoy the wintry fun for about five months, from December through April. Snow Valley also offers discounts for homeschoolers, school groups and scout troops.

Skiing in Southern California

Mt. Pinos

For a true nature experience, skiing Mt. Pinos at Los Padres National Forest, near Ventura, can challenge the best of snow skiers. Offering a backcountry opportunity, Iris Point is excellent for beginners. With intermediate slopes available, experts will want to try Condor Summit Road slope, which features rugged terrain. The two-hour drive north of LA is a quick jaunt for a day of snow skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing.

Mt. Baldy

Located only 20 miles from Los Angeles, Mt. Baldy is the closest ski resort to the city. With 4,000 acres of mountain trails to explore and ski, Mt. Baldy features four lifts to the top of the trails. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced skier, Mt. Baldy has the slope for you to enjoy. If you prefer snowboarding or snow tubing, inviting trails await. 

Best ski resorts near Los Angeles

Mountain High

Downhill skiing highlights a visit to Mountain High in Wrightwood located in the Angeles National Forest. With a combination of created snow and natural snow, the ski slopes are open for fun beginning each December. With slopes challenging the best skiers, downhill enthusiasts find the quick mountain-free drive an easy destination. You can also enjoy snowboarding, tubing, and cross country skiing at Mountain High.

Mt. Waterman

Located in Angeles National Forest, Mt. Waterman typically begins its season in January, because the staff relies on Mother Nature to provide the snow. With 28 runs, the slopes offer downhill skiing for beginning skiers, as well as intermediate and advanced skiers. As a day-only attraction, Mt. Waterman also features snowboard and snowshoe trails.

Best Southern California snowboarding resorts

While sun and warm temperatures highlight life in Southern California, you needn’t worry about not seeing snow, since it’s only about two hours away at the max. Downhill skiing resorts and day slopes offer an outing in the cold and snow.

Happy Field Tripping!



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6 Best Ski Resorts In Southern California

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Most people envision sunshine and beaches when they think of Southern California. Or movie stars walking the star-studded streets of Hollywood. What about sports? Surfing and skateboarding come to mind, right? What about snow? Many people do not realize that it snows in Southern California. In fact, some of the best ski slopes can be found not far from Los Angeles.

Skiing and snowboarding in Southern California are some of the best in the nation. The Los Angeles basin is surrounded on three sides by mountain ranges, with peaks reaching nearly 9,000 feet. One of the best things about having lived in Southern California is that you can be at the beach in the morning and be high on a mountaintop by lunchtime.

All the ski resorts listed here are within 100 miles of downtown Los Angeles and 150 miles from San Diego, with the exception of Mammoth Mountain, which is just over 300 and 400 miles, respectively.

Night time at Snow Summit in Big Bear Lake, California.

Eugene Domejes / Shutterstock

Snow Summit, Big Bear Lake

Nestled in the heart of the San Bernardino National Forest, Snow Summit Resort sits at a base level elevation of 7,000 feet with a top elevation of 8,200 feet, with an average of 100 inches of annual snowfall. The top elevation gives skiers and riders access to 1,200 feet of vertical drop. The resort has over 240 acres of terrain with 18 skiable miles for all ability levels.

The area’s 27 trails are serviced by 11 chairlifts and 5 moving carpets. The trails are suitable for all skill levels, including 10 percent for beginners, 65 percent for low-intermediate and intermediate, and 25 percent for advanced. If you’re ready to try more advanced or freestyle skiing, one lift ticket provides access to both Snow Summit and Bear Mountain.

Other Activities

On-mountain activities include Grizzly Ridge Tube Park. A magic carpet takes tubers to the top of the 300-foot tubing lanes.

Bear Mountain, Big Bear Lake

Bear Mountain Resort is the sister resort of Snow Summit (about 3 miles away), offering its own appeal to Southern California skiers and snowboarders. It is highly regarded as one of the most innovative snow parks in the snow sports industry.

The resort’s 14 terrain parks boast Southern California’s only halfpipes. These parks, along with nearly 200 skiable acres, are why Bear is a favorite of top-notch freestyle skiers and snowboarders alike.

Bear has a peak elevation of 8,805 feet with a vertical drop of 1,665 feet. The terrain parks, plus 14 trails (map), are serviced by 8 chairlifts and 4 moving carpets. With 100 inches of annual snowfall plus a state-of-the-art snowmaking system and constant grooming, this resort has one of the longest ski seasons.

Note: Bear Mountain’s terrain is not the best choice for beginners, traditional (old-fashioned) downhill skiers, or families.

Other Activities

Shop for gear, forgotten items, and resort souvenirs at both Snow Summit and Bear Resorts, as well as at the Big Bear Mountain Resort shop in nearby Big Bear Lake.

Both Big Bear Mountain Resorts offer a variety of dining options. You’ll find restaurants, snack shops, and bars in the base area, on the top of the mountain, or on the hill.

Where To Stay

Skiers and snowboarders headed to Big Bear Resorts will find everything they need in Big Bear Lake Village, including lodging, dining, shopping, and other activities.

Snow Valley Resort in Running Springs, California.

Frederick James Whitner / Shutterstock

Snow Valley Resort, Running Springs

From the best beginner terrain in the region to the steep slopes of Slide Peak, elevation 7,841 feet, Snow Valley Resort has something for all ages and skiing ability levels during the winter. It is easy to get to, just 85 miles from Los Angeles, on the western slopes of the San Bernardino Mountains.

Snow Valley’s 240 skiable acres offer long-cruising intermediate trails, three terrain parks for all snowboarding ability levels, black-diamond trails for the more advanced, and double-black-diamond trails for experts only. See Snow Valley’s trail map here.

Southern California’s first and only high-speed 6-seat detachable chair lift can be found at Snow Valley, along with a beginners-only area with two dedicated lifts and the only snow sledding area serviced with its own chairlift.

Other Activities

Snow Valley has a great sledding area open every day. Note that the chairlift only operates Friday through Sunday, plus holidays. Snow Valley’s award-winning Learning Centers offer lessons for all ability levels and ages.

Where To Stay

There are several lodging choices in Running Springs (5.7 miles) as well as other surrounding mountain villages. The closest restaurants to the slopes can be found in Running Springs.

Mount Baldy Resort

Mount Baldy is the closest ski resort to Los Angeles, only 45 miles away, making it a perfect day-trip destination. Baldy has one of the most unusual resort layouts, and I think it is one of Southern California’s most laid-back and fun-filled resorts.

From the parking lot, visitors will take a 20-minute ride on the Sugar Pine Chairlift to the Top Notch Recreation area at 7,800 feet. Boasting the most spectacular views overlooking Los Angeles all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The view alone is worth the drive.

At the Top Notch area, there are 3 chairlifts providing access to over 800 acres of skiable and rideable terrain, including the most vertical drop in Southern California, at 2,100 feet. Skiers and riders of all skill levels will enjoy the traditional runs, open bowls, chutes, and tree runs that Mount Baldy has to offer. Resort and trail map here.

Other Activities

A 3-hour day pass provides a scenic ride on the Sugar Pine Chairlift to the Top Notch Recreation area, where visitors can enjoy snow tubing, zip lines, and the Top of the Notch Restaurant.

Where To Stay

The Los Angeles basin is within minutes of Mount Baldy Resort, where there is a plethora of lodging and dining options.

Mountain High Resort in Wrightwood, California.

Steven Dillon / Shutterstock

Mountain High Resort, Wrightwood

Mountain High is the second closest ski resort to Los Angeles (80 miles). You won’t find an easier drive to the mountains anywhere. Mountain High was my favorite growing up. It was only 45 minutes from my house in the Mojave Desert. On a clear winter’s night, the hillside would light up for night skiing. It was a beautiful sight.

Mountain High actually has three separate mountains. They are only a mile apart, but they offer distinct differences in terrain and atmosphere. You can ski or board at all three resorts with one lift ticket. See trail maps here.

Mountain High’s North Resort offers 70 acres of lower-level trails perfect for beginners, families, and the mature-aged skier.

The East Resort offers traditional skiers and snowboarders a true alpine experience. It boasts long trails that are serviced by a single high-speed quad-chair lift. It is known for its groomed runs, gladed tree skiing areas, and with its 8,200-foot peak, it offers the most breathtaking views.

The West Resort is the most popular of the three. It has beginner to advanced terrain plus a world-class terrain park. It is also Southern California’s only local resort open nightly from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. during peak season.

Other Activities

Open 4 days a week, snow play activities such as tubing, sledding, and scenic chairlift rides are available at Mountain High’s own Yeti’s Snow Play.

There are nine different dining options throughout the resort’s three areas. Bullwheel Grill at the West Resort offers a cozy fireplace, while the East Resort has mountaintop dining at the Grand View Lodge.

Where To Stay

For an extended stay, you’ll find a range of lodging and dining available in the town of Wrightwood, less than 4 miles from the ski resort.

Mammoth Mountain Resort, Mammoth Lakes

At 11,053 feet, Mammoth Mountain boasts the highest summit of any California resort, making for deeper, better snow and breathtaking scenic views. The resort has 3,500 skiable acres, an average of 400 inches of snowfall, and 300 days of sunshine per year. Because of the elevation, the ski season here typically stretches from November to June.

Mammoth is known for some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the nation. It has seven different and unique terrain parks with 3 halfpipes, 100 jibs, and 50 jumps. It’s no wonder pros like Shaun White and Chloe Kim love Mammoth.

Mammoth Mountain Resort is just over 300 miles from both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Once you arrive, you can park your vehicle and take advantage of the free shuttle buses that run throughout Mammoth Lakes and The Village.

Other Activities

Mammoth has winter activities that no other Southern California ski resort has. Tubing, of course, but they also offer cross-country skiing, back-country tours, snowmobile riding, and scenic gondola rides that transport visitors to the summit, where you’ll be stunned with the 360-degree views.

Where To Stay

Mammoth has a wide collection of lodging and dining venues. Everything from luxury cabin rentals to several lodges and inns, even an RV park. Many offer stay-and-ski packages.

Pro Tips

Always check the weather and ski conditions in the Southern California mountains. While it may be warm in Los Angeles, mountaintops elevations can be quite a bit colder. All the resorts listed have current weather and ski conditions on their websites.

Check road conditions before heading up into the mountains. Check CalTrans for road closures and check tire chain requirements here.

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