Both the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and the San Bernardino Mountain Range provide California with some of the best ski slopes in the United States. Most of California’s ski resorts are based on the north around Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park and Mammoth Lakes, but in the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains to the south you can easily combine your ski trip with a beach vacation. California is one of the few places in the world where you can travel from beach to ski slope in under 2 hours by car. From simple and scenic to Olympic-sized, here are our favorite ski resorts in California.
A host of the 1960 Olympic Winter Games that provides skiers with a magnificent panorama of Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley offers enough variety to keep both beginners and pros entertained. Known for its advanced terrain and diverse range of black diamond slopes, Squaw Valley is right next to Alpine Meadows, accessible by shuttle bus, giving visitors easy access to a total of 270 runs. Almost three-quarters of the slopes are green and blue for beginners and intermediates.
This is one of the most popular ski resorts in Southern California and just under a 2-hour drive from Los Angeles. Deep within the Big Pines Region of the San Gabriel Mountains, Mountain High offers startling views over the Mojave Desert. Mountain High is actually composed of 3 resorts, all accessible with the same ticket. There are just under 60 runs in total, serviced by 16 ski lifts.
This is the ideal resort for intermediate skiers who like to take it easy. While the Northstar resort also offers excellent advanced terrain, some of the intermediate runs are close to a mile long. It is quieter than some of the bigger resorts and, although it is at a lower altitude, it is well-sheltered and the slopes are rarely closed.
This charming ski resort has a surprising number of runs and gets the most snowfall in the Lake Tahoe area. The resort is just a 3-hour drive from San Francisco, on the Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is one of the oldest ski resorts in California and though it has advanced terrain and superb facilities, it retains a small-scale vibe.
Big Bear Mountain
Another great ski resort in Southern California, Big Bear Mountain Resort is set high in the San Bernardino Mountains and has an even mix of beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain spread over 32 runs. It is also close to the Snow Summit Resort which has great resources for children, making this whole area a firm favorite with families.
Head to the Eastern Sierra for this top-notch resort that boasts more than 150 trails with an array of challenging black diamond slopes for pros. For those who like to go off-slope, the park offers some of California’s best terrain for freestyle skiing. With its high altitude, the season here is long and the snow falls hard – sometimes the resort remains open until July! The resort is part of the wider Mammoth Mountain Ski Area that also includes June Mountain, a quieter resort with family-friendly terrain.
As its name suggests, Heavenly Mountain Resort offers some of the most scenic skiing in California. With open panoramas over Lake Tahoe and the surrounding peaks, the site’s 97 slopes are breathtakingly beautiful. Heavenly Mountain is the largest ski resort in California and the runs are incredibly long here, giving you time to cruise and take in the extraordinary scenery! While much of the ski area is suitable for beginners and intermediates, there are two parks that offer enthralling freestyle terrain.