California’s Best Ski Resort Destinations

Chances are when you think of California, you picture palm trees, ocean breezes, and sandy beaches. What you likely don’t think of is snow and ice and some of the top skiing destinations in the country. However, while California is best known for its hot weather and great surf, many would be surprised to know that the Golden State has some incredible getaways for those looking to ski or snowboard.

Only a few hours drive from some of California’s biggest cities sits ski areas complete with great powder, incredible resorts, and leagues of experienced skiers and boarders hitting the slopes. Mountain ranges like the Sierra Nevada offer incredible settings for winter exploration, and the hot year-round temperatures of the rest of the state don’t carry over to California’s skiing options.

Let’s look at some of the ski destinations in California with the best resort and alpine skiing opportunities.

Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake is a small town in Southern California with a permanent population of just over 5,000. Big Bear is just under a two-hour drive from Los Angeles. In the spring and summer months, Big Bear is known for the great fishing opportunities, the winding hiking trails, and the close-by forest that surrounds it. However, from the end of November to March and April, Big Bear Lake is known for its stunning Big Bear Mountain Resort.

Big Bear Mountain Resort encompasses two areas, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain. Bear Mountain is typically filled with young thrill-seekers seeking major airtime at one of the area’s terrain parks. While still having a terrain park and 20 different runs, Snow Summit is more of a family destination but is still a thrilling ski getaway.

Big Bear Mountain Resort doesn’t offer any lodging properties. Still, there are numerous great hotels, motels, and cabins in the area that can accommodate a friend group or family of any size. Big Bear Mountain Resort also has some great après-ski spots where resort goers can warm up after a long day on the slopes, including bars, restaurants, and speakeasies.

Mere miles from Los Angeles and San Diego, Big Bear Lake gives tourists a rare opportunity to spend time on the ocean at a beach and a mountain ski resort, all within the same day.


Mammoth Mountain

In Northern California, near the Nevada border, lies Mammoth Mountain. Located on the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range between San Francisco and Nevada, the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area is famous across the country for its incredible skiing conditions and gorgeous views.

In the summer season, Mammoth Mountain is an outdoor activity hub with camping, hiking, and other nature-based adventure activities. In the winter, it has the highest lift-served summit in California at over 11,000 feet and is known for some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the United States.

Mammoth Mountain is a massive area that receives a huge number of tourists every year, and it has a significant supply of lodging options to accommodate that huge demand. Mammoth Mountain is home to properties like The Village Lodge, the area’s most popular all-access hotel in the heart of the commercial area, and the Tamarack Lodge, a rustic and private retreat.


Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is an ancient lake situated right on the border of California and Nevada with sapphire blue waters and mountain ranges perfect for bombing down steep hills. Lake Tahoe is a massive tourist destination year-round due to its stunning natural beauty and luxury accommodations. It is a popular seasonal retreat for America’s wealthiest and happens to have some of the best skiing in the entire country.

If you’re looking to ski somewhere with incredible scenery, you’re not likely to find many places more beautiful to ski than in Lake Tahoe, and the resort options are incredible. There are multiple resorts in the area that offer great lodging options, seasonal passes, and incredible ski-based experiences.

Heavenly Lake Tahoe is one of the best-known resorts in the area, featuring nine high-speed lifts, 97 trails, and a terrain park. Heavenly Lake Tahoe also has great lodging options, such as Lakeland Village Resort and Zalanta Village Resort. Another well-known resort on the California side of Lake Tahoe is the Northstar California, located on Mount Pluto, a now-extinct volcano. The Northstar is an incredible California ski getaway with over 100 trails accommodating skiers of all skill levels, a terrain park, and the stunning Constellation Residences.

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