When people think about California, they often think about beaches, Hollywood, and near-tropical weather. Despite this, California is actually home to some of the best and most beautiful ski resorts in the country.
Head out east from the coast and you will be greeted by impressive mountain ranges and a lot of fresh snow, both of which are perfect for skiing.
This article will take you through some of the best ski resorts in California that you should check out the next time you’re in the Golden State.
1. Kirkwood Ski Resort
Thanks to its high elevation, Kirkwood is home to some of the deepest powder and most challenging slopes you’ll find in California.
It’s home to dozens of different trails, perfect for those who are on the adventurous side. It’s also a little more remote than other Tahoe resorts, which means there are often fewer crowds to deal with on the hill.
The terrain is quite diverse, and the views at the resort are truly breathtaking. The snow is also quite dry, which makes for great skiing in most cases.
In general, this resort isn’t great for new skiers (as few of the trails are meant for beginners), but it’s an excellent choice for those looking to challenge themselves.
2. Heavenly Ski Resort
If you’re looking for the most popular resort in the Lake Tahoe region, check out Heavenly. This option features over 4,000 skiable acres, including dozens of miles of delicately groomed trails.
The views of Lake Tahoe and pine forests are great, and due to the sheer size of the resort, you can certainly find a run that provides the views and challenges you want.
This resort is great for skiers of all abilities, ranging from newcomers to Olympic hopefuls. Packed with quality snow and good value for different accommodations, there’s a lot to love about the Heavenly Ski Resort.
Off the slopes, the area has a vibrant nightlife and a lot of things to do nearby. While it’s a great place to ski, one drawback is simply how busy it can get.
3. 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. Being only around 2 hours from Los Angeles, it’s one of the preferred destinations for those in Southern California looking for a snowy winter getaway.
In addition to the convenient location, there’s a lot to like about Big Bear. Most notably, it’s home to two distinct ski areas in Snow Summit and Bear Mountain.
Each place features hundreds of skiable acres that have great elevation, excellent views, and spectacular snowfalls.
While experts can have fun here too, most of the trails are for beginner or intermediate skiers. The resort is also great for receiving ski and snowboard lessons, especially if you’re just starting out or looking to improve.
4. Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort
As you could probably gather from the name, Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort is one of the largest in California. It has peaks of over 11,000 feet, which leads to a ton of natural snowfall, and offers unparalleled views you won’t find anywhere else.
The high elevation also means this is one of the earliest resorts to open in the state, as well as being one of the last to close for the summer.
Including both Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain, this resort offers a plentiful amount of runs for all different kinds of skiers and snowboarders.
Mammoth Mountain is generally for more experienced skiers, while June Mountain is great for families or beginners.
You get access to both with a ticket to Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort, which is great value and gives you access to around 5,000 skiable acres between the two.
5. Squaw Valley Ski Resort
Squaw Valley is among the most iconic ski resorts in California because it was the host of the 1960 Winter Olympics.
The valley (as well as Alpine Meadows, another ski area covered with the same ticket) gets a ton of sun and great ski weather. It has well over 400 inches of fresh snow every year as well.
The resort (including both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows) is home to thousands of skiable acres that add up to over 250 total runs.
Most of the trails are intermediate, but there are also enough green and black diamond runs to satisfy all different skill levels.
Despite being known for heat, sun, and beaches, California is actually home to several high-quality ski resorts. Whether you’re an experienced skier, or someone new to the sport, the aforementioned ski resorts have something for everyone. Whichever you go to, you can be confident that you’re hitting some of the best slopes in the state.
Where do you like to ski in California? Are there any places we missed? Let me know below!