Skiing In California – 5 of the Best Resorts
With versatile resorts that offer fresh air and adventure the whole year round, California is a great destination for anyone planning a skiing or snowboarding trip over the winter months, with Sierra Nevada especially boasting some of the finest ski resorts in North America. Here, in no particular order, are five of the best ski destinations in California, for beginners and experts alike.
Bear Valley Resort
Just three hours from Sacramento, and situated between Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, Bear Valley is a big resort offering a large and very varied terrain, making it the perfect destination for skiers of all abilities. Though the season there lasts almost half the year, from November until April, and an average season will see around 30 metres of snowfall, recent years have been a little more unpredictable, so it’s wise to look into the snow forecasts for the coming season before booking your trip.
Heavenly Mountain Resort
They call it “Heavenly” for a reason, and we’re not talking about the delicious après ski cup of cocoa! The only resort to straddle the border between California and Nevada (allowing you to ski from one state to the next!) Heavenly also boasts one the highest top elevations in either state. Taking the lifts and climbing up to a height of 10,040 feet gives you the most spectacular view of Lake Tahoe, making this one of the most breathtakingly picturesque resorts in the world, let alone California. The nightlife here is lively, but this is still an excellent resort for families and beginners.
Made world famous when it hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics, Squaw Valley isn’t quite as large as the Heavenly Mountain Resort, but it’s still one of the most popular resorts in California, and in 2012 merged with the neighbouring Alpine Meadows, which – like Squaw Valley – boasts some excellent and challenging terrain for intermediaries and experts, but don’t let that put you off! Squaw Valley also offers great tutorials for beginners who are just beginning to find their feet on the slopes! The lifts here can be a little expensive compared to some others, but with a resort this good they’re worth it.
Mammoth by name, mammoth by nature, this first class resort offers the very highest elevation in California, taking you to a quite-literally-breathtaking 11,053 feet and offering those with the lungs for it some truly outstanding views of Owens Valley and Yosemite. The altitude means this is one of the most snow-sure of California’s ski areas, and the conditions there are generally very dry. Mammoth Mountain is popular with San Franciscans and Angelenos, who can drive there in less than 6 hours. It’s a great all-round resort with a superb variety of terrain, but those planning a visit should know that the neighbouring June Mountain Ski Area is closed for the 2012/2013 season, with plans to reopen for 2013/2014.
Sugar Bowl Ski Resort
It may be the “Old Timer” on this list, having opened all the way back in 1939, but Sugar Bowl proves the older resorts can keep up with the times and offer even the most seasoned skiers and snowboarders a challenge, and plenty of opportunity to practise jumps and rails. While in terms of size it might not compete with Heavenly Mountain Resort and Squaw Valley, or Mammoth Mountain in terms of spectacle, Sugar Bowl offers a more intimate experience that’s ideal for beginners and intermediaries.
About the Author David Llewellyn is a keen skiing and snowboarding enthusiast, and writes for Ski Ici