When you think of California, thoughts that almost immediately spring to mind are those of sunshine, palm trees, and surfers tackling the breakers just off the coast of Huntington Beach. What doesn’t register in the minds of most people is that California is also an excellent destination for the avid skier, as the steep slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range pieces the sky not far from the Mediterranean-like coast of California.
As such, when the winter rains move ashore here, they run into these high peaks, dropping a ton of precipitation in the form of dry, light champagne powder. Ready to mix a little winter fun into your California getaway this year? Then let’s talk about three standout resorts where you can make the most of the coldest season of them all in one of America’s most diverse states.
1) Squaw Valley
Home to the events of the 1960 Winter Olympics, Squaw Valley is a quality choice for novice and advanced shredders alike. Make tracks where famed athletes of yesteryear like Jean Vaurnet and Roger Staub once ripped down these pitches in hunt of the Olympic gold medal, while admiring the vistas that only the Lake Tahoe area can provide. For those looking for a challenge, some of the most difficult double black runs in the United States can be found here, with plenty of gladed runs, rocky chutes and tightly packed moguls available to test your mettle.
2) Mammoth Mountain
The furthest south of the resorts featured in this article, you might be afraid that a mild year could spell doom for its operations. However, this ski area has a peak elevation of 11,053 feet, ensuring that copious natural snow falls throughout much of the season, with cold temperatures in between systems allowing for additional coverage by the mountain’s snowmaking system. The scenery here is gobsmacking, as it is in the area of Yosemite National Park, and there is a wide variety of terrain for all abilities. Stick around for this resort’s well-regarded après ski experience, which offers everything from fine dining to raucous nightlife in the on-site village.
3) Sugar Bowl Ski Resort
If you’re looking for a place that is less packed with crowds from the cities, but is still ripe with alpine conquests to be made, then Sugar Bowl is the resort for you. With 83% of the terrain at this destination rated intermediate or higher, there is no shortage of gnarly features to conquer and master. Of note are the massive bowls at the top that offer infinite opportunity for eager carvers to make their own line down this amazing mountain, without fear of crashing in to some hotshot lawyer with a litigious axe to grind.
This winter, you can have your cake and eat it too, by spending some time enjoying the delights of winter at its many fine ski resorts, and then retreating to the coast for its famed warm weather. Indeed, this state seems to have it all!