California is mostly synonymous with the Hollywood entertainment industry, sunny beaches, and a temperate weather. Its terrain includes the Mojave Desert, Central Valley farmland, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, redwood forest, and cliff-lined beaches. However, some folks from around the world have been visiting this state for a completely different reason: skiing. California receives a generous amount of snowfall during winter, most noticeably the Kirkwood resort, which receives a whopping 600 inches of snow annually. Take a look at the top five ski resorts in California.
Kirkwood Mountain Resort
Kirkwood Mountain Resort can be found along Eldorado National Forest’s Sierra Crest, just south of Lake Tahoe. The ski mountain destination is accessible throughout the year, with excellent terrain featuring long- groomed trails, chutes, and expert lines. Each season, the resort receives plenty of snowfall that comes with breathtaking views of the neighboring mountains. The resort is equipped with restaurants, as well as ski-in and ski-out accommodations. Guests also have access to other activities such as backcountry rides, dog sled tours, snow shoeing, and cross-country skiing.
Kirkwood boasts one of the world’s highest resort snowfalls and has been recently being revamped to accommodate the conveniences of a vacation resort and the relaxed atmosphere of a day hill. Apart from the bars, eateries, and other facilities, developers have been busy building plenty of slope side condos.
Heavenly Mountain Resort
Heavenly Mountain Resort is one of the best ski resorts in California, located along the Nevada border. It boasts 4 base facilities as well as 30 lifts and 97 runs that are distributed between California and Nevada. The resort offers 4,800 acres of terrain, 33 percent of which is dedicated for skiing. Heavenly Mountain Resort also has the highest elevation in the area at 10,067 feet. Its peak lift service elevation is 10,040 feet. Heavenly was acquired in 2002 by Vail Resorts, which is also behind Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Northstar California, and 7 other resorts in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Utah, and Colorado.
The ski destination receives about 360 inches of snow yearly and houses one of the largest snowmaking systems in America, meaning that the ski season can extend from November to mid-April. Unfortunately, Heavenly has a dark history and has been associated with the death of Congressman Sonny Bono after hitting a tree on 5th January 1998. Generally, the shore of South Lake Tahoe is a summer resort, with an economy that is primarily based on gambling. The central area features a few high rise casino hotels, which are equipped with neat rooms, various entertainments, and posh restaurants. Once you retire from the slopes, you can try your luck at the slot machines.
Snow Summit Ski & Snowboard Resort
Snow Summit was founded in 1948, and is a great snowboard and family ski destination. It has more than 240 acres of terrain (skiable), as well as 31 trails that are completely covered by a first-rate snowmaking system. The ski resort is a SoCal favorite due to their reliable conditions throughout the year. Snow Summit is also a perfect learning place for beginners, as they have a new facility for trainees and one of the biggest Learning Area in Southern California. Guests are handled by professionally certified instructors, who make the whole learning experience fun and natural with a learning progression that cultivates on balance and existing skills.
The family friendly eateries, Tube Park, and Night Skiing Sessions complete the ski resort, making it ideal for people of all ages. Snow Summit Mountain Resort has a sister mountain – Bear Mountain – which has its own appeal to riders and skiers. The two miles of separation are connected through an inter-mountain express shuttle service (free of charge). The entire Snow Summit terrain is about 7,000 feet, which also offers after-ski entertainment, full service restaurants, shops, and lodging accommodations.
Squaw Valley Resort
Popularly known for hosting the entire Winter Olympics of 1960, Squaw Valley Ski Resort can be found in Olympic Valley and is one of the biggest ski areas in U.S. With about 3,600 acres of terrain and 30 chairlifts, only Heavenly Mountain Resort is larger around the Lake Tahoe region. Squaw Valley also contains the only funitel in the country. In 2012, the resort was merged with Alpine Meadows to extend the whole terrain to 6,200 acres with 270 trails and 43 lifts. Around 600,000 skiers come to Squaw Alpine to ski every year, enjoying an impressive elevation of 9,050 feet at Granite Chief. The area neighbors Donner Pass and receives about 40 feet of snowfall during winter.
There’s a scenic aerial tramway that rises up to 2,000 feet to High Camp, offering an elevation of 2,500m (8,200 feet) above sea level. Guests are treated to luxury facilities such as high altitude disk golf, shopping, dining, roller skating, and a pool. The resort also hosts a wide range of events in summer. For forty years, it has accommodated the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and brings in several famous musical performers and accomplished yoga teachers every July. Some of the most notable concerts and beer/wine events organized during summer include Bluesdays, Peaks and Paws, Jazz and Funk Fest, and the Brews.
Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort is home to the highest summit elevation in California at 11,053 feet. It is located around the southwest border of the volcanic Long Valley Caldera, and offers more than 3,500 acres of skiable terrain as well as a vertical drop of 3,100 feet. Guests are treated to modern facilities, diverse terrain choices, and a long ski season that can run up to July. In addition, the mountain has a wide range of expansive bowls, first-class terrain parks, steep chutes, wide open groomers, and tree skiing. The favorite accommodation is in Mammoth Lakes, CA.
The vast terrain at Mammoth Mountain includes an extensive lift system that transports skiers to skill- dependent spots, with 25 percent for beginners, 40 percent for intermediate, and 35 percent for advanced trails. The resort receives approximately 400 inches of snowfall annually, and boasts excellent facilities for creating a flawless transition from beginner to expert terrain.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker