Two men skiing at Alpine Meadows, one of the best California ski resorts

9 Best California Ski Resorts (By a Local)

Winter skiing may not initially come to mind when picturing the sunny golden state but California ski resorts are one of the top attractions on the west coast. You will find big resort towns in California and smaller oases tucked away behind snow-capped mountains. 

I was raised near the Southern California mountains and spent a lot of time exploring the slopes in the winter. In this article I’ll share my picks for the 9 top ski resorts in California:

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9 Best California Ski Resorts 

Mammoth Mountain

⛷️ Luxury resort with many lodging options.

Aerial view of snow-covered mountains with pine trees around.

📍 Google Maps | Website | Where to Stay Near Mammoth Mountain | 👉 Book Your Stay on Booking

Mammoth Mountain is one of the most popular California ski resorts and one of the coolest mountain towns in California. Located in the Eastern Sierra Mountains just under an hour from Bishop CA, this Mammoth resort is a winter sports paradise.

There are slopes suited for all ages as well as skiing and snowboarding instructors on-site. Mammoth Mountain is an outdoor enthusiast’s wonderland and also offers snowmobile rides, cross-country skiing, and hundreds of biking trails.

Mammoth Mountain lodging is the most comfortable in the area. There are 9 lodges in town that are compatible with the Ikon Pass Holder’s 20% off like the Juniper Springs Resort and the Mammoth Mountain Inn

  • 📅 2021-2022 Opening Date: November 19
  • ❄️ Average Annual Snowfall: 25 feet
  • 🎿 Elevation at Base: 8,900 feet
  • 🏔️ Elevation at Summit: 11,053 feet
  • 🚗 Distance from Bishop: 50 minutes
  • 🚠 Lift Ticket Cost: $$$

Heavenly Ski Resort

⛷️ Best views of Lake Tahoe from a California ski resort.

Scenic view of the lake, snow covered trees and mountains from a ski resort in California.

📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Book Your Stay on Booking

If you’re passing through Northern California, you must check out Heavenly Ski Resort. This Lake Tahoe resort has 360-degree views of the stunning lake and surrounding picturesque Sierra Nevada peaks.

Besides its obvious beauty, winter adventurers flock to Heavenly Resort for its variability in ski runs and lifts. One of the greatest views of Lake Tahoe can also be accessed through the Heavenly Resort gondola ride that both skiers and tourists can enjoy. 

There are 4,800 skiable acres at Heavenly Ski Resort, with some slopes crossing the state line between California and Nevada. This ski resort is one of the top ski resorts in California.  

  • 📅 2021-2022 Opening Date: November 12
  • ❄️ Average Annual Snowfall: 18 feet
  • 🎿 Elevation at Base: 6,255 feet
  • 🏔️ Elevation at Summit: 10,067 feet
  • 🚗 Distance from Sacramento: 2 hours 
  • 🚠 Lift Ticket Cost: $$$

❄️ Don’t Forget to Pack: You can’t go skiing without your snow goggles. These Smith Snow Goggles are my ultimate favorite pair and I won’t hit the slopes without them!

Mountain High Resort

⛷️ Best resort for first timers.

Stunning view of the snow covered mountain ranges on a sunny winter day.

📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Book Your Stay on Booking

Mountain High is my go-to ski resort in Southern California. Located in Wrightwood only 1 hour 45 minutes outside of Los Angeles, this is the best ski resort for its location.

Mountain High is a smaller ski resort nestled in between the San Gabriel mountains. Enjoy skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and other forms of snow play at this secluded resort. This Southern California ski resort caters to kids with its Yeti’s Snow Play area that’s reserved for sledding. 

The Grand View Lodge is a prime place to relax by the fire after hitting the slopes all morning. Try the delicious craft beers before trying your luck again on the slopes at one of the best ski resorts in California.

  • 📅 2021-2022 Opening Date: November 12
  • ❄️ Average Annual Snowfall: 5 feet
  • 🎿 Elevation at Base: 6,600 feet
  • 🏔️ Elevation at Summit: 8,200 feet
  • 🚗 Distance from Los Angeles: 1 hour 45 minutes 
  • 🚠 Lift Ticket Cost: $$

Big Bear Mountain Resort

⛷️ Best resort for families.

Aerial view of the beautiful landscape of the snow covered Big Bear mountain resort.

📍 Google Maps | Website | Things to Do in Big Bear Lake | 👉 Book Your Stay on Booking

Hitting the snow slopes at Big Bear Mountain Resort is a true California local experience. This is one of the best ski resorts in California surrounded by the San Bernardino Mountains. 

The ski resort boasts high-altitude dining, night ski sessions, holiday races, photo spots, and a family-friendly innertube riding park. This is one of the best Southern California ski resorts surrounded by snow-capped mountains and extreme terrain and one of the top things to do in San Bernardino

If Big Bear Mountain is too crowded, then head over to Snow Summit, the sister resort only a short distance away. 

  • 📅 2021-2022 Opening Date: November 12 
  • ❄️ Average Annual Snowfall: 10 feet
  • 🎿 Elevation at Base: 7,140 feet
  • 🏔️ Elevation at Summit: 8,805 feet
  • 🚗 Distance from San Bernardino: 1 hour 15 minutes 
  • 🚠 Lift Ticket Cost: $$

Mt. Baldy Ski Resort

⛷️ Closest resort to Los Angeles.

View from Mt. Baldy Ski Resort with the magnificent snow covered mountain ranges in the background.

📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Book Your Stay on Booking

I grew up going to Mount Baldy Ski Resort and it’s one of my all-time favorite California ski resorts. Located in Los Angeles County, it’s the closest to the big city and is less than an hour from the heart of downtown.

This is one of the best ski resorts in Southern California because it’s small and intimate but has competitive prices and beautiful skiable terrain. This desirable ski destination offers skiers top-notch restaurants on the mountain and ski lessons.

A ski vacation to this local spot will be one for the books. Check here for the top Mt. Baldy rentals.

  • 📅 2021-2022 Opening Date: TBD
  • ❄️ Average Annual Snowfall: 14 feet
  • 🎿 Elevation at Base: 6,500 feet
  • 🏔️ Elevation at Summit: 9,500 feet
  • 🚗 Distance from Los Angeles: 40 minutes
  • 🚠 Lift Ticket Cost: $

Mt. Shasta Ski Park

⛷️ Best ski resort for inexperienced skiers.

A snow covered mountain slope of Mt. Shasta Ski Park with a fully packed parking below.

📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Book Your Stay on Booking

Mt. Shasta is one of the most stunning areas in California. With a towering peak of 14,179 feet looming over the whole city, skiing in this area is a highly coveted winter activity and is a great stop on an unforgettable California road trip.

Mt. Shasta Ski Park is one of the best ski resorts in California for its beautiful views and winter sports. There are also chairlift rides, disc golf, and mountain biking here in the summer months. Mt. Shasta Ski Resort is one of the best ski resorts in California and shouldn’t be missed this winter.

  • 📅 2021-2022 Opening Date: December 17
  • ❄️ Average Annual Snowfall: 17 feet
  • 🎿 Elevation at Base: 5,500 feet
  • 🏔️ Elevation at Summit: 7,536 feet 
  • 🚗 Distance from Chico: 2 hours 20 minutes 
  • 🚠 Lift Ticket Cost: $

❄️ Don’t Forget to Pack: Keep your hands warm and dry with a strong pair of waterproof gloves during a full day of skiing. These Gore-tex REI gloves are a must for a day in the snow.

Palisades Tahoe

⛷️ High-end resort with ample amenities.

Panoramic view of a mountain ski resort with a cable car above.
A cable car above squaw valley

📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Book Your Stay on Booking

Also known as Squaw Valley, Palisades Tahoe is one of the best California ski resorts in the South Lake Tahoe region. Surrounded by alpine meadows and breathtaking skiable terrain, Palisades Tahoe is a California must.

While there are slopes for everyone and plenty of beginner runs, advanced skiers love the technical slopes and steep grades of some chutes. There are plenty of lodging options in the area like The Village at Palisades Tahoe, which offers pristine views of the snowy mountains.

Palisades Tahoe has some of the longest ski runs out of all California ski resorts, making this a top option for powder hounds everywhere.

  • 📅 2021-2022 Opening Date: November 18
  • ❄️ Average Annual Snowfall: 18 feet 
  • 🎿 Elevation at Base: 6,201 feet
  • 🏔️ Elevation at Summit: 9,050 feet
  • 🚗 Distance from Sacramento: 1 hour 45 minutes 
  • 🚠 Lift Ticket Cost: $$$

Badger Pass Ski Area

⛷️ A local California favorite.

A man skiing at a snow covered slope with pine trees around Yosemite National Park.

📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Book Your Stay on Booking

Did you know there is a ski resort in Yosemite National Park? This lesser-known ski resort is one of the most beautiful in the golden state and should not be missed.

Badger Pass Ski Area is one of the top California ski resorts and offers visitors amazing views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. You can take lessons at Badger Pass Ski Area or experienced skiers can go for a cross-country adventure.

There are some extreme terrain slopes as well as tubing and snowshoeing areas for the whole family to enjoy. This is one of the most unique ski resorts in California and is a good way to explore California’s national parks.

  • 📅 2021-2022 Opening Date: December 16
  • ❄️ Average Annual Snowfall: 3 feet
  • 🎿 Elevation at Base: 7,200 feet
  • 🏔️ Elevation at Summit: 8,000 feet
  • 🚗 Distance from Fresno: 1 hour 50 minutes 
  • 🚠 Lift Ticket Cost: $$$

Sugar Bowl Ski Resort

⛷️ Best for varied slope options.

Two snowboarders riding on a ski lift at the snow covered Sugar Bowl Ski Reso.

📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Book Your Stay on Booking

This Sierra Nevada ski resort is located in Norden California and is on the south side of Lake Tahoe. This is one of the best ski resorts in California for fewer crowds and breathtaking views. 

Sugar Bowl is also one of the oldest California ski resorts and is home to California’s first chairlift and the first ski gondola on the west coast. The present-day slopes are 17% beginner, 45% intermediate, and 38% advanced, with something for everyone.

One of Lake Tahoe’s top ski resorts, Sugar Bowl offers visitors on-mountain dining, classy lodging, and endless entertainment in the nearby town. 

  • 📅 2021-2022 Opening Date: November 25
  • ❄️ Average Annual Snowfall: 18 feet
  • 🎿 Elevation at Base: 6,883 feet
  • 🏔️ Elevation at Summit: 8,383 feet
  • 🚗 Distance from Sacramento: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • 🚠 Lift Ticket Cost: $$$

FAQs About California Ski Resorts

How many ski resorts are in California?

There are 34 working ski resorts in California with nearly 800 miles of combined ski slopes.

Where do people ski in Cali?

People ski in all parts of California. From north to south, there are ski resorts throughout the entire state. The most popular areas for skiing in California are Lake Tahoe and Mammoth.

Is Mammoth or Tahoe better for skiing?

Both Mammoth and Tahoe are great places for skiing. Mammoth sits at a higher elevation than Lake Tahoe and has drier snow than Tahoe. The slopes are also slightly steeper in Mammoth than in Lake Tahoe.

Where is the best snow in California?

Big Bear, Mammoth Mountain, Yosemite National Park, and Lake Tahoe receive the best snow in California. You can find perfect snow in all areas of California in the winter.


I hope you have fun exploring these top ski resorts in California! If you’re looking for more fun-filled excursions to do during your stay in California, check out our things to do in California guide. 

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