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The Best Places to go Skiing in Northern California

The Best Places to go Skiing in Northern California

By California.com
March 25, 2021

As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.

Glide across California’s pristine mountains. May the snow become your canvas and your skis your brush. NorCal’s alpine terrain boasts several of the finest resorts—perfect for those who’ve mastered the art of skiing. Check out the best places to go skiing in Northern California now. 

 Northern California Ski Resorts to Visit Next

The mountains are calling you. It's time to pack your bags, don your winter gloves, and head to Heavenly Ski Resort.

Heavenly Ski Resort

Location: 3860 Saddle Road, South Lake Tahoe

Magnificent peaks, winding trails, and snowy terrains await at Heavenly Ski Resort—Northern California’s greatest ski resort. With vertical drops and unbelievable 10,067-feet elevations, Heavenly is all powder and play, every day.

Situated on the California-Nevada border, this resort is renowned for its wide range of lifts, terrains, and deep plunges. Heavenly is spread between four base areas—Stagecoach Lodge, Boulder Lodge, California Heavenly Village, and California Base Lodge.

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If you’re just getting into skiing, it’s best to start out at Boulder Lodge, which is all about shorter runs and milder drops. Little ones can also safely practice their moves as you sip on hot cocoa. For the fearless, glide down the High Roller—thrilling terrain featuring advanced slopes and 65-foot drops.

On average, Heavenly experiences 360 inches of snowfall annually, cloaking the Sierra Nevada in glimmering white. The best part? Ski under the sun approximately 300 days per year.

You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy a ski pass at Northstar California Resort. Photo courtesy of Northstar California Resort.

Northstar California Resort 

Location: 5001 Northstar Drive, Truckee

Ski to your heart’s content across 3,000 acres at Northstar California Resort. High-end accommodations, mountain dining, and alpine skiing—this resort welcomes you with all its wonder.

If you’re a beginner or intermediate skier, worry not. Approximately 60-percent of the trails are moderately rated. The vertical drops on the black runs are ideal for both advanced maneuvers and mellow intermediate tricks.

Under a delightful mix of sunlight and snowfall, visitors savor every moment at one of the best ski resorts in California. If the 350 inches of annual snow wasn’t enough, the terrain is completely provided for by sturdy piste machines.

Skiing Near San Francisco

Skiing is like dancing. You best be sure that the mountain always leads. Breathe in the fresh alpine air as you ski down the slopes.

Dodge Ridge Ski Resort

Location: 1 Dodge Ridge Road, Pinecrest

When planning your California winter-weekend getaway, don’t look past the quaint Dodge Ridge Ski Resort. A quick three-hour drive from San Francisco brings you to one of the most charming places to ski in California.

The annual snowfall reaches 300 inches. The 852-acre terrain is divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced areas. The family-owned Dodge Ridge Resort is quite the wholesome choice when skiing in California. It’s a great place for the entire family—the youngsters will fall in love with skiing after taking award-winning lessons. Hours spent skiing here will definitely make your fun holiday highlights list.

Ski ya later...gather the crew because it's time for a paradisiacal skiing weekend.

Boreal Mountain Resort 

Location: 19749 Boreal Ridge Road, Soda Springs

Located near the Lake Tahoe area, Boreal Mountain Resort puts a new spin on skiing near San Francisco. Jaw-dropping elevations, powdered terrains, and 400 inches of annual snowfall make this alpine wonderland a must-visit on your winter itinerary.

The dreamlike winter wonderland is home to engaging trails ranging from beginner to advanced. Show off your skills while on one of the 41 runs, surrounded by soaring peaks. The 13-foot mini pipe is perfect for experimentation and ideal for freestyle enthusiasts. Just can’t get enough of skiing? Head to the resort’s Woodward Tahoe training facilities, open year-round (just stay forever).

When skiing the slopes at Sugar Bowl Resort, the snow must go on. Spend your mornings hitting the slopes.

Sugar Bowl Resort

Location: 629 Sugar Bowl Road, Norden

Set atop Tahoe’s Donner Summit, Sugar Bowl Resort is the closest ski resort to San Francisco and one of Northern California’s oldest.

Sugar Bowl Resort provides enthusiasts with terrains catering to advanced and beginner skiers alike. Approximately 17 percent of the trails are beginner-friendly, while 38 percent of the runs are single and double black diamond.

The resort receives 500 inches of snow annually, making it the perfect place to ski well into spring. Though somewhat on the smaller scale, Sugar Bowl is one of the affordable ski resorts that make up for their size through endless charm.

Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts 

Leave your worries behind and just ski to your heart's content. Photo courtesy of Squaw Valley Resort.

Squaw Valley Resort

Location: 1960 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley

With 270 trails, 42 lifts, and the longest ski seasons, Squaw Valley Resort is a Tahoe skiing showstopper. With over 6,000 skiable acres, this ski resort is paradise. Oh, and the peaks lead you to majestic views of Lake Tahoe's glimmering waters.

At Squaw Valley Resort, you’ll find everything from beginner areas to advanced skier havens. Adrenaline junkies should take the Aerial Tram to High Camp—prime terrain for expert maneuvers and curving pistes. If you’re keener on beginner adventures, either head to the Pacific Crest Bowls or take the more mellow lifts at High Camp.

With snowfall reaching 450 inches per season, the resort often operates through July—it’s time to start planning for quite the unconventional ski tour. For those looking to unwind, the area is also home to European-inspired upscale restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries.

With great powder comes great responsibility. Ski safely and most importantly, have a blast with your bestie.

Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort

Location: 1111 Sierra-At-Tahoe Road, Twin Bridges

Ever since its establishment in 1946, Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort has truly blossomed into Lake Tahoe’s finest. The 2,000 powdered acres are divided by skill level: 25 percent beginner, 50 percent intermediate, and 25 percent advanced runs. All 46 runs are serviced by chairlifts—several are even equipped with high-speed quads.

The annual snowfall—though somewhat inconsistent—reaches an impressive average of 480 inches. If you can’t choose between all the winter sports, why not experience a handful at Blizzard Mountain? With tubing hills, sledding, and snowshoe trails, the area will become your own playground. Foodies, Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort also boasts excellent restaurant options for a post-ski treat. 

Want to extend your stay? The south shore of Lake Tahoe offers affordable accommodations just in case you can’t get enough Tahoe bliss.

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