California Ski Authority
Welcome to California Ski Authority. Your Home for CA Ski Discounts.
Skiing in CaliforniaTons of Great Hills to Choose From
If you are thinking about skiing in California either for a day or for a vacation, you will enjoy some of the best terrain in the world. With 28 ski mountains and many of them world class ski resorts, there are so many places to ski that it’s hard to imagine needing to go anywhere else to find the perfect spot for couples, families, buddies, or true blue powder hounds.
The Geography of Skiing in California
All of the skiing is on the eastern part of the state where the mountains are, and most of the big and most popular skiing in California is centered around Lake Tahoe. Big resorts you’ve probably heard of, such as Squaw Valley, Heavenly, Donner, Kirkwood, and Northstar are all in this area and just about a two hour drive from Sacramento, which is the closest major airport, though you can also fly directly into Tahoe. There are also resorts on the other side of Lake Tahoe in Nevada, in fact, if you ski Heavenly you can cross back and forth from Cali to NV.
The next big area is a few hours south of Tahoe, near Yosemite, and in the Sierra National Forest. There are a few lesser known resorts outside of the state, but for locals, these are the go-to spots for skiing in California. In this area there is Mammoth, June Mountain, and China Peak. As well as Dodge Ridge and Bear Valley between here and Tahoe. These areas are due east of San Jose and also very close to the entire Bay area, and just a bit northwest of Fresno.
In addition, there are areas as far south as LA and even north of Redding, which is to say that you can basically find skiing all over the eastern side of California.
By the grace of Mother Nature, the Tahoe area gets a lot of snow and has some of the best skiing views in the world. Believe us, it is not common to ski down a mountain looking at a sapphire alpine lake, let alone the largest one on the entire continent. Because of this lake and these mountains, this area can just get pounded with snow. It is very typical for them to receive a steady amount all year long and for locals to scream and cry when the lifts close even though there is still tons of snow in May. And other times, it will just dump snow like it did on the Donner Party. Better pack a lunch.
The mountains are not as tall in California as they are deeper into the Rockies. The average summit of all of the mountains here is 8500, and Mammoth is the tallest at 11053. But they still manage tons of vertical. What this can mean for families or skiers new to the area is how to regulate their temperature, since it can be frigid on top and warmer than most other states at the base. You must learn to layer your clothes, wear breathable fabrics, and bring a backpack or grab a locker. Apres ski is easy, you can just take off your jacket.
Skiing in California: Resorts vs Hills
Typically, most of the people who ski the small hills or even the big hills that aren’t that built out are locals or at least Californians. This is not a statement of how things are done in CA, but rather just how the ski industry at large works in every state. Big Bear and Mount Baldy might be the exceptions, not that Big Bear isn’t built out, but that so many people visit LA and it’s not uncommon to have a day or half day free on a work trip and take a quick jaunt to the mountains.
But if you are curious about these other CA mountains that you haven’t heard of, let us give you some friendly advice on how to think about them. First, the popular CA ski resorts that you already know are popular for a reason. Yes, usually the skiing is good, but it’s typically the amenities that wow ski trippers. This is usually in the form of tons of lodging, great restaurants, a cool vibe, easy to access, and so on. The popular resorts: Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Squaw Valley, are also going to be more expensive. Again, this will be true in any state with skiing. Most often, people research for a ski trip at a particular California resort and they either find it too expensive, or they just want to build in a little variety. So they look just outside the area. So here’s how to play this.
Check the map and see what’s close. Then look up photos of the base area at that resort. If you are skiing for 4 days at one of the expensive resorts, like Heavenly, and want to save a little money, check out Boreal or Tahoe-Donner that are less than 1/3 the cost to ski one day. A family of four could save $300 just skiing here one day vs Heavenly.
No Wrong Choice
Skiing in California has been awesome for so many decades that you don’t need to worry about having a good time here. We have big resorts with big skiing, big vertical, and amenities, such as casinos that you just can’t get anywhere else. But we also have small hills and big hills without many people that are great places to learn or take a quick day while you are in the area. We have deals at almost every resort and we can help you save on lift tickets, lodging, shuttles, ski rentals, activities, you name it. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, just write to us and we will send you our recommendations.
Drop Us a Line
If you need some advice on your next ski vacation or, heck, if you want to give us some advice, please get in touch.