Overview of California
Written by Greg and Heather Burke • Last updated Aug 23, 2017
California is the surfers capital of the US. Skiers and snowboarders find the best ride though is in the California mountains. We’re not talking Mountain High or Mt Baldy – those are just ski day trips from Hollywood and LA. We’re talking about the best California ski resorts – where your ski and stay for a week – a Mammoth ski week.
The Sierra Nevada Range that stretches from Mammoth to Lake Tahoe creates fantastic big mountain skiing. Mammoth is an incredible California ski destination.
The resort at Mammoth is a beautiful Intrawest ski development, with nicely appointed condominiums and a handful of good après ski bars and shops. The skiing at Mammoth is vast, with spectacular summit skiing, and the best terrain parks in the country. Mammoth has more ski terrain than you can explore in a California ski weekend. And Mammoth has the longest ski season around.
Lake Tahoe is a jewel-colored body of water surrounded by black diamonds – 18 ski areas are within a snowball fight radius of Lake Tahoe. Come for a Lake Tahoe ski week, and ski a different California or Nevada ski area every day. The biggest ski resorts are Squaw Valley, Heavenly, Alpine Meadows, Kirkwood, Northstar and Sierra at Tahoe. But there are plenty more to hit – Homewood, Diamond Peak, Incline Village, Mount Rose, Sugarbowl.
Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly resort borders California and Nevada (where just about everything is legal), in fact, you can ski from state to state. Take advantage of the ski and stay casino packages if you are a high elevation high roller. Just remember, it's hard to ride Heavenly’s’ gondola for first tracks when you have been hitting Heavenly’s casinos and Lake Tahoe’s nightclubs on a Nevada all-nighter.
The slopeside lodging at Squaw Valley is ideal for core-skiers, either The Plumpjack at Squaw or the Resort at Squaw Creek. The Ritz Carlton at Northstar is a great on mountain luxury ski hotel as well. What’s amazing about a Lake Tahoe ski trip, the scenery as you ski around the Lake, at every ski turn, at every Tahoe ski resort - there’s the spectacular deep blue waters that never freeze. If you are lodged on the California side of Lake Tahoe, and you want to ski Heavenly one-day, just take the ski cruise boat across for first tracks and enjoy a booze cruise on your return for après ski.