Winter resorts in the Western Sierras are world-renowned as well as small community supported hills. Many California resorts also offer groomed cross-country trails and most provide rentals, food services and schools where you can learn how to ski or snowboard. From the technical steeps of Kirkwood Ski Resort near Tahoe to the smaller Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area in Yosemite's high country, winter resorts in California are snow skiing and snowboarding friendly and many now offer terrain parks. Be sure to check the resort websites for a snow report and winter vacation packages. Other winter activities include snowmobiling, dog sledding, ice skating, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Kirkwood Ski Resort is found along Highway 88 in the northern Sierra Nevada. This is one of the larger ski resorts in Tahoe with 86 runs accessed by 15 lifts. Kirkwood is considered a Tahoe resort but is actually located over 30 miles south of Lake Tahoe. Kirkwood is Tahoe's most challenging Alpine skiing with 6 bowls and nearly twice the vertical feet of other local resorts. Kirkwood Resort is favored by the locals who prefer the deeper snow base and seclusion from the touristy resorts in Tahoe. As if the terrain isn't challenge enough, Kirkwood offers 2 terrain parks to push your skiing and snowboarding skills to the limit. Ski lessons offer the opportunity to learn how to ski or snowboard and ski rental is available. Kirkwood Resort also offers a groomed cross-country and snowshoe park. Visit their website for winter vacation packages and ski slope conditions.
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Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area, formerly Badger Pass, is located in Yosemite National Park off Highway 41 on the road to Glacier Point. This ski area has 10 runs accessed by 5 lifts. Snowboarders and skiers can test their skills on a terrain park and families can enjoy a snow tubing area. Sign up for their ski school to learn how to ski or snowboard and ski rental is available. Go to the website for ski slope status.
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TIP: While visiting Yosemite in the winter, don't miss ice skating in the outdoor skating rink in Half Dome Village. It's been ranked as one the most beautiful skating rinks in the country by several travel sources.
Bear Valley Mountain Resort is located along Highway 4, east of Angels Camp in Gold Country. This is a moderate-size Alpine skiing resort with 75 runs accessed by 9 lifts. Snowboarders and skiers can push their limits at 3 terrain parks and a snow cross course. Ski lessons offer the opportunity to learn how to ski or snowboard and ski rental is available. Check their website for winter vacation packages and ski slope conditions.
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China Peak Mountain Resort is located off Highway 168, east of Fresno near Huntington Lake. This is a moderate-size Alpine skiing resort with 40+ runs accessed by 7 lifts. Snowboarders and skiers can hone their skills at 4 different terrain parks. Sign up for ski school to learn how to ski or snowboard and ski rental is available. Check their website for ski slope status.
Dodge Ridge Resort is located off Highway 108, east of Sonora in Gold Country. This is a moderate-size Alpine skiing resort with 67 runs accessed by 12 lifts. Snowboarders and skiers can test their skills at three different terrain parks. Ski lessons are available to learn how to ski or snowboard and ski rental is available. Check their website for ski slope conditions.
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TIP:Long Barn Lodge is located just down the road from Dodge Ridge and offers ice skating in a large outdoor ice-skating rink.
Alta Sierra is found off Highway 155 near Highway 178, east of Bakersfield in Sequoia National Forest. This is a small-scale ski area with 8 runs accessed by 2 lifts. Snowboarders and skiers can push their limits on a terrain park and families can enjoy a snow tubing area. Their ski school offers the opportunity to learn how to ski or snowboard and ski rental is available. Go to the website for ski slope status.
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Alta Sierra Ski Resort
56700 Rancheria Road
Wofford Heights, California 93285
Pear Lake Ski Hut is located at the eastern end of Generals Highway off Highway 198 in Sequoia National Park. This is the way it was done before lifts and groomed trails. Snowshoe hike 6-miles to the hut at 9,200 feet (2804 meters) where 10 bunk beds and a pellet stove await. Spend the days cross-country skiing or downhill skiing & snowboarding in untouched powder snow. Reservations are made by lottery or non-requested dates.
TIP: This is for the advanced skiers and snowboarders only. It is not uncommon for reserved parties to not even be able to make the hike to the hut due to weather conditions. Avalanche and survival gear must be with you at all times.
Pear Lake Ski Hut
End of General's Highway 198 at Lodgepole Road
Three Rivers, CA 93271
Kirkwood offers 80-kilometers of groomed trails. Cross-country ski lessons and rentals are available. Website
Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area, formerly Badger Pass, offers 25-miles of groomed downhill trails and over 90-miles of marked cross-country trails. Access Glacier Point Ski Hut along a 10.5-mile groomed cross-country trail. Lessons and rentals are available. Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area Ski Area is located off Glacier Point Road from Highway 41. Website |
Winter Trail Maps
Crane Flat offers nearly 20 miles of groomed cross-country skiing trails through pristine forest including a couple Giant Sequoia groves. Crane Flat is located at the northern entrance to Yosemite off Highway 120. Website |
Winter Trail Maps
Mariposa Grove offers over 10 miles of groomed cross-country skiing trails through Yosemite's most popular giant sequoia grove. Mariposa Grove is located at the southern entrance to Yosemite off Highway 41. Website |
Winter Trail Maps
Ostrander Ski Hut is located 10-miles from the Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area in Yosemite National Park. Ostrander Ski Hut is an historic stone house that sleeps 25 and is available by lottery only through the Yosemite Association. Website |
Winter Trail Maps
Glacier Point Ski Hut is accessible via a 10.5-mile groomed cross-country skiing trail from the Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area in Yosemite National Park. Capture astounding views from Glacier Point with no crowds! Relax on one of several sofas surrounding a wood stove. Glacier Point Ski Hut includes a dining area, indoor restrooms and dormitory-style sleeping quarters. Website |
Winter Trail Maps
Bear Valley Mountain Resort offers 3000-acres of groomed cross-country skiing trails. Cross-country lessons and rentals are available. Website
Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park offers cross-country skiing on snowed-in roads and trails. Cross-country rentals are available at Wuksachi Lodge and Grant Grove Market. Join ranger-led snowshoe treks from Wuksachi Lodge and Grant Grove on weekends. Website
Downieville Outfitters offers backcountry tours to the rugged Sierra Buttes. Skis and equipment provided if necessary. Intermediate to expert skiing ability is required. Website
Yosemite has an outdoor ice skating rink located in Half Dome Village, formerly Curry Village. Enjoy views of Half Dome, Glacier Point and Yosemite Valley as you glide across the ice. The Half Dome Village Skating Rink has been rated one of the top ice skating experiences in the nation. An on-site store offers hot drinks and snacks, which can be enjoyed around an adjacent fire ring. Skate rentals available. Website
Tenaya Lodge is situated south of Yosemite off Highway 41. They offer an 80x40-foot outdoor ice skating rink that's nestled in the pine trees. Skate rentals available. Website
Long Barn Lodge is located east of Sonora, Jamestown and Angels Camp off Highway 108. Situated down the hill from Dodge Ridge Ski Area, Long Barn Lodge offers an outdoor ice skating rink that's nestled in the pine trees. Skate rentals, lessons and private parties available. Website
SnoParks are located throughout the Sierras and offer opportunities for sledding, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. They are state-run parks and most of these locations have no amenities other than being a great location for playing in the snow. Website
Sierra Nevada Weather
Weather from Kirkwood to Pinecrest including Bear Valley, Yosemite, Wofford Heights, Sequoia NP and more.
Caltrans offers current road conditions for all of California.
Snow Chains should be carried in your vehicle when traveling in the Sierras during winter, whether you need them or not.
Anticipate being stuck at a road closure - carry water, snacks, warm clothing and blankets to make it through a winter night in your vehicle. Four-wheel drive is not always a guarantee of passage.
Drive safe and slow to your comfort level in snow conditions. Don't let other drivers dictate your speed.