Ski Resorts in California

California’s Tahoe region offers one of the highest concentrations of alpine ski resorts this side of the Alps. Of course with this slew of options come major decisions. Where to start? There are four major regions in the Tahoe area that, like the resorts, have very different identities. Not to mention a few more (namely, eight) in Southern California.

The Sierra Nevada Mountains (Spanish for “Snowy Range”) crown Lake Tahoe, which divides the region into distinct halves: the north shore and the south shore. The north shore is prime territory for the hard-core alpinist. The major resorts (Squaw, Alpine Meadows, and Sugar Bowl) are all about the slopes, and diversions are minimal. The opposite shore provides plenty of powder-free recreational amusements. Heavenly and Sierra-at-Tahoe offer a lot more intermediate terrain, while Kirkwoond has the big mountain appeal like its north-shore counterparts. For a more laidback look at the north shore, Northstar Resort is a good bet. There are also the smaller, mom-and-pop resorts, such as Donner Ski Ranch and Granlibakken, that bring you back to your good ol’ alpine roots.

While Coloradoans and Utahans might pshaw at the mere two or three thousand-foot verticals in the Sierras, the mountains are young and have a jagged steepness with runs that tend to be more continuous. In addition to the continuity, the runs are the whitest in the country. On average, most California resorts see over 400 inches of natural whiteness in a season, and in 1906, Tamarack set a record in the Tahoe region with a seasonal snow dump of 884 inches...enough snow to get lost in for an entire season.


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