Uncover which ski resorts in California receive the most snow so you choose your next ski destination.
When most people think of California, they imagine the sunny beaches of San Diego, the cliffs of Monterey Bay, and the towering granite cliffs and redwoods in Yosemite National Park.
But did you know that California is also home to some of the snowiest ski resorts in the country?
Having met in the ski town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Mike’s passion for skiing and my love for snowboarding have led us to explore ski towns all around the world. We love the unique winter charm of a small ski village in the mountains!
Drawing on this experience, we’ve compiled a list of the snowiest ski resorts in California based on cumulative snow data from the past decade.
Snowiest Ski Resorts In California (Over The Past Decade)
Here are five resorts that have seen remarkable snow accumulations over the past 10 years!
1. Palisades Tahoe: 347.42 feet
There are over 250 unique runs across two mountains, each with its own ski village.
Olympic Village is the main ski town at the base of Palisades Tahoe Ski Area. It’s home to a vibrant atmosphere, plus lots of restaurants, shops, and entertainment. While this is the busiest area in the winter, you can still enjoy uncrowded runs and stunning views of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.
However, frequent visitors occasionally choose to stay in Alpine Meadows, which offers a more relaxed environment and quiet condominiums.
The Alpine Meadows Ski Area is known for large bowls with tons of powder and a nice mix of intermediate/advanced runs.
Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort is best for people who are visiting Lake Tahoe for the first time. It tends to be one of the larger resorts in the area, but it is also relatively affordable and has guaranteed snow!
There are also great runs for all levels, from beginner to advanced, and it’s part of the Ikon Pass network.
2. Kirkwood Mountain Resort: 313.75 feet
Kirkwood Mountain Resort is one of the smaller but most exciting ski resorts in California.
While it’s only 40 miles from South Lake Tahoe, Kirkwood sits at nearly 10,000 feet elevation, which is why it gets more snow than other resorts in California!
Kirkwood is known for its challenging terrain and copious amounts of deep powder. It also boasts some of the best backcountry skiing opportunities, wide-open bowls, and off-piste experiences.
There are 93 runs, and 58% of them are considered expert/advanced. The total drop is over 2,000 feet, and the longest run is just under 2.5 miles.
While the village is definitely smaller than other Tahoe ski resorts, you’ll notice a significantly slower pace and fewer visitors that make it quieter than the larger resorts, but this is why people love it.
It makes for a much less commercialized skiing experience.
That said, Kirkwood Mountain Resort is one of the newest additions to the EPIC Pass, so there’s no telling how long this pure, unspoiled skiing experience will last.
3. Northstar California Resort: 297.83 feet
Northstar is another popular resort in the Lake Tahoe region. It’s a great all-around ski experience for everyone but mainly caters to families.
There is a lot to do in the village, including an ice rink, but it’s not known for crazy nightlife or a wild après/nightlife scene. It also offers a great blend of beginner, intermediate, and advanced trails across the mountain.
In addition to the variety of ski runs, Northstar has 7 different terrain parks across the mountain, including the iconic ‘Northstar Pinball Park.’
Most are excellent all-around parks with jumps and rails for all levels. Plus, there are two full-sized half-pipes and a mini-pipe for beginners.
The downside is that Northstar is one of the most expensive ski resorts in California. A one-day lift ticket is $180 – $220, which jumps to $242 during the holidays.
It does fall under the EPIC Pass, though, and if you know you want to ski here for at least three days, it’s worth buying the EPIC Tahoe Local Pass, which is about $600.
It’s also worth noting that Northstar has become one of the busiest ski resorts in California, especially during peak ski season in late December/early January.
4. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area: 287 feet
The ski resort with the most snowfall outside Lake Tahoe is the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area.
Here, you’ll find a vast expanse of terrain suitable for intermediate and advanced riders. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area features around 173 runs, so no matter how skilled or experienced you are, you’ll certainly not get bored. Here’s a rough trail breakdown:
- Beginner (15%)
- Intermediate (48%)
- Advanced (24%)
- Expert (13%)
Skiers and snowboarders also come for the impressive terrain parks, which are some of the highest-rated in California. There are over ten terrain parks with over 100 jibs, 50 jumps, and 2 half pipes.
The resort offers a comprehensive range of amenities, including rental equipment, dining options, lodging, and a ski school.
Mammoth also has three base areas, each offering a lively village with plenty of accommodation options, shopping, and entertainment.
Additionally, Mammoth Mountain is the most convenient ski resort (with this much snow) from Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
5. Sugar Bowl Resort: 273.67 feet
The historic ski area has received an average of more than 324 inches (27 feet) per year over the past decade and has one of the longest ski seasons anywhere in the U.S.
If you’re looking for a cozy ski resort that has all the essential amenities without the massive crowds of out-of-state tourists, then Sugar Bowl is an excellent option for you.
The mountain consists of 105 trails. These are primarily intermediate/advanced, but 17% of the runs are suitable for beginners, so it’s still a nice place for families with children still learning how to ski.
Sugar Bowl Resort offers a comfortable, relaxed skiing experience, and it’s one of the best places to go in California for guaranteed snow!
Additional California Ski Resort Stats
In addition to the resorts outlined above, there are several other noteworthy ski destinations in California.
All 5 of the snowiest ski resorts in California are in northern California, near Lake Tahoe.
This is quite a drive for people from San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, or Phoenix.
Here are some more resorts with a ton of snowfall in California that might be closer to you!
- Boreal Mountain California: 258.17 feet
- Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort: 255.42 feet
- Homewood Mountain Resort: 246.58 feet
- Heavenly Mountain Resort: 241.08 feet
- Skyline Bear Valley Resort: 231 feet
- June Mountain: 199.25 feet
- Soda Springs Mountain Resort: 180.08 feet
- China Peak Mountain Resort: 168.42 feet
- Mount Shasta Ski Park: 142.42 feet
- Donner Ski Ranch: 89.67 feet (missing one year because of fire)
- Snow Summit (Big Bear): 89.33 feet
- Bear Mountain: 84.83 feet
- Snow Valley Mountain Resort: 72.25 feet
- Mountain High Resort: 60.33 feet
- Badger Pass Ski Area: 31.42 feet
- Mt. Baldy Resort: 28.83 feet
What are the best months to ski in California?
The optimal months for skiing in California are typically from December through April. During this period, resorts receive most of their annual snowfall, providing prime conditions for skiing and snowboarding.
What is the largest ski resort in California?
The largest ski resort in California is Palisades Tahoe, with over 120 miles of skiable terrain and 43 ski lifts.
The Wrap-Up: California Ski Resorts With The Most Snow
California might not be one of the most well-known U.S. states for skiing, but it’s undoubtedly one of the best, with 35 ski resorts.
There’s no shortage of powder across California. But, if you are looking for the most reliable snowfall or the ski resorts with the longest ski season, then you should try to visit a ski resort near Lake Tahoe.
Palisades Tahoe and Northstar Resort are two incredible options. However, if you’re looking for something more budget-friendly, then the Sugar Bowl Resort will be your best friend for skiing this winter in California!
And if you’re looking for lots of fresh snow, check out these US resort with the most powder days.