California offers some of the most renowned ski resorts in the U.S. including Badger Pass Ski Area and the Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts, offering miles upon miles of trails and terrain for skiers and riders. Avid riders can shred down any of the challenging black or double black diamond trails, while novices can keep to the smooth rolling slopes on the beginner and intermediate trails. Most ski resorts in the California area offer both adult and kids ski and snowboarding lessons, as well as children’s programs and a variety of other winter activities for families.
Here is a list of some of our favorite California Ski Resorts:
Badger Pass Ski Area
Located in the heart of Yosemite National Park, this scenic ski resort is an ideal place for families. With 85 percent of the resort’s slopes (seven trails) dedicated to beginner and intermediate trails, Badger Pass is a great place for those who are just starting out. With gentle slopes and smooth trails, newbies can improve their skills and build confidence quickly. Learn to ski and snowboard lessons are available, as well as private lessons and next step lessons for intermediate skiers and riders. For your little ones, the Badger Pups downhill program offers personalized instruction for kids ages 4 to 6.
If you’re an avid skier and snowboarder shred down any of the three black diamond trails on the mountain — sure to put your skills to the test. Badger Pass features two terrain parks, offering an exciting experience for all skill levels. Catering to more advanced riders, the lower terrain park features medium to large jumps, as well as a variety of rails and boxes to press and skim across. The upper terrain park features beginner-friendly boxes, rails and jumps.
With a wide range of lodging options to choose from, families can enjoy all Yosemite has to offer. The Ahwahnee offers luxurious accommodations in the heart of the Park, while the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls features well-appointed rooms and a relaxed family atmosphere. Families will love the charm of the Victorian-style Wawona Hotel as well as the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite offering spacious suites and cottages. For more lodging options you can check out our Yosemite National Park resorts page.
Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts
Thanks to the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley USA, ski enthusiasts throughout the world know Lake Tahoe. Featuring majestic mountains, astonishing cliffs, and the perfect amount of white powdery snow, Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts are a shredders paradise. With seven world-class ski resorts throughout the Lake Tahoe area, each delivers its own brand of charm for families. With endless amounts of skiable terrain, trails, terrain parks and lodges, the hard part is choosing just one.
For more information, check out our list of the seven world-class Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts that make up this amazing ski heaven.
Sugar Bowl Ski Resort
This well-named ski resort is the closest resort to Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area and boasts stunning views of Donner Lake. Families have flocked to Sugar Bowl for 70 years for a happy and reliable ski experience. With eight lifts serving 84 trails that slice over 1,500 acres, Sugar Bowl provides great snow days for everyone. Sugar Bowl offers the Mountain Sports Learning Center (for ages 4 to 12). With a one-to-four ratio of instructors to kids, children receive ample individual attention. Ask about their Signature Program, where half- and all-day packages include lessons, rentals, lift tickets and lunch for the kids, leaving parents free to ski.
The little kids, ages 3 to 5, are called Sugar Bears (isn’t that a cute name?) and can play indoors and out, fully supervised, in a California-licensed daycare setting. Sugar Bears get their own little equipment, a magic carpet ride (100-foot-long moving sidewalk) to the bunny slope and are introduced at their little bear level to the sport. If they’re tired, they’ll go indoors for games, arts and crafts, and lunch.
Happily, Sugar Bowl also offers the Parent Ticket — one parent can ski, while the other parent is watching the baby. Then, they can swap, using the same lift ticket. Also, look for nice women-specific ski clinics, where you’ll learn to ski from a female instructor and, in certain classes, see a videotape of yourself before heading out to the slope again.
Sugar Bowl also offers a very budget-friendly General Admission package for everyone, ages 13 to 69. You’ll receive free rental equipment and a free, two-hour group lesson (for any level) on general admission days for the price of an Adult chair lift ticket.