Whether you’re searching for intense slopes, cozy vibes, or gourmet treats, the ski resorts (and surrounding towns) on the West Coast of the United States have got you covered.
With a record amount of snow in 2017, which allowed many West Coast ski resorts to stay open well into July, 2018 is primed to be a year when you can enjoy the snow culture from January and well into the summer.
1. Northstar Ski Resort
A premiere family-friendly resort in North Tahoe (shown in the featured image above), Northstar offers plenty of room for guests to explore: it has 3,170 acres, 97 groomed runs, and 20 lifts.
The resort is known for its epic tree runs and world-class terrain parks, including a 22-foot superpipe designed by iconic snowboarder Shaun White.
If you’ve been thinking about giving snowboarding a try, Northstar is the place to do it.
Sleep: Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort. Outdoor fire pits and hot tubs, rustic-chic rooms with cozy window seats and mountain views, a spa with all the right offerings, and a variety of restaurants, make this lakeside paradise an ideal choice after a day of snow sliding.
With complimentary shuttles to Northstar, running from mid-December until the end of March, the Hyatt offers much-deserved luxury, pampering, and convenience.
Eat: Lone Eagle Grille When a restaurant's food is so good that it transcends your taste buds and becomes an experience for your whole being, it’s worth a try.
The Lone Eagle Grille’s Chef Hammett carefully curates the menu, helping to ensure that every morsel of food leaving his kitchen will make the lucky recipient close their eyes, momentarily forget that other people exist, and fully immerse themselves in the experience of enjoying the edible goodness.
To keep things fresh, the Lone Eagle Grille has an evolving menu; all the food is inspired by the season. My tip? Because winter sports burn so many calories, say yes to the famous Baked Tahoe desert.
Explore: Borges Sleigh Rides. Everyone needs to experience at least one winter wonderland sleigh ride in their lifetime. The classic Borges Sleigh Rides check that box and then some.
Be ready to snuggle up in a sleigh for a one-hour private tour along Lake Tahoe and the surrounding pines, while your guide narrates the journey and stops for photo ops.
2. Squaw Valley
Acclaimed as a premier après ski destination and home to the 1960 Winter Olympics, Squaw is a mountain that pulls adventurers from across the world.
With 3,600 skiable acres, Squaw offers runs that stay within the comfort zone of skiers with any level of experience. Even better, it provides opportunities for those ready to ski out of that comfort zone. Approximately 25% of the runs are beginner level, 45% intermediate, and 30% advanced.
Sleep: The Village at Squaw Valley. Just steps from the slopes and perched in the heart of the valley's shopping and dining options, the luxury accommodation at The Village allows you to spend more time enjoying family and less time shuffling stuff around.
Many of the rooms feature a separate living room with a couch that folds out into a double bed. It's ideal for parents traveling with the kids.
Eat: Rocker at Squaw. Satisfy well-earned hunger with piles of gourmet mac 'n’ cheese, soft pretzels, and fully loaded burgers or nachos.
Adults can soothe their adrenaline with a craft beer or classic cold-weather cocktail and kids can re-up their sugar levels with a slice of maple bacon cake.
Explore: Tram Ride to High Camp. When this cable car drops you at 8,200 feet above sea level, you won’t be able to stop taking photos as you focus on the mountainscapes, creeks, and curious granite rock figures jutting out of the ground.
Beyond the thrill of the ride and the copious photo ops, High Camp has other perks: a dip in the hot tub, amazing people watching and superb spots for watching other people shimmy down the slops as you sip on a spiked hot chocolate.
3. Mammoth Mountain
For those who want the thrill of skiing down an active volcano (that hasn’t erupted since 1400), head to Mammoth, which is a mecca for alpine skiers and the U.S. Snowboarding Team.
With an elevation of 11,053-feet and 3,500 skiable acres, it could take you days to take in all this mountain has to offer.
Sleep: The Village Lodge Mammoth. If you like a vacation where you can forget you ever had a car, this is your dream hotel.
Located in the Village complex, this resort features a gondola that delivers guests directly to Mammoth Mountain’s Canyon Lodge.
Guests of the Village Lodge will also enjoy Mammoth’s largest selection of restaurants, a woodsy-chic ambiance, and serious “in the center of the action” vibes.
Eat: Mammoth Brewing Company. Because few things taste as good as a beer at the end of a long day cutting smooth lines through the snow, “Brew Co” is a favorite of the Mammoth locals.
Offering craft beers and a tasting room with Eatery by Bleu, which provides menus paired with the current beer selection, this stop will satisfy all your edible desires.
Explore: Electric Tubing at Woolly’s Tube Park. If you enjoy the snow but prefer to sit-and-slide instead of stand-and-slide, head to Woolly’s Tube Park.
This park is party central at night, with lighted groomed slopes for tubing, glow in the dark party favors, DJ jams, and the obligatory post-tubing hot cocoa.
4. June Mountain
June Mountain is a rare find in that it has gorgeous views, pristinely groomed runs, and almost zero lift lines (even on holidays weekends.)
So, what’s the deal? Why is such a primo ski destination underutilized?
The cause is nearby Mammoth Mountain, the popular resort that attracts many of the snow enthusiasts visiting Mono County. Which is great for June Mountain: a sweet snowy secret for you to discover.
Sleep: Double Eagle Resort and Spa. Nestled in a valley two miles past the June Mountain ski area, with the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains looming above it, most rooms at this resort offer views that make you forget that you have anywhere else to be.
At night, the moon illuminates the mountains, and the contrast between the pure black sky and downpour of stars creates an otherworldly effect. And, don’t forget to skip a day of skiing so you can enjoy the spa.
Eat: Eagle’s Landing Restaurant. This is the place to go if you want American nosh done right.
Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner Eagle’s Landing is a warm and woodsy eatery where you can sit by the massive fireplace and enjoy the mountain views while you wait for your cheeseburger or mountain nachos.
Explore: Snowshoeing. You don’t have to be strapped into skis to get a good workout in June Lake.
If you’re interested in exploring the winter ecosystem of the area, check in with the front desk at the Double Eagle Resort: they can point you in the right direction regarding snowshoe rentals and a map for the trails surrounding the property.
5. Heavenly Mountain Resort
The views from this resort are, well, heavenly. Any weary skier will find it hard not to stop and take in its vast scenic glory while on the slopes.
The 4,800 acres of skiable terrain makes Heavenly the largest ski resort in Lake Tahoe, and allows them to cater to every level of ability; the resort has 97 runs and 29 lifts.
The fun-loving ambiance of this resort, coupled with the drool-worthy views of Lake Tahoe and the Nevada desert, make it a destination you’ll want to spend plenty of time savoring.
Sleep: Marriott’s Timber Lodge. With the gondola to Heavenly located right next to the hotel, the convenience level of this spot couldn't be higher.
In addition, the small kitchens included in many of the rooms make this hotel a great option for families who don’t want to eat out for every meal.
Eat: Base Camp Pizza. Fresh ingredients, cold craft beer, and a jovial ambiance.
Many hail Base Camp Pizza as the best pizza they’ve ever had, so it can get crowded on weekends: go early, or know that the wait is well worth it.
Explore: Dog Sledding. If you enjoy the snow but want someone else to navigate it for you, let an expert musher and team of huskies pull you through a snowy Sierra landscape. You’ll be able to relax on a sled as you glide through alpine forests and scenic meadows at about 13.5 miles per hour.
6. Bear Mountain and Snow Summit
Situated in the San Bernadino Mountains, these twin-properties are go-to destinations for snowboard-loving weekend-warriors in Southern California.
The freestyle parks, including favorites like a superpipe and halfpipe, create a fantasyland for snowboarders, and with a lift ticket that’s good for both Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, you can spend the day popping back and forth between the properties, depending on what you’re in the mood for.
Sleep: WorldMark Big Bear. With stunning lake views, Southwestern décor, and fireplaces in many of the rooms, it might be hard to get you out of this warm and welcoming hotel and into the snow. But, with its central location to all of Big Bear’s major attractions, you won’t have to step out of the coziness for long. Oh, and the large indoor hot tube is a must after a day of boarding.
Eat: Peppercorn Grille. Offering classic comfort foods like clam chowder, potato skins, or an avocado-bacon Angus burger, your adrenaline-fueled body will be soothed with the belly-warming goodies served at Peppercorn Grille. If you have a hankering for some red meat, the filet mignon is my personal favorite.
Explore: Big Bear SnowPlay. The lift-assisted tubing at SnowPlay allows you to reap all the good-times rewards of tubing without doing the hard work.
Ride up the magic carpet with your tube in tow, choose a lane, and take off – then, rinse and repeat. If you’re too busy for tubing during the day, SnowPlay offers after dark “glow tubing” most evenings.
7. Homewood Mountain Resort
A laid-back ski area offering great value, minimal crowds, numerous beginner runs, and a manageable size of 1,260 acres, Homewood is a favorite resort for families, especially those with small children.
The icing on top is the view of Lake Tahoe from Homewood slopes, touted as some of the best, and the mountain staff who are known to be some of the kindest and most easygoing around.
Sleep: West Shore Café and Inn. Located directly across from the Homewood Mountain Resort, this lodging offers guest rooms, suites, and villas that overlook the West Shore of Lake Tahoe and provide fireplaces in many rooms.
Because they often have minimal vacancies, you should reserve well in advance.
Eat: Sunnyside Restaurant and Lodge. Enjoy new American menu options like crispy ricotta gnocchi, a sesame crusted salmon rice bowl, or crab & corn seafood chowder, while watching the happenings on Lake Tahoe.
And, if you enjoy having the perfect wine to pair with your meal, Sunnyside’s award-winning wine list will make sure you’re taken care of.
Explore: Cross Country Skiing at Sugar Pine Point State Park. Sometimes, gently gliding across the level snow, instead of careening down a steep slope, is the way to go.
If this sounds appealing, cross-country skiing might just be your jam. 15 minutes away from West Shore Café and Inn you’ll find 11-miles of groomed cross-country and snowshoe trails with many guided tours being provided by the state park throughout the season.
Check out more writing from Bailey Gaddis on her website.