Sunny, sand covered beaches and sky-high palm trees probably come to mind when most people picture California. While we are lucky to have pretty much perfect weather year round (we’re not biased or anything), we are also fortunate to have the best of both worlds with snow-capped mountains only a short drive away in the winter. There’s no need to travel far and wide to find some snow around California. Regardless if you’re traveling from San Francisco or Los Angeles, you have a ton of great places to see some snow - only a short drive away. Check out our top four favorite places to see some powder in California:
LA-living gets that much better during the colder winter months when you know you’re heading on a road trip to Running Springs. This mountainous region within Inland Empire is home to several resorts and lodges near the San Bernardino National Forest, including Snow Valley Mountain Resort. As the oldest operating resort in Southern California, Snow Valley Mountain Resort is a snow-loving, history buff’s paradise. The resort started out as a roadside resort and lumber mill back in the 1920s, but has since transformed into a thriving ski resort where you can enjoy skiing on 240 acres.
There’s so much to do around the Snow Valley Mountain Resort. The resort itself offers ski lessons and one of the longest runs for sledding in the area. You can also enjoy lodging with gorgeous mountain views and a cozy fireplace to keep you warm and relaxed after a long road trip or ski adventure.
Big Bear Lake
About 100 miles outside of Los Angeles rests one the best places to see snow in California: Big Bear Lake. Thanks to its proximity to Los Angeles, you can easily take a road trip to this scenic spot in just a matter of hours. Big Bear is home to nearly 1,000 acres of skiable terrain and offers plenty to do and see in the winter time. When the temperature drops, Big Bear is the ultimate place to travel if you’re searching for gorgeous, snow-covered views. There’s also tons of fun things to do with friends and family like snow tubing and snowboarding.
Big Bear Lake is also the perfect destination to explore some pretty cool offbeat trails. One of our personal favorites is the the beginner-friendly trail of Big Pine Flat Trail. Travel down this trail just north of Big Bear Lake to view snow-doused, rocky hills and instagram-worthy forests. Whether you prefer snowboarding or snow tubing, the powder around Big Bear Lake is pretty hard to beat!
Just 200 miles outside of San Francisco, you can find a classic Bay Area favorite - Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is one of the very best places to catch snow just within and outside of California thanks to its high altitudes and snow-capped mountains. Fun random fact: the tap water in Tahoe is known to have the United States’ best-tasting drinking water and attracts 2.7 million visitors annually. This area is a popular favorite for San Franciscans who are up for a snow-filled getaway resting on the border of California and Nevada. It’s not hard to find tons of activities to do in the popular ski resorts in and around Lake Tahoe. Snowboarding, tubing, sledding and skiing make for some fun ways to really enjoy the snow.
Head North to explore the nearby Sugar Bowl Resort in Norden, California, where you can find four mountain peaks and 103 trails. You’re bound to catch snow this winter season since this area typically receives over 500 inches of snow annually, which is more than almost any other place in North America. Venture further southeast of Norden and you’ll come across Squaw Valley USA and the Alpine Meadows along the Truckee River. At Alpine Meadows, you’ll find over 6,000 acres of land available for skiing. There are also stunning lake views and terrains at Squaw Valley. Not looking to get in the snow? Ice skating and bungee jumping make for entertaining alternatives.
If you’re driving from San Francisco, you can escape the city and enjoy a quick weekend getaway to the Central Sierra Mountains. Bear Valley is a perfect Lake Tahoe alternative just south of the region. It’s also the ideal location for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The mountain at Bear Valley sees an annual snowfall of about 30 feet on average, and you’ll also find tons of skiing and snowboarding options at popular ski resorts, such as the Big Bear Mountain Resort and Bear Valley Resort. The resorts of Bear Valley offer access to about 1,700 acres with 75 trails and nine lifts. Not too shabby if you ask us. With so many different terrain options, Bear Valley is a fantastic travel destination whether you’re a novice or a seasoned ski bum.
The wintertime is one of the best times of year to take a road trip, and there’s no other better place to do it than right here in California. If you need a car with four-wheel drive and plenty of trunk room for all your gear, we’ve got your back with tons of options like the Ford Escape and Ford Explorer. So grab the keys, load up the car, and get ready to shred some serious gnar (or relax in a cozy cabin with gorgeous views of the snow). Winter is coming!