The Best of California’s Snow Season

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Whether you’re an active skier, avid snowboarder, or just looking to have a good time at the resorts this winter, we’ve gathered the best of the best across the Golden State.

New at the Slopes

Tahoe Donner 
After six years of planning, Tahoe Donner will celebrate a new Cross Country Ski Area facility this winter season. The new building, known as the Alder Creek Adventure Center, will serve as the base area for Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Area in the winter months and Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center and Tahoe Donner Bikeworks in the spring and summer months. Alder Creek will be more energy efficient and environmentally conscious, offer an expanded dining area, bar and new kitchen, and much more. The resort will also introduce snowmaking to its facility, providing a snow-packed adventure for the wintertime.

Mammoth Lakes  

The Village at Mammoth Mountain

The Village at Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Lakes continues to evolve as a world-class winter destination with the new Black Doubt Brewery, Holiday Haus Hostel, electric snow tubing and an updated flight schedule from Denver International Airport during the winter 2015-16 season. Benefiting from its uniquely high elevation, Mammoth’s ski and snowboard season is the longest in California, slated to start this year on Veterans Day. With 7 months of snow the norm, there’s plenty of time to eat, drink, and experience everything that Mammoth Lakes has to offer.

Sugar Bowl Resort 
Sugar Bowl Resort will greet skiers and riders with several exciting new improvements this winter, including a newly designed and relocated terrain park, a new cross-country station and improved snowmaking. The new Sugar Bowl Resort/Woodward Tahoe season pass will allow unlimited access to Sugar Bowl and the freestyle training facility of Woodward Tahoe on Donner Summit. A new portal offers a seamless connection between the downhill ski runs of Sugar Bowl Resort and the cross-country ski trails of Royal Gorge, which will add the 10-kilometer trail “Thor’s Run” to its trail system, the largest in North America.

Big Bear Mountain Resorts 
Get ready to have a blast with the family at Big Bear Mountain Resorts (BBMR) this winter. The resort is introducing several exciting upgrades, including the new snow play tubing hill. The resort’s Tap House Restaurant at the top of Snow Summit will undergo a complete remodel with a new menu. BBMR’s snowmaking efforts will also be improved with new Snowcats, providing the most reliable snow conditions in Southern California. Snow bunnies should also check out the new Summit Select and Bear Select program, including a season locker, season parking pass and special club discounts for members.

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows 
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows will introduce a kids’ “Tahoe Fun Facts” map of the mountain this winter. Look for facts on signs in key locations that guests of all ages can locate by using the map. Explore the mountain to learn about snow, Lake Tahoe, animals and trees of the region. The map will be available to the public and will also be a part of the Squaw Kids and Alpine Kids learning programs.

At Squaw Kids, over $100,000 in investments to the building include new carpeting and flooring throughout, plus a refurbished entry and registration area that makes for more welcoming and efficient registration. Additionally, children enrolled in the Squaw Kids and Alpine Kids program will have the convenience of equipment valet. When registered for multiple days of instruction, Squaw and Alpine Kids’ skis or snowboard will be safely stored for them overnight, making it even more convenient for parents and kids to get out onto the slopes.

Après Ski Alternatives 

North Lake Tahoe

Reward yourself for a hard days’ work on the slopes with a visit to Le Chamois, one of the most iconic ski bars on the continent and a place that Powder Magazine called “a vortex that draws people in at the end of the day where they can brag about what they skied.” Some of the world’s greatest skiers and snowboarders have bellied up to the bar here — from Olympic Gold Medalist Jonny Moseley to Shane McConkey and Scot Schmidt. Located in Squaw Valley’s old Olympic House, the bar overflows out onto the snow in spring. Looking for an alternative to skiing in the area? North Lake Tahoe has plenty of non-ski activities year round. Head to Granlibakken for the Treetop Adventure Course, go sledding at Soda Springs or Mt. Rose Meadows, or opt for a snowshoe adventure with a guided tour, including full moon tours and moonlit dinner tours.

Bishop Getaway 
Where does a crisp, snowy mountain morning and a sunny, warm high desert afternoon add up to the perfect winter experience? In Bishop, of course. Add afternoon fishing in the Owens River to your morning cross-country ski tour. Follow freshies at Mammoth Mountain with rock climbing in the Gorge. Double up on downhill with a backcountry ski run and a front country bike ride, or go snowshoeing and build a snowman. Within 40 minutes drive or less, Bishop’s many adventures add up to the ideal snow vacation.

Heavenly Lake Tahoe 
Unbuckle at Tamarack, rated as the No. 1 après ski party in North America by Forbes and confirmed by CNN Travel, is Lake Tahoe’s highest elevation après ski party featuring music, drinking, dancing and the lovely Heavenly Angels – ripping skiers by day and go-go dancers when the sun dips below the Sierra. Après takes place daily from 3:30-5:30 p.m. with half-priced drinks and food specials and, exclusively on Fridays and Saturdays, a guest DJ, the Heavenly Angels, giveaways, and lots and lots of dancing, both inside and outdoors. New this season, check out the themed party weeks surrounding key holidays, like Mardi Gras, Spring Break and many more. From December 19-31, 2015, Heavenly Holidays transforms the Heavenly Village into a holiday winter wonderland with lights, decorations, magicians, jugglers, ice sculpting, a Ripperoo Parade and more. It all cumulates on New Year’s Eve, with a live band and brightly-lit Gondola that descends over the crowd, signaling the start of the New Year and a festive fireworks show.

Winter Deals 

Sierra Sophistication Ski Getaway 
The Landing Resort & Spa has partnered with Heavenly Mountain Resort to bring you the perfect weekend getaway package, including two full days on the slopes, delicious delights and luxurious accommodations. Getaway guests will enjoy a hassle-free weekend with seamless amenities – from ski valet, door-to-slopes transportation and fresh gear services, to an in-room après-ski reflexology foot treatment and fine dining beach side on Lake Tahoe. After a full day on the slopes, relax in The Landing’s Premium King or Queen Rooms featuring luxurious high-thread-count linens and a bath with jetted tub, walk-in rain shower and heated marble floor. Warm up in comfy leather chairs next to your own fireplace or enjoy the incredible Lake Tahoe sunsets on your walk-out deck. Experience Jimmy’s acclaimed modern California and Greek/Mediterranean cuisine before calling it a night.

Relax & Ride, Worry-Free Guarantee at Squaw Valley 
Squaw Valley has partnered with Burton Snowboards to host Burton Relax & Ride – an exclusive learning program for women snowboarders of all abilities. The program, for groups of two to six guests, is designed for women who have a tough time fitting winter sports into a busy schedule and crave a fun learning environment with friends. Burton beginner rental set up, a two-hour lesson and an afternoon spa treatment are all included for the price of $229 with lift ticket, or $169 for season pass holders. Relax & Ride is available every day of the season with the exception of peak dates. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is also making it easier than ever for skiers and snowboarders to commit to the purchase of next winter’s season pass. The resort is offering an unprecedented “Worry-Free Guarantee” to those who purchase the 2015-16 Gold or Silver Tahoe Super Pass. The “Worry-Free Guarantee” includes the ability to roll over up to four unused days during the 2015-16 winter season for credit toward the purchase of a 2016-17 Tahoe Super Pass.

Hit the Slopes Lodging and Ski at Northstar 
The Hit the Slopes Package returns for the 2015-16 winter season, combining lift tickets accessing the slopes at Northstar California Resort with the slope side accommodations and personalized guest service offered only by The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. The package includes Deluxe or Mountain View Slopeside guest room accommodations for four nights and two 3-day consecutive adult or child lift tickets valid at Northstar California Resort. The ski package is valid November 20, 2015 through April 13, 2016 with rates starting at $529 per night. Advanced reservations are required and subject to availability, and a four night length of stay is required.

Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area 
For the ultimate private party or team-building opportunity, the entire mountain at Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area can be booked out on select Tuesdays throughout the winter season for as low as $75 per person. Packages can be customized to include ski ticket, lesson, rental, barbecue and a full race course. Group functions can take place on the outside deck, which has comfortable seating, picnic tables and fire pits, or inside the spacious ski lodge. For smaller groups of 20 or more, additional group packages can be arranged daily for lift tickets, lessons, equipment and barbecue.

By California Travel & Tourism Commission

The California Travel & Tourism Commission is a non-profit organization with a mission to develop and maintain marketing programs – in partnership with the state’s travel industry – that keep California top-of-mind as a premier travel destination. Learn more here: www.visitcalifornia.com

Photo Credit: Squaw Valley Winter by Trevor Clark