While California isn’t always top of mind for skiing, it provides access to abundant family-friendly resorts that offer a variety of trails for all levels of experience. And since California has experienced so much rain recently that’s led to record snowpack, the skiing conditions are more epic than ever this season.
Angelenos with kids have a great opportunity to go skiing in a wide array of fun California road trip destinations. For elevated family ski experiences, aim to visit Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain and Lake Tahoe. And for day trips or easy weekend getaways that are closer to Los Angeles, I would recommend Big Bear, Mountain High and Mt. Baldy.
Read along for more information on these fantastic skiing options that are easily accessible and fun for the whole family.
Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area is one of the most sought out winter sports locations on the West Coast, offering world-class skiing and snowboarding opportunities. Mammoth Mountain is located a quick 5 hours north of Los Angeles in Mammoth Lakes, a charming alpine community with a laidback vibe. And if you’d prefer to fly to the Eastern Sierra, Advanced Airlines now offers one-hour, direct flights from Burbank to Mammoth Yosemite Airport.
With a summit of 11,053 feet, Mammoth Mountain is California’s highest ski resort and is legendary for its deep, high-quality snow from November through late spring—averaging 400 inches of snowfall annually! Slope to slope, there’s over 3,500 acres of skiable terrain to explore with 150 runs that can be accessed by 28 lifts.
Thanks to its sensational variety of options for skiing, lodging, and dining — all within a compact reach— Mammoth is sure to satisfy every age and every level of expertise. There are even ample activities for those who don’t care for skiing, including snow tubing, snowmobiling, scenic gondola rides and snowcat tours.
And while you’re visiting the Eastern Sierra, it would behoove you to check out June Mountain, Mammoth Mountain’s sister resort located twenty miles north of Mammoth. This resort is known as the “Switzerland of California” due to its jaw-dropping scenery. And because June Mountain has nearly half the attendance of Mammoth, this quaint, small-town resort may be more manageable for some families.
At around a seven-to-eight-hour drive from Los Angeles, South Lake Tahoe is totally worth the trip for the bounty of family-friendly skiing options it offers. My two favorite ski resorts when visiting the south shore of Lake Tahoe are Heavenly Tahoe and Sierra-at-Tahoe.
There’s an undeniable reason why Heavenly Ski Resort continues to be one of Lake Tahoe’s most visited resorts: not only does Heavenly boast the highest elevation in the Tahoe region, but the breathtaking scenery here is truly in a league of its own. As Tahoe’s largest resort, it offers around 28 lifts and 97 runs spanning nearly 5,000 acres. And while Heavenly’s larger size is still super accessible, I recommend having a ski buddy to help navigate the region. The best areas to ski here straddle the dividing line between California and Nevada in Lake Tahoe, and our family really enjoyed the variety of being able to ski and snowboard in both states. From beginner to advanced levels, Heavenly has it all.
Sierra-at-Tahoe has such a welcoming, mellow vibe that caters to families. Our family thoroughly enjoyed enrolling in skiing and snowboarding school at Sierra-at-Tahoe. This is an exemplary family-friendly resort since everyone can go ski and explore off on their own and easily navigate back to the base lodges. There’s 2,000 acres of powder-filled terrain here, along with 14 lifts and 47 trails. There’s even a special area specifically designated for small skiers and snowboarders, so it’s a great place for first timers to get accustomed to winter sports. Families will find this ski resort welcoming and easy to navigate.
Located in the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear offers Los Angeles families access to snow within two hours in the car. While Big Bear has a more extended season than other Southern California ski resorts, you will still want to check to make sure there’s snow. There’s bountiful cabin rentals and a nice variety of lodging in the Big Bear Lake resort community. And since crowds and lift lines can be an issue, it may be better to pick a weekday to visit for the first time if possible.
Situated around 70 miles from Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Mountains, Mountain High is a family-friendly resort with a total of 14 lifts across 290 acres of skiable terrain. There are three separate mountains ranging from beginner to advanced terrain. Moreover, the absence of any mountain driving to get there makes this a particularly appealing option for families looking for a day trip or an overnight jaunt. Other family-friendly features include group lessons for children ages 7-12, a tubing park and a snow play area.
Situated approximately 45 miles outside of the Los Angeles region, Mt. Baldy is the closest resort in terms of driving time. This resort is an optimal choice for a quick and easy day trip from LA. Mt. Baldy has 4 lifts that provide access to over 4,000 acres of skiable terrain. However, Mt. Baldy is ideally suited for more advanced-level ski families, as the rarely crowded mountain features more backcountry-style terrain.