San Francisco is a magical, beautiful, exciting place, with one caveat – there’s never any snow. Lucky for us, California is home to dozens of different climates and it’s not so difficult to pack up the car for a drive out to the snowy mountains in the distance. Here are 12 places to go and enjoy a snow day near the Bay Area.
IMPORTANT: Make sure to check the weather and snow conditions before heading out.
Pinecrest Lake is a picturesque lake and town located in Stanislaus National Forest. Be sure to check out the Sonora Pass hiking trails or nearby Dodge Ridge.
2. Dodge Ridge
Dodge Ridge is a family-owned ski resort in the Stanislaus National Forest, boasting 862 skiable acres and 1600 vertical feet. Not far from the Bay Area, Dodge Ridge provides an accessible and fun getaway from the city. A little Dodge Ridge powder day secret: You can find untracked powder stashes for numerous days following new snowfall. Dodge Ridge also has some of the best lift ticket prices in the Sierra and no peak pricing!
Arnold is famous for housing the Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Enjoy plenty of mountain sports or take a walk under the dazzling giant sequoias, which were the first to be discovered in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
4. Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is world famous for its summertime activities but it’s equally enchanting during the fall and winter months when snow blankets the mountains and valleys of this dramatic park. The Valley Loop Trail and Yosemite Falls Trail are favorites during the winter season, as well as the park’s snow play areas and ice skating rink. Tire chains may be required during the winter months but frequent snow plows keep most of the main roads open year-round.
5. Bear Valley
Bear Valley is home to the famous Bear Valley Ski Resort. Find fantastic skiing and snowboarding opportunities on their manicured runs, or pop down to nearby Spicer Sno-Park for family-friendly snow play options.
6. Leland High Sierra Snowplay
Leland High Sierra Snowplay claims to be the “biggest and best snow play facility in the Sierra,” and for good reason. They have 12 acres of snow play areas at an elevation of 6300 feet, and they’re quite affordable and perfect for families.
7. North Lake Tahoe
There’s no shortage of activities and beautiful views in North Lake Tahoe, which is the more accessible side of the lake when coming from the Bay Area. The Palisades Tahoe ski resort was home to the 1960 Winter Olympics, and the entire region remains a renowned winter holiday destination. Enjoy amazing spas, hotels, resorts, and restaurants.
8. South Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is a popular winter destination for a reason. In bustling South Lake Tahoe, you’ll find a winter wonderland in places like Heavenly Mountain Resort which offers extraordinary skiing and snowboarding with breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area. The region also offers ample opportunities for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snow tubing, and other opportunities to get out and play in the snow.
9. Echo Lake
Find Echo Lake in a serene, secluded mountain area just a few miles from South Lake Tahoe. Popular wintertime activities include cross-country skiing and dog sledding.
10. Lake Alpine
You can’t get much more fun than Lake Alpine Sno-Park. It’s a well-groomed snowy landscape for snowmobiles, cross-country skiing and sledding. Snow play is allowed anywhere, but you can also head to nearby Spicer and Round Valley Sno-Parks.
11. Iron Mountain
Iron Mountain Sno-Park is an abandoned ski resort turned snow play area. It’s ideal for snowmobiling, sledding, cross-country skiing, dog sledding, and snowshoeing.
12. Mammoth Lakes
If you’re willing to take a slightly longer drive, Mammoth Lakes is worth the trip. The storybook scenery itself is spectacular. But you’ll also find amazing skiing and snowboarding opportunities at Mammoth Mountain, and a great family-friendly ski resort at June Mountain.