A Snowy Wonderland
Snow play isn’t usually foremost in people’s minds when they think of California, but the state has some of the best skiing in the West. Mammoth Mountain is a magnet for skiers from Southern California, and the area around Lake Tahoe offers more options than anywhere in North America. A skier carves a turn in Cornice Bowl, one of Mammoth Mountain’s top runs, above.
Southern California has long been
known as a warm-weather winter vacation area, with sports and outdoor activities centered in San Diego and Los Angeles and desert retreats like Palm Springs. But the mountains of Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite and across the Sierra Nevada range beckon winter visitors who want to embrace snow-based sports and recreation.
In winter, Southern California is still an oasis for outdoor sports and adventure, from golf to tennis, hiking and horseback riding, whether in the still-baking desert around Palm Springs or the perpetually pleasant vacationland of San Diego or Los Angeles. But for those seeking winter sports, there may be no better place on earth than the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe. The area hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley and continues to be home base for many U.S. Winter Olympians who bang moguls, rip the half-pipes and race on downhill runs at more than a dozen area ski resorts. For the non-extreme, plenty of beginner trails, group lessons and smaller hills offer a safe introduction to the sport.
Tahoe ski resorts including Squaw Valley, Northstar and Heavenly also offer ice skating rinks and inner tube runs for those looking for more mellow activities, best complemented with a fire pit and toasted