El Niño conditions have brought early snowfall to several top California ski resorts. The mountain resorts have been able to take advantage of cold temperatures to make even more mounds of snow, enticing skiers and snowboarders to dust off their gear and make tracks for the slopes.
It’s not too early to start planning your family ski vacation, even in California, where several mountain resorts have already received a good snow base and are operating ahead of schedule. Several top California ski resorts have opened or will be opening well before Thanksgiving. If you plan to hit the slopes often this year, now is a good time to buy discounted season passes.
Located just 90 minutes from Los Angeles and Orange Counties, Mountain High opened its Coyote chairlift. This beginner to lower-intermediate trail is ideal for warming up your ski and snowboard skills. The resort expects to be open top to bottom by Nov. 14.
Opening six days ahead of schedule (and the earliest openings in three years), Heavenly and Northstar California Resort are kicking off the ski season Nov. 14. The resorts have already received several feet of snow and forecasts are predicting more storms on the horizon. The recent big snowfalls combined with around-the-clock snow-making have created a great early-season base and the best snow surface conditions at Lake Tahoe.
Heavenly plans to operate the Gondola, Tamarack Express and Dipper Express, accessing upper California Trail and Orion’s, which, at over a mile long, will be the longest run available in the Tahoe basin.
Northstar will open top-to-bottom, spinning the Big Springs Gondola, Vista Express, Arrow Express and Comstock Express accessing West Ridge, Luggi’s, Skid, Pinball, Lumberjack and Lower Main Street. Northstar will also operate a surface lift near the Big Easy Chair to offer children’s ski and snowboard lessons.
In addition, Alpine Meadows starts operating Nov. 12 and Squaw Valley Ski Resort by Nov. 14. Kirkwood is scheduled to open Nov. 21.
Big Bear Lake
Good natural snow along with excellent snow-making conditions enable Bear Mountain and Snow Summit to open Nov. 13. Opening day tickets are just $35. Bear Mountain will be open top-to-bottom via chairs 9 and 7. The terrain park will be ready top-to-bottom as well. Following opening weekend, Bear Mountain will be accessible weekends only until Dec. 11.
At Snow Summit, popular Miracle Mile and Chair 4 beginner area will be open. Family-friendly Snow Summit will continue operating seven days a week.
Mammoth Mountain Resort
With its location in the Sierras, it’s no surprise that Mammoth stays open late in the season (often until July 4) and starts operating by early November. This year’s big snowfall enabled the resort to open on Nov. 5, but the official kick-off is this weekend.