We also rated California as the best state to build a National Park and ski trip from.
List of All California Ski Resorts
Skiing can get expensive. Besides equipment rentals, ski lift passes are expensive and really add up if you have a family. To combat this, multi-resort, multi-day lift passes were created to help offset this cost a bit. Buying lift pass days in bulk will usually net you around a 20% discount.
EPIC and IKON are the two most well known mult-resort lift passes available. Both have season-long passes, but also sell multi-day ones as well. IKON is the most frequently used multi-resort pass in California, with it being associated with 5 resorts. EPIC has 3 California resorts within its network. Two others: INDY and Powder Alliance each have 4.
Explaining Our ‘Difficulty Score’
Parks & Trips created a proprietary Difficulty Score that is generated by looking at the number of easy-intermediate-expert slopes by acreage and the maximum vertical drop of the overall resort.
Our algorithm compares each resort’s metrics with all others in North America, then gives each a Difficulty Score, which we use to rank them accordingly. Resorts with a lower score are easier than those with a higher one. However, a high score does not mean that the resort does not have any easy slopes, or vice versa. This is just an overall score given to the resort based on all its metrics grouped together.
The Most Difficult California Ski Resorts
The two most difficult ski resorts in California are in the Lake Tahoe area. Palisades (formerly Squaw Valley) and Heavenly are both very steep and very big resorts with a lot of expert-level trails. Mammoth and June are only 21 miles apart, which allows you to build a very easy trip between the two.
The Easiest Ski Resorts in California
All five of the easiest ski resorts in California are located around Lake Tahoe. However, Granlibakken is a bit different than the others. This ski area has a family-atmosphere and is a go to spot for those visiting Tahoe with young children.
The Largest Ski Resorts in California
Choosing the largest ski resorts is a bit of a tricky proposition. Do you look at just the summit elevation? How about the total acreage, most trails, or steepest vertical drop?
Well, we decided to combine all four of those metrics into one ranking to get the best idea, although we fully admit this is completely subjective. We’ve given you all the data in the following table to make your own decision.
Heavenly wins our award for largest ski resort in California due to its massive 3,500-plus foot vertical drop. This is what Heavenly is known for, and it certainly delivers. Neighboring Palisades Tahoe has the most trails, and Mammoth Mountain has the highest summit elevation. No matter which resort you chose out of these five, the skiing will all be massive.