Mammoth Mountain, CA

California Ski Resorts Ranked & Mapped

California has 23 ski resorts, most of which are located within the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. This amount is actually tied for third-most in the US behind New York and Michigan.

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.

ResortPassLocation
Alpine MeadowsIKONOlympic Valley, CA, 96146
Bear Valley MountainBear Valley, CA, 95979
Big Bear MountainBig Bear Lake, CA, 92315
BorealSoda Springs, CA, 95728
China PeakINDY,POWDBig Bar, CA, 96010
Dodge RidgePOWDPinecrest, CA, 95364
Donner Ski RanchNorden, CA, 95724
Granlibakken TahoeTahoe City, CA, 96145
HeavenlyEPICSouth Lake Tahoe, CA, 96150
HomewoodHomewood, CA, 96141
June MountainIKONJune Lake, CA, 93529
KirkwoodEPICKirkwood, CA, 95646
Mammoth MountainIKONMammoth Lakes, CA, 93546
Mount Shasta Ski ParkINDYMount Shasta, CA, 96067
Mountain HighPOWDWrightwood, CA, 92397
NorthstarEPICTruckee, CA, 96161
Palisades TahoeIKONOlympic Valley, CA, 96146
Sierra-at-TahoePOWDSouth Lake Tahoe, CA, 96155
Snow SummitIKONBig Bear Lake, CA, 92315
Snow Valley MountainINDYRunning Springs, CA, 92382
Soda SpringsSoda Springs, CA, 95728
Sugar BowlTruckee, CA, 96161
Tahoe DonnerTruckee, CA, 96161

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.

Rank ResortGreen TrailsBlue TrailsBlack TrailsDifficulty ScoreTM
#1Palisades Tahoe8%33%59%76%
#2Heavenly8%62%30%71%
#3Mammoth Mountain15%48%37%68%
#4June Mountain15%40%45%66%
#5China Peak11%28%61%64%

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.

Rank ResortGreen TrailsBlue TrailsBlack TrailsDifficulty ScoreTM
#1Granlibakken Tahoe50%50%0%14%
#2Tahoe Donner40%50%10%25%
#3Boreal30%55%15%29%
#4Soda Springs53%16%31%30%
#5Donner Ski Ranch25%50%25%37%

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.

Rank ResortSummit ElevationBase ElevationVertical DropAcresTrails
#1Heavenly10,067 ft6,540 ft3,527 ft4,80097
#2Mammoth Mountain11,053 ft7,953 ft3,100 ft3,500150
#3Palisades Tahoe9,050 ft6,200 ft2,850 ft6,000245
#4June Mountain10,090 ft7,500 ft2,590 ft1,50043
#5Kirkwood9,800 ft7,800 ft2,000 ft2,30081