Though summer encourages plenty of travel across the globe (especially for folks in the southern hemisphere), there are adventures and entertainment to be found in the off-season too. Case in point? Skiing and other snow sports.

California is famous for a lot of things, but snow isn't often counted among them. So travelers might be surprised to learn that there are tons of ski resorts in the west coast state; at least 34, in fact.

It shouldn't be surprising, given that the Sierra Nevada ranges form the eastern edge of the state, and the local history includes plenty of stories about settlers caught in blizzards (visiting Donner Pass in the summertime is an interesting trip).

Truth be told, ski resorts throughout California are known for some of the highest snowfall in the country, and some even say they rival those in more luxe destinations. Here are ten of the highest-reviewed ski resorts in California.

10 Mammoth Ski Resort, Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Ski Resort tops out at just over 11,000 feet in elevation, and they brag about its status as the highest lift-served resort (that offers activities in all four seasons).

Of course, for skiers and snowboarders, the winter powder is the highlight when all 1,500 acres of slopes are covered in feet of snow.

  • Activities : Skiing, snowboarding, gondola rides, cross-country skiing, tube park, snowmobile rides
  • Opening Dates : Typically mid-November

9 Palisades Tahoe, Olympic Valley

Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley) may not be on the highest Sierra Nevada peak (it's at 8,200 feet elevation), but it does have a lot to offer in winter and in the off-season.

An aerial tram is a highlight to view all of Lake Tahoe from above, and indoor activities (like yoga, rollerskating, and an Olympic museum) can be enjoyed any time of year.

In 1960, the Olympic Winter Games were held at Alpine Meadows, but the culture is clearly oriented toward beginners and families — both here and at the nearby Alpine Meadows.

  • Activities : Skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing (including disco tubing), snowshoeing, aerial tram, cross-country skiing
  • Opening Dates : Generally late November

8 Alpine Meadows (Alpine Meadows, CA)

Technically, Alpine Meadows is part of Palisades Tahoe, but it's worth calling out on its own due to its reputation for being beginner-friendly. Alpine has 100 trails of its own, offering something for everyone, and events like a snow golf tournament add to the fun.

  • Activities : Skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing (including disco tubing), snowshoeing, aerial tram, cross-country skiing
  • Opening Dates : Generally late November

7 Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Kirkwood

Kirkwood is operated by Vail Resorts, which manages resorts across the US, Canada, and Australia. Yet Kirkwood still has a local feel and attracts plenty of flatlanders from the Bay Area as it's not too long of a trip out of the valley.

This epic California ski resort also has 2,000 feet of vertical drop slopes, and more than 2,300 acres of terrain, culminating in a summit at 9,800 feet elevations.

  • Activities : Skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, private skiing expeditions, backcountry skiing
  • Opening Dates : Typically, early December

6 Bear Valley Resort, Bear Valley

On the smaller side of still-epic ski resorts in the golden state, Bear Valley Resort offers up 1,900 vertical feet of slopes, with 1,680 acres of terrain. A summit at 8,500 feet gives amazing panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada, with Mokelumne Peak as a central landmark (even when guests are glamping lakeside at 7,750 feet).

5 Sugar Bowl, Norden

Its reputation precedes it, and for a good reason; Sugar Bowl has twelve lifts (including a gondola) and prioritizes its snowmaking each season to stretch out the slopes' viability.

Sugar Bowl has 1,650 skiable acres and receives about 500 inches of snow each year, which is augmented by snowmaking.

Related: Family Friendly Skiing: These Winter Resorts Are Perfect For Anyone Traveling With Kids

Summit elevation here is 8,383 feet at the peak of Mount Lincoln (one of four peaks, each with multiple runs).

4 Big Bear Mountain Resort, Big Bear Lake

Big Bear actually has two mountain locations that are two miles apart; Bear Mountain at 8,805 feet and Snow Summit with the tube park and more family-friendly trails.

Bear Mountain has terrain parks with halfpipes, but it also caters to beginners with an expansive area where newbies can get their snow legs.

And no worries if the snowfall is measuring low; Bear Mountain has an "extensive" snowmaking system.

  • Activities : Skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, terrain parks
  • Opening Dates : Generally mid to late November

3 Heavenly Lake Tahoe, Tahoe

Heavenly has a lot going for it, and the resort isn't afraid to brag; it boasts "outrageous tree skiing," dual-state skiing options (California or Nevada, whatever one's pleasure), 1,600-foot drops, and amazing vistas for skiers who pause long enough to admire the view.

Related: New To Skiing? Here Are The Resorts You Should Consider Booking First

It's worth noting that Heavenly is another Vail property, so it's a very resort-style feel.

2 Sierra-At-Tahoe Resort, Twin Bridges

Sierra-at-Tahoe is one of the area's largest, offering 2,000 acres of snow (and ten chairlifts). But it also has a unique personality; this ski resort opened in 1946 and, over the years, has won awards for its environmentally friendly operations, plus survived and recovered after a local wildfire (the Caldor fire in 2021).

An elevation of over 8,800 feet and about 480 inches of snowfall per year mean plenty of snowy fun during the winter season.

  • Activities : skiing, snowboarding, mountain tubing, snow play, snowshoeing, mountain tours
  • Opening Dates : Generally late November

1 Boreal Mountain California, Soda Springs

Boreal Mountain is a highly-rated California ski resort that typically receives about 500 inches of snow per year, and it's often one of the first resorts to open for the season (depending on local conditions, of course).

A terrain park, plus 380 acres of snow with 41 runs, offers something for everyone.

  • Activities : Skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, terrain parks with mini pipe.
  • Opening Dates : Typically late November