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5 Amazing Places for Backcountry Skiing in California

If you don’t live in California, chances are your first thoughts of the West Coast state are sunshine and blue skies (and maybe rain for San Francisco). Truth is, however, there are some amazing opportunities for backcountry skiing in California.

backcountry skiing in california

Californians sometimes boast of the fact that, traffic permitting, they can ski and snowboard in the mountains one morning, hop in their car, and be surfing by lunchtime. And this is no exaggeration.

If you are looking for the best destinations for backcountry skiing in California, you’ll find them right here. These parks, lakes, and mountains provide all you need for the best backcountry skiing in California.

Yosemite National Park

One of the most famous national parks in America, Yosemite is known for its sundrenched hiking opportunities.

yosemite skiing

Come winter and the heavy snowfall, however, Yosemite National Park becomes a winter wonderland for backcountry skiing in California.

Rocky cliffs and steep slopes; the tallest trees coated in a shimmering white powder. Yosemite is a place of incredible natural beauty all year round, but in winter it is like something out of a dream. What better backdrop to some California skiing could you find?

This being backcountry skiing, however, the environment is dangerous and unpredictable. Yosemite is now a place perfectly nurtured and groomed for skiing. It’s a wild and rugged place that takes time to master. That, of course, adds to the fun and the adrenaline of it all.

Skiing in Yosemite National Park is best done in and around March. That’s usually the time when the powder provides the best backcountry skiing conditions.

What makes Yosemite stand out as an outstanding place for backcountry skiing in California is the fact that you can camp out under the stars, wake up, and head out for an early morning cross-country ski. Freedom doesn’t come better than this.

Lake Tahoe and Sugar Bowl

sugar bowl skiing

Lake Tahoe is a uniquely beautiful part of California, surrounded as it is by rugged terrain and mountains. Hills and slopes of all differing sizes make for the perfect natural setting for different stages of skiing expertise.

From beginner to pro, there are part of the Lake Tahoe area that are perfect for backcountry skiing in California.

North Lake Tahoe is home to Squaw Valley, the creme-de-la-creme of backcountry skiing destinations in California. This area of Northern California actually holds the record for the largest single ski area in the continental United States.

For a true backcountry skiing experience, Kirkwood offers a vastly varied and exciting terrain for experienced skiers.

It’s a remote part of the Lake Tahoe area that gets a reliable amount of snowfall, perfect for immersing yourself in a California ski experience.

If you’re looking for an ideal ski resort, Sugar Bowl can provide. The resort’s lengthy history has given it decades to accumulate a pretty legendary name for itself.

Mammoth Mountain

mammoth mountian skiing

The excellently named Mammoth Mountain provides a whopping 3,500 acres of snow-covered terrain for those hunting some backcountry skiing in California.

The Mammoth Mountain Ski Area provides plenty of opportunity for skiing, snowboarding, and even snowmobiling.

Gondolas around the area provide easy access up and down Mammoth Mountain, and the strangely high levels of snowfall provide plenty of time and space for some of the best backcountry skiing in California.

Mount Shasta

Mt. Shasta is an active (yes, active) volcano. That element certainly adds a nice amount of hypothetical danger. As a place for backcountry skiing in California, Mt. Shasta is also famous for the challenge of getting to the top.

mount shasta skiing

Climbing Mt. Shasta to its summit depends on a lot of factors, the most important of which being the weather, but getting there is its own reward. Well, that and then having one of the best ski experiences in California open up before you.

It goes without saying that the route from the summit is for experienced skiers only. It does not play around; it does not forgive amateur or beginner skiers. Know what you’re doing.

Avalanche Gulch is another ski route option for those less-than-expert skiers looking to tackle Mt. Shasta.

June Mountain

The aforementioned Mammoth Mountain offers a pretty celebrated and beloved backcountry ski experience.

june mountain

Drive thirty minutes north, however, and you’ll come to June Mountain. This is a far lesser-known hidden gem of the world of backcountry skiing in California.

This ski area offers a big range of slopes for everyone from beginner to pro. June Mountain is where to go if you want to escape the hustle and bustle that Mammoth Mountain lures in, especially on the weekends. It might be lesser-known but it is no less incredible when you’re skiing the powder.

From June Mountain’s summit, down the powder chute, to the incredible Superpipe, expert skiers, snowboarders, and budding beginners will all find something to draw them out onto the wild slopes of June Mountain.

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