What are the best places to ski near San Francisco?

Answers from Our Experts (2)

Katie Sweeney

The best skiing in Northern California is arguably found at Lake Tahoe. Located roughly three hours north of San Francisco, Lake Tahoe is home to seven ski resorts: Kirkwood, Alpine Meadows, Heavenly, Sierra, Northstar, Mt. Rose, and Squaw Valley. Combined, there are over 100 lifts located in Tahoe and many of the mountains have stunning views of the lake.

My favorite place for skiing in Tahoe is at the Northstar Resort. Northstar has 93 ski trails spread across 3,000 acres of land, snow sports, and summer activities like golfing and mountain biking. Also, the Ritz-Carlton and its luxurious restaurant Manzanita, are located in the middle of the Northstar mountain. The hotel has many wonderful amenities for avid skiers.

Tahoe is accessible by plane as the nearby international airport at Reno serves over 170 flights per day. Due note that during the winter season, on peak holiday weekends, the traffic getting to Tahoe from San Francisco can get pretty bad —  plan accordingly.

Kimberley Lovato

Any chance of a good snow storm, or following one, and most of the skiiers in the San Francisco Bay Area have one word on their mind:  Tahoe!

Lake Tahoe is America's largest Alpine Lake and a popular year-round destination for hikers, campers, and bikers. But skiing is tops among San Franciscans and Tahoe's pristine blue waters surrounded by snow-capped mountains harbor some of Northern California's best ski resorts. Located about 200 miles, or 3.5 hours (no traffic) from San Francisco, Tahoe is a favorite for winter sport lovers and families. From intimate and casual to sprawling world-class ski resorts, Lake Tahoe has something for every age and skill level.

Squaw Valley was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games and skiiers and snowboarders love its challenging terrain and runs, and there are some pretty awesome views of the lake too. Nearby Alpine Meadows offers diverse terrain and has more than 6,000 acres to ski. FYI: Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley USA now offer a combined season pass, to maximize your ski season. Northstar is off the lake a little bit, but the gorgeous setting is also popular for families, its stellar skiing, as well as the pretty village with 35 shops, restaurants, an ice rink, fire pits, and tons of après fun. The gorgeous Ritz Carlton in Northstar adds to the appeal for luxury travelers. Heavenly is one of Lake Tahoe’s largest and most visited resorts with jaw-dropping views, great ski and board conditions, with the highest elevation and the longest vertical drop in the Lake Tahoe area. 

The choices are endless, really, but there's a start.  Check out this website for more details.

FYI: Traffic can be a nightmare and the 3.5 hour trip has been known to take double the time during popular holidays and if weather slows things down.  Chains might also be required if you are driving in inclimate weather.  Reno Airport is the closest to  Lake Tahoe, about an hour away.  

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