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Cath Howard

Sugar Bowl

Sugar Bowl
Sweet and snowy Sierra treasure

This snow-snagging resort is rightly named—sugary drifts often pile up here, make it a favourite destination for skiers, especially after a big Sierra storm rolls through. An easy drive from the Bay Area and less than two hours northeast of Sacramento, Sugar Bowl is ultra-popular with families looking for an easy ski getaway.

Sugar Bowl has a tucked-away, off-the-grid feel—the road in off Interstate 80 is lined mostly with snowy forests, not condos and hotels, and when it snows, the little base village looks a bit like a snow globe sprung to life. Add the average 500 inches/1,270 centimetres of snow per season, varied terrain on four peaks, and pristine backcountry (much of it laced with trails at Sugar Bowl’s sister cross-country resort, Royal Gorge—the largest Nordic resort in North America), and you’ve got a pretty sweet find in the Sierra.

Insider tip: The Tahoe Super Pass lets you ski and snowboard at Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Sugar Bowl, and Sierra at Tahoe.

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Thomas H. Story/ Sunset Publishing

Discover the High Sierra

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45
October
Average (°F)
Sept - Nov
66°
High
26°
Low
Dec - Feb
39°
High
21°
Low
Mar - May
55°
High
23°
Low
June - Aug
72°
High
41°
Low

Snow-covered peaks in winter, gushing waterfalls in spring, wildflower meadows and glistening lakes in summer, vibrant colors in fall—this is a land of dramatic and wild beauty. World-class mountain resorts circling turquoise-blue Lake Tahoe, and at Mammoth Lakes cater to all, with scenic ski trails in winter and trails and vistas in summer.

Yosemite Valley…is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and gold and wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”  --photographer Ansel Adams

Yosemite National Park, a World Heritage Site, is here, roughly 3½ hours east of San Francisco. Whether you hike a mountain, ski the steeps, or lounge in a hot tub beneath a canopy of stars, you’ll find your perfect getaway. 

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John Dickey/TandemStock.com

THE CALIFORNIA QUESTIONNAIRE: Alex Honnold

The El Capitan free-solo rock climber explains his love for Yosemite and more California favorites

On June 3, 2017, Honnold became the first person to ever ascend El Capitan, the 3,000-foot granite wall in...

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Room/Getty Images

Lone Pine

Discover the natural beauty and another side of California in a historic Owens Valley small town

Head to Lone Pine to see a different side of California—one that is less connected to...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Find whitewater rafting fun for all—from newbies to nerves-of-steel experts

Think of a river, and chances are you’ve got your own daydream. Maybe you want to float on inner tubes, or maybe your style is to careen through raucous rapids in an eight-person inflatable raft....

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Groveb/Getty Images
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Chris Falkenstein

Yosemite in Winter

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Visit during the park’s quietest season for unforgettable snowy beauty

With its iconic granite domes and spires etched in snow, and a hushed beauty that’s both intimate and wild, Yosemite National Park makes a magical...

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CLIF Bar/Mason Mashon

The California Questionnaire: Jeremy Jones

The professional snowboarder’s biggest conundrum is deciding which Sierra Nevada adventure to tackle next

As a pioneer of big mountain snowboarding, professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones has climbed treacherous backcountry peaks all over the world just...

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In Yosemite Valley, the Merced River drops over 594-foot Nevada Fall and then 317-foot Vernal Fall, creating what is known as the Giant Staircase.
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At 14,505 ft. above sea level, Mt. Whitney is the highest point in the contiguous United States.
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Toni Zernik

Truckee

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This charming mountain town is the central hub for North Shore destinations

Up and over the hill from Lake Tahoe’s north shore, Truckee offers an easy base that’s away from the hubbub. Historically a logging town, Truckee...

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family-friendly resorts, snowy escapes

High Sierra peaks, deep drifts on a Mammoth volcano, family-friendly resorts, snowy escapes on the edge of Yosemite and more—California has enough alpine destinations to keep any skier or boarder...

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Relax after a day on the slopes

Kicking back after you kick off your boots is a snow-country tradition, and there’s plenty of post-slopes fun at California’s top alpine resorts. Have a beer or warm up with an Irish coffee, dance...

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Jeff Enegerbretson
Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.
Ansel Adams
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Trip 6-7 days 10 stops

Sierra Adventure

Granite peaks, alpine valleys, towering trees-the High Sierra is nature's playground all year-round
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Blue as a topaz and circled by majestic peaks, this High Sierra gem straddling the California-Nevada border is a bucket-list staple, a place where the air is “very pure and fine...it is the same the angels breathe,” according to author Mark Twain. Lakefront towns dot the shoreline, each with...

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On your way to this park, save time to visit the charming Gold Country town of Murphys (a great place for wine tasting and innovative dining along the town’s main street). Then continue north and east to discover peaceful groves of giant sequoias at this under-the-radar park. Established in 1931...

January-February

Experience one of California’s most magical settings, the Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly Ahwahnee) in winter, during this intimate and outstanding event. Some of the best chefs in the country...

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Courtesy of DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite
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Rachid Dahnoun/Aurora Photos

Spotlight: Lake Tahoe

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Majestic peaks encircle a turquoise-blue, year-round playground

Blue as a topaz and circled by majestic peaks, this High Sierra gem straddling the California-Nevada border is a bucket-list essential. Where else...

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Rebecca Garrett

Spotlight: Mammoth Lakes

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Snowy winters, wildflower summers

Surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the west, folks in this laid-back mountain town know they’ve got a good thing going. It’s a land of...

As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface, I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.
Mark Twain (recalling his first sighting of Lake Tahoe)
July - August

With a pine-and-peak alpine setting and a relaxed and friendly ambiance, this appealing event in Bear Valley, roughly halfway between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, includes performances by outstanding...

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Courtesy of Bear Valley Music Festival
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Kodiak Greenwood

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve

Visit bizarre formations, cinder cones, and a super-salty lake

There are few places in California—and maybe on the planet—that can make you think you might just be on Mars. This is one of them. At this high-...

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Kodiak Greenwood

Bodie

Tour the eerie remnants of a former boomtown

There's something eerily appropriate about bumping down the dusty desert road that winds the final few miles into Bodie State Historic Park. Round...

November - December

As autumn gives way to winter, slip away to this signature event, presented at the Majestic Yosemite (formerly Ahwahnee) in incomparable Yosemite Valley. Leading winemakers celebrate the fall...

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Courtesy of DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite
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Bishop

Explore an outdoorsy adventure town with an artistic side

Bishop brims with outdoor activities. Situated at the north end of the Owens Valley, with close access to some of the Sierra’s most dramatic high...

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Alex Farnum

Guided Adventures

Learn to climb, join a pack trip, and more

While there are plenty of ways to play on your own in the High Sierra, there’s a whole host of ways to learn a new activity, like how to catch and...

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Lucas Himovitz

Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Look up at (and learn about) amazing giant sequoias

Established in 1931 to preserve a stunning stand of giant sequoias, this park offers one of the easiest places to see these towering trees. Head 4...

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From Gold Rush history to the 8th wonder of the world, visit these favorites

If there was ever a box of chocolates—and all of them delicious—it’s the rich collection of natural treasures, fascinating...

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Amy Meredith/Flickr
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The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park is the largest (by volume) tree in the world.
SPECIAL FEATURE
Gold Rush history, epic high-country landscapes, hidden wine country, and charming country towns

Granite monoliths, waterfalls, alpine meadows—it’s no secret that Yosemite delivery some seriously big wow moments. But what is a secret is the bounty of awesome things you can see and do on your...

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Kodiak Greenwood
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Courtesy of Mammoth Chambers of Commerce

Manzanar National Historic Site

Learn about a sobering time in U.S. history

During World War II, thousands of Japanese-Americans were moved from their homes throughout the West and brought to internment camps like Manzanar...

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Amy Meredith/Flickr

Bass Lake

Visit a mini Tahoe south of Yosemite

Some think of Bass Lake, the pine-trimmed reservoir about a half-hour’s drive south of Yosemite National Park’s south entrance, as a smaller...