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6 Tips for a Fun, Safe 2021 Ski Vacation

The snow is falling and resorts are open. Here’s how to take a COVID-friendly trip to California’s mountain towns

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Posted 2 months agoby Jené Shaw

Planning a ski trip looks a little different this season due to the pandemic. You can’t just hop in the car for a spontaneous day on the mountain followed by après at a crowded bar. But you can still enjoy some of the best things about a winter getaway: snowy surroundings, wide open spaces, and the thrill of carving down a ski run.

The season is in full swing right now, and there’s still time to plan a snowy escape. With hundreds of acres of terrain, California’s ski resorts are naturally socially distanced, and smart COVID-19 guidelines ensure you can ski or board safely while you’re there.

Before traveling, familiarize yourself with local guidelines and regulations for all of the destinations you visit and check out Visit California’s Responsible Travel Hub, which includes helpful Travel Alerts. Popular winter destinations such as North Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Lakes, and Big Bear offer detailed information not only about COVID-19 restrictions, but also about recreating responsibly and visiting specific resorts. Read below for more resources and ideas to help you navigate a winter trip.

1. Plan Ahead

The biggest changes for the season include buying tickets in advance, wearing a mask in close quarters, and not dining inside. To learn more about what to expect, read up on what you need to know about this winter’s ski season.

2. Get the Inside Scoop

On a recent episode of the California Now Podcast, insiders shared tips for how to enjoy the snow this season. Listen in as Michael Reitzell, president of Ski California, shares tips on visiting ski resorts. If you’d rather trade your downhill skis for skinny sticks, hear what guidebook author Tim Hauserman recommends for cross-country skiing near Lake Tahoe. Carmen Sognonvi of the Top Flight Family luxury travel blog offers even more winter travel ideas for non-skiers looking to play in the powder. 

3. Drive Smart

The weather can change dramatically once you get in the mountains. This article about safe winter driving offers the best resources to check for weather updates along with tips on how to be prepared to drive in the snow.

4. Find Your Perfect Getaway

Not sure where to go? Looking for new activities to try? This Choose Your Ultimate Snow Getaway flowchart will help determine the best trip for you—whether that’s snowmobiling in Mammoth or riding black diamonds at Kirkwood. (Note: Entries have not been updated for COVID-19 restrictions.)

5. Consider Alternate Adventures

Resorts have ample space, but the backcountry is where you’ll find true isolation. Consider one of these safe backcountry snow adventures to truly get away from it all. Options include ziplining through the Big Bear forest, snow-kiting in Lake Tahoe, or snowshoeing in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.

6. Seek Out Inspiration

New ideas can never hurt, and there’s plenty of winter vacation inspiration on visitcalifornia.com. Take your family on a snow adventure, schuss down one of these ski runs with amazing views, go on an adventurous Sierra Nevada road trip, or just get stoked about California ski culture.

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