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Check Out What’s New at California Ski Resorts This Winter

Check Out What’s New at California Ski Resorts This Winter

Discover an upgraded mountain experience with chairlift improvements, restaurant openings, and expanded terrain

Posted 7 months agoby Ann Marie Brown

The lifts aren’t all open yet, but it’s only a matter of weeks. California’s ski season opens before Thanksgiving at seven resorts—Northstar California, Heavenly Mountain, Palisades Tahoe, Boreal, Mammoth, Snow Summit, and Mountain High—with others opening in December. Mammoth Mountain opened on Nov. 5 and Heavenly changed its opening to Nov. 12 (both a week earlier than expected!) thanks to fresh snow. 

This winter, you’re likely to find upgrades, renovations, and enhancements at your favorite resort, including higher capacity chairlifts, more efficient snowmaking equipment, a speedy new gondola, and even expanded terrain.

Golden State resorts spent the warmer months investing in improvements, says Mike Reitzell, president of Ski California, a nonprofit industry association.

“The goal has been to make a high quality, efficient, and memorable experience,” Reitzell says. “When our resorts are making upgrades, they're thinking, ‘How do we make this place more enjoyable for skiers and riders?’ That’s what all the projects and upgrades have been about.”

Ski Resort Upgrades

In North Lake Tahoe, Palisades Tahoe will operate its new base-to-base gondola, which opens up uninterrupted access to 6,000 acres of skiable terrain. The 2.4-mile-long gondola links the slopes between Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows in a 16-minute ride.

Nearby Northstar California has also made skier-friendly improvements. “Northstar’s Comstock chair was in an area where a lot of skiers convene, and it got really crowded,” Reitzell says. “They upgraded it to a six-pack so it will have higher capacity.”

Seventy miles north of Redding, Mt. Shasta Ski Park completed construction on its new Gray Butte chairlift. The fixed quad lift gives skiers access to higher-elevation terrain and five new runs, including a three-mile-long cruise from top to bottom.

“People have been clamoring for that additional terrain at Shasta for a long time. The new lift and new terrain are going to make skiing and riding a much better experience up there.”

Here’s a look at recent upgrades at 10 California ski resorts, plus their planned opening dates:

Big Bear Mountain Resort, Big Bear Lake: Big Bear’s two jointly managed mountains—Snow Summit and Bear Mountain—completed a $2 million upgrade to Laybacks Bar at the Bear Mountain base area and a $1.2 million upgrade to the ski rental shop, and added 10 acres of remote parking.
Opening: Snow Summit Nov. 18, Bear Mountain Nov. 25

Dodge Ridge, Pinecrest: A new triple chair replaces two 1960s-era chairlifts. The Triple Nugget chair will open up lower mountain terrain that previously required two chairlifts to access.
Opening: mid-December

Heavenly Mountain Resort, South Lake Tahoe: The North Bowl lift was upgraded from a fixed-grip triple chair to a high-speed detachable quad, increasing uphill capacity by 40 percent and reducing wait times at the Stagecoach and Olympic lifts.
Opening. Nov. 12

Homewood Mountain Resort, Homewood: Lake Tahoe’s west shore resort completed tree-thinning operations that will give skiers and riders access to more than a mile of new tree skiing on five different runs.
Opening: mid-December

Mammoth Mountain, Mammoth Lakes: The resort has invested $5 million in new, energy-conserving snowmaking equipment. For non-skiers, Woolly’s Tube Park will offer expanded tubing lanes, better snowmaking capabilities, a new elevated conveyor lift, expanded parking, and a larger snow play and sledding area. In January, Top Chef alums Michael and Bryan Voltaggio will open Vulcania, an American-Italian eatery, in The Village at Mammoth.
Opening: Nov. 5

Mt. Shasta Ski Park, McCloud: The recently completed Gray Butte quad lift provides access to nearly 100 acres of intermediate, advanced, and expert terrain. Five new runs access the newly opened slopes, including the park’s first-ever double-black-diamond run. The ski park has also invested in high-performance rental equipment.
Opening: mid-December

Mountain High, Wrightwood: Mountain High has invested more than $1 million in improved snowmaking capabilities. Night skiing and snowboarding will be offered Wednesday–Sunday during peak season.
Opening: Nov. 19

Northstar California, Truckee: One of Northstar’s most popular lifts, Comstock Express, has been upgraded from a quad chair to a high-speed six-pack to reduce wait times, improve ski flow, and increase uphill capacity by nearly 50 percent.
Opening: Nov. 18

Palisades Tahoe, North Lake Tahoe: The newly completed base-to-base gondola is ready to transport 1,400 riders per hour. The eight-seat cable car will travel from Olympic Village to Alpine Meadows in 16 minutes, allowing uninterrupted access to the resort’s 6,000 acres of terrain. Riders may disembark midway at KT-22.
Opening: Nov. 22

Sierra-at-Tahoe, 12 miles west of South Lake Tahoe: After a closure last winter due to damage from the 2021 Caldor Fire, Sierra-at-Tahoe will reopen its entire 46-trail network this year. More than 14,000 fire-damaged trees have been cut, and new haul ropes, chairs, and communication lines have been installed on the Grandview, West Bowl, Puma Express, and Nob Hill lifts.
Opening: mid-December

How to Plan Ahead for Ski Season

No matter what mountain you visit, planning ahead will elevate your winter fun, Reitzell says. That means tuning your skis, preparing your car for winter driving, and researching season pass prices.

“It used to be that only people who skied a lot bought season passes. That’s not true anymore. Last winter, 60 percent of resort visits were from season pass holders, which is the highest ever. That’s been true for each of the past several years—each year becomes the highest ever.”

With daily lift tickets costing $100 to $200, a season pass typically pays for itself in five or six days. And if you have a season pass, you’ll probably ski more.

“Daily lift tickets are expensive for a reason. We want people to commit to coming a few times,” Reitzell says. “If you’re learning or trying to improve your skills, going once or twice a season doesn't do much. If you go more often, that's how you become a better skier or rider.”

And whether you’re a returning skier or new to the slopes, check out this new Mountain Safety Guide created by Ski California before your first trip. The guide is a comprehensive tool to educate downhill skiers and riders of all ability and experience levels about on-mountain safety.

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