The low-key China Peak resort, on the western side of the Sierra, is a local favorite for Central Valley skiers and boarders looking for a family- and beginner-friendly experience. Some 70 miles northeast of Fresno in the uncrowded Sierra National Forest, it’s easy to get to and prides itself on having something for everyone. Kids can develop their skills on a Burton Progression Park in Ullmann’s Alley after picking up tips from a lesson, while more advanced boarders and skiers ride the rails, boxes, hips, and spines of the challenging Tollhouse Park. Canyonlands is a great place to play on bank turns, rollers, and jumps. Altogether, the resort offers nearly 1,700 feet of vertical (you can check out a map of the various slopes here) and sweeping views from its highest point at 8,700 feet.
The Inn at China Peak offers reasonably priced, no-frills rooms steps from the lifts, including very affordable budget lodging for those who don’t mind communal bathrooms. There are also numerous lodges, B&Bs, hotels, and cabins in the area. Onsite dining options include Buckhorn Bar & Grill for hot sandwiches and bar food, and Daylodge and Mainstream Station, which offers a more extensive menu of comfort-food favorites such as burgers and pizza. Visit the restaurant at The Inn hearty pasta dishes, steaks, and upscale burgers. For an old-time end to your day, put up your boots and relax at JW’s Original Bar, in the unpretentious base lodge.
Insider tip: China Peak is one of the few mountain resorts in the nation to offer recreational vehicle parking onsite. The spots are in high demand, so be sure to reserve well in advance.