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Sugar Bowl

Shred the slopes or cross-country ski at this sweet and snowy Sierra treasure

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This snow-snagging resort is rightly named. Sugary drifts often pile up here, make it a favorite destination for skiers and riders, especially after a big Sierra storm rolls through. A few miles from Truckee and less than two hours northeast of Sacramento, Sugar Bowl is an easy win for snow-lovers seeking a close-to-home ski getaway.

This resort 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 like a snow globe sprung to life. Sugar Bowl oozes history: In 1939, entrepreneur and animator Walt Disney was an early investor who pitched in needed cash to make Sugar Bowl one of the first in California to have a chairlift (and it was named the Disney Lift). 

And then there’s the snowpack, which averages 500 inches/1,270 centimeters of snow per season, the most snow at Lake Tahoe. Thirteen lifts serve a huge variety of terrain on four peaks, and there’s plenty of pristine backcountry, too. If some members of your tribe want to cross-country ski while the rest go vertical, right next door is Royal Gorge, North America’s largest cross-country resort, with 6,000 acres and more than 140 kilometers of groomed trails. You can access Royal Gorge from Sugar Bowl’s Village Rentals shop—and pick up your snowshoe or cross-country rentals. Eight different trail systems give you plenty of room for classic cross-country striding, skate skiing, or even snowshoeing with your dog.

When the lifts close, many skiers head into Truckee for the lively après scene at FiftyFifty Brewing Co or Alibi Ale Works, but you could also just stay put. Some of Sugar Bowl’s drinking and dining options have been on the mountain for more than 70 years, including The Dining Room at Village Lodge (try the seared salmon or elk tenderloin) and The Belt Room Bar (nab a cocktail and head for the deck on warm afternoons). Either spot is a good place to refuel and relax before retreating to your slopeside room at the Bavarian-style Hotel at Sugar Bowl. Hotel guests have access to Sporthaus, a luxurious modern spa and fitness center with a lap pool, hot tub, sauna, steam rooms, and yoga studio. Yes, this might just be your Sierra sweet spot.

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