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Cath Howard

Sugar Bowl

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

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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Thomas H. Story/ Sunset Publishing

Northern California

Discover the High Sierra

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30
February
Average (°F)
Dec - Feb
39°
High
21°
Low
Mar - May
55°
High
23°
Low
June - Aug
72°
High
41°
Low
Sept - Nov
66°
High
26°
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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