It may be the first day of spring today, but there’s still plenty of that white, fluffy stuff around to make skiers and snowboarders giddy with excitement.
Snow from late winter storms has piled up in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, making for some excellent spring shredding.
After last week’s storms, many Sierra ski resorts have accumulated hundreds of inches of snow. Last week, Tahoe’s Sugar Bowl resort and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows received over 7 feet of snow at high altitude.
And there’s more snow coming to the mountains this week (rain at lower elevations).
Now is your chance to ski in the spring — and perhaps even into the summer. (See end.)
After a slow start to winter, this month’s unusually heavy snowfall in the Sierra mountains has spawned the label “March Miracle.” Tahoe Basin has received about half of its normal snowpack, up from 3 percent in January.
The National Weather Service expects another storm system to dump up to 4 feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada, possibly starting today through the weekend.
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, take off a mid-week day to hit the slopes. If you’re visiting from out of town, grab a rare chance to ski or snowboard in spring or summer.
The OntheSnow website lists the amount of snow at dozens of ski resorts in California. Many ski resorts also put their webcams online so you can see the weather, the snow pack and trail conditions in real time.
You can buy discounted lift tickets online to several Sierra ski resorts at Liftopia and REI. And many ski resorts offer specials to attract customers, especially on weekdays. For example, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is offering two free lift tickets for each midweek night you stay in its lodging.
If you don’t want the hassle of a long drive or dealing with tire chains and closed roads, consider taking a ski bus. The price of transportation on the Bay Area Ski Bus or the Sports Basement ski bus includes breakfast as well as snacks and après-ski drinks on the way home. Both buses leave early in the morning to account for the four-hour drive.
Sports Basement’s ski bus has schedule trips to Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows through March 31 for pick up at its San Francisco Bryant Street and Sunnyvale athletic stores. It costs $75. Discounted lift tickets and rental gear packages are available.
The Bay Area Ski Bus, operated by Recreation Connection Inc., will pick you up at one of six Bay area locations and take you to one of six Tahoe ski resorts through April 8. A ride costs $69 or $159 with lift tickets. Equipment rentals and lessons are available.
Skiing in June
So far, five Sierra ski resorts in California have extended this year’s season because of the mountains of snow, according to Liftopia. Here they are:
- Mammoth Mountain in the southern Sierras will stay open at least through July 4.
- Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows plans to remain open until June and reopen on July 4 for the first time since 2011.
- Heavenly Resort, Northstar California and Sierra-at-Tahoe will stay open through April 23. Heavenly also will open for the weekend of April 28-30. Sierra-At-Tahoe will throw a customer appreciation day April 24, with the proceeds from $35 lift tickets going toward local youth recreation and education.
Credit for the featured photo at top: Skiiers at Heavenly Resort get a view of Lake Tahoe about half way down from the 10,000-foot summit. (Hilton via Wikimedia Commons)