Add Some Wonder to Your Winter: 5 Closest Ski Resorts to San Francisco

January 24, 2020

One of the best things about living in California is that we have the ability to go from the beach to the mountains in a matter of hours. In the wintertime, you could wake up with the sun in San Francisco and be skiing down the slopes in Stanislaus National Forest before lunchtime. Here, a relatively short drive can reveal a big change in scenery—especially if you’re snowbound. Below, take a look at the closest ski resorts to visit from San Francisco. 

1. Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows

Approximate drive time: ~4 hours 

Distance from San Francisco: 197 miles

A California Historical Landmark and the home of the 1960 Winter Olympics, Squaw Valley is one of the biggest and most notable ski resorts in the United States. Located just west of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the resort has 6,000 skiable acres across two mountains—including over 65% beginner and intermediate terrain. 

Activities also include snow tubing, aerial tram rides over the mountains and Lake Tahoe, year-round events and entertainment and over 50 bars, restaurants and boutiques.

2. Sugar Bowl Resort

Approximate drive time: ~3 hours 

Distance from San Francisco: 177 miles
Sugar Bowl is great for planning a trip with skiers of all levels—with 17% beginner runs, 45% intermediate runs and 38% advanced, you can invite your friend who’s never skied before and your adrenaline-junkie friend. The resort comprises 1,650 skiable acres, four peaks and 100 trails. Plus, book a stay at the historic Sugar Bowl Hotel at the base of the resort to take advantage of the spa, sauna and steam rooms after a day on the slopes.

3. Boreal Ski Resort

Approximate drive time: ~3 hours 

Distance from San Francisco: 177 miles
Minutes away from Sugar Bowl is another Bay Area favorite: Boreal Ski Resort. One of the smaller ski resorts in the area, Boreal is also one of the best for kids or beginners—with more affordable prices and lessons for all levels. Make the most of your trip with snow tubing at Playland, après-ski drinks at the Boreal Bar and the best night skiing in Tahoe.

4. Dodge Ridge Ski Resort

Approximate drive time: ~3.5 hours 

Distance from San Francisco: 163 miles
The closest ski resort to the Bay Area (mileage-wise), Dodge Ridge Ski Resort boasts about 800 acres of ski areas near Pinecrest, California. Dodge Ridge caters to both beginners and experts—offering rentals and lessons for kids and adults and a handful of black diamond and double black diamond runs.

5. Bear Valley Resort

Approximate drive time: ~3.5 hours 

Distance from San Francisco: 181 miles
Located between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite in the Central Sierra Nevada Mountains, Bear Valley Resort sits on 1,280 skiable acres. For competitive skiers, Bear Valley Mountain has partnered with Bear Valley SnowSports Foundation to host NASTAR—daily races and competitions for youth and adults. Bonus: Bear Valley Lodge is dog-friendly!

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