SNOW IN CALIFORNIA | Your Guide to Best Winter Getaways in California

SNOW IN CALIFORNIA | Your Guide to Best Winter Getaways in California

California is a state in the United States that is located in the Pacific Region. Having a population of about  40 million and 163,696 square miles in area, California is regarded as the most populous in the country and concerning area, it is the 3rd largest.

California is long and narrow, stretching from the north in Oregon and then to the south in Arizona. The state’s length simply means that it extends many climatic regions. The climate of California is greatly influenced by the coast, latitude, and elevation of the Pacific Ocean. 

The Central Valley, the coastal regions, as well as the Sierra Nevada foothills usually have a Mediterranean climate having hot, wet, and cold winters, while the state’s southern half, generally, is hot and has scorching summers and warm winters. The dry and hot summers in California make the state susceptible to wildfires that burn vast forest acres.

Where is there Snow in California?

As many have asked: Does California get snow? California’s mountainous regions, most especially the Sierra Nevada, during the winter receive snow in significant amounts. The rainy season of the state usually falls within November and April, and this rain freezes in higher elevation areas as a result of lower temperatures which leads to its becoming snow due. 

The Sierra Nevada peaks can get to an elevation of over 14,000 feet, while snow can get accumulated to reach 38 feet. In Western Sierra Nevada, snow is not very common except in the Cascades and the Coast Range. During the winter period, the eastern Sierra Nevada gets constant and light snow

The greatest snowfall in California is received by the Mount Whitney peak, which is referred to as Sierra Nevada’s highest summit, which also includes the contiguous US generally. Also, the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe, which has a maximum elevation of 10,000 feet, every year, gets about 300 to 500 inches of snow. Every year, the Ski Area of the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area gets around 300 inches of snow which attracts skiers from different parts of the United States during seasons of snow.

Let’s take a look at where snow can be found in both southern and northern California

Where is there Snow in Southern California?

The southern part of California is hot and dry compared to the state’s northern part, but this doesn’t mean it cannot receive snow. For instance, every year, the Big Bear Lake gets snow of about 67 inches which attracts enthusiasts of snow sport.

Although little snow is received by the Frazier Park community, significant amounts are deposited close to the Mount Pinos, most especially at higher elevations. Every year, the San Jacinto Mountains as well as the Idyllwild town gets about 60 inches of snow; however, local authorities have prohibited snowboarding and skiing in this area.

California’s southernmost area has to do with the Mojave Desert which extends to Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. This terrain is hot, dry, and vast, which includes the Death Valley. Though this area is the driest part of North America, the storm of the Pacific Northwest brings snow in small amounts as well as rain to some parts of the desert when there’s a drop of about 25 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and less than zero degrees Fahrenheit at night.

Places, where there’s snow in the southern part of California, include Mount Whitney, Sequoia National Park, Los Padres National Forest, Idyllwild, Mount Baldy, Big Bear, Wrightwood, and Lake Arrowhead. Let’s quickly discuss some of them briefly.

Mount Whitney

During the summer months, it is very easy to climb. However, it could be a bit challenging when California experiences snow. Less experienced climbers can go through the much easier route which is the Mount Whitney trail. Climbing this mount gives a very rewarding experience, It has some great views which is completely worth it. 

Sequoia National Park

This park houses something more than snow. Also present here is the world’s largest tree. This is one great place where families can visit to have some fun. All through the park, there are snowshoe and ski trails, coupled with the snow play areas where visitors can get engaged in a snow battle.

Los Padres National Forest

This forest contains lots of wonderful hikes, with the most popular known as the Rattlesnake Trail. If you feel lazy, you can easily hike to the Montecito peak. It has amazing views. And if you love camping, sleeping below the stars can be referred to California’s best magical winter getaways.


Hidden in the mountains of San Jacinto, Idyllwild’s mountain community is just as lovely as suggested in its name. This is one of California’s best snow places and will be great for those in search of a winter vacation. Michael J. Fox and Dolly Parton are even proud homeowners here. Visitors can decide to rent a cabin or camp out. Mountain biking and rock climbing are allowed, but skiing is not.

Mount Baldy

Another great snow place in Southern California is the Mount Baldy, which is officially referred to as Mount San Antonio. The Ski Lifts of Mount Baldy is said to be the steepest among ski resorts in the southern part of California, so you’ll have a great time while shredding down the slopes. This ski resort is very family-friendly and is great for Christmastime breaks.


Hidden in a valley in the mountains of San Antonio, Wrightwood is very close to Los Angeles (just 77 miles away), and while driving in a car, it takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. This skiing town is a very popular one that will bring you into the holiday spirit.

Big Bear

Big bear is referred to as one of California’s best snow places. It is known to be a site for training for some boxing champions and several movies have been shot in this location. Its popularity can be attributed to the Bear Mountain close by. Everyone can be sure of having fun as skiers of all abilities and ages will get slopes that suit them.

Snow in California

Where does it Snow in Northern California?

According to the news on December 1st, 2019, the weather forecasts expect the continuation of storms over the Northern part of California as they have warned about the hazardous winter. A weather winter storm warning has been sent by the National Weather Service, indicating that heavy snow will most likely be deposited in the Sierra Nevada and rainstorms could plummet the Valley.

The mountains of North California is usually piled up with snow during the winter period. While most of the Tahoe Ski resorts such as Squaw Valley, Northstar, and Heavenly features ice skating, tubing parks, as well as other non-skiing activities for the winter.

Does it snow in Northern California? Generally, places in Northern California having snow include Mount Shasta, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Squaw Valley and Truckee, and Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Mammoth Lakes.


Snow Play areas in Northern California

When we talk of snow play areas, the Northern part of California has more alternatives compared to its southern part. Even there are non-commercial and commercial areas for snow playing and are abundant. 

The majority of the ski resorts in Northern California lack snow tubing or official snow play areas, making it very easy for adults to go along with their kids while snowboarding or skiing. 

  • There’s a snow play area found between the Mammoth Lakes and June Lake. It is beautiful and has great slopes. If the snow is natural, this is the best place you can visit with your kids to ride and sled and play in the snow. It covers a very large area and has several slopes for sledding. Also present is a lot of room where a snowball fight can be started or a snowman can be built.
  • There’s another tubing area, which you can also visit with your kids at the Mount Shasta Ski Park. This is a commercial snow tubing area that is well organized and properly groomed. It doesn’t come cheap anyway, as adults are charged $20 while kids pay $15, and the area lacks an official place where a snowman can be built.
  • There’s another snow tubing area called Mount Shasta Ski Park which is very safe and professionally groomed and maintained. However, it comes at a price, and it is disappointing to hear that visitors cannot play in there, not even the throwing of a snowball is allowed.
  • However, close to the resort entrance, on the left side of the mountain is a snow play area that is large enough; though the play area is not maintained, visitors can get some fun while playing in the snow. This area is only functional each time there’s natural snow.
  • Another Snow play area is at the Snowmans Hill Summit. On reaching the Mount Shasta Ski Park, visitors have to turn from highway 89 and just at the right-hand side is a sledding area that’s great for kids. However, the snow was not enough and the slope looked muddy. This snow area is great for sledding and snow playing.
  • The last snow area in Northern California that will be discussed here is the Bunny Flat Trail that is close to Mount Shasta. Its elevation is much higher, so there’s a greater chance of finding snow. However, there’s a need to check the road conditions, before making your trip down there as the road may be closed anytime there’s a large amount of snow.

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