14 Epic Places to Go Snowboarding and Skiing Near San Jose - Urban Outdoors
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Despite year-round warm temperatures in the Bay Area, you don’t need to travel far from San Jose to find some of the best ski resorts in the country. Snowboarding and skiing near San Jose is accessible to people of any experience level, from first-timers to expert-levels snowboarders and skiers. We hand-curated this list of the absolute best places to go snowboarding and skiing near San Jose so you can plan your best winter getaway yet!

From the massive mega resorts to the locally-run hidden gems, read on to learn more about the best spots for snowboarding and skiing near San Jose.

The Best Places to Go Skiing Near San Jose, California

Heavenly Mountain Resort

  • Location: South Lake Tahoe, CA
  • Distance from San Jose: 222 miles (~3 hours, 45 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, many options
  • Experience levels: Intermediate and advanced

Heavenly Mountain Resort is probably one of the most thrilling and picturesque ski resorts near San Jose. With stunning views of Lake Tahoe and a magnificent spread of 97 trails over 4,800 skiable acres, Heavenly Mountain should definitely be on your California skiing bucket list.

Beginners should note that Heavenly Mountain has a heavy focus on intermediate, advanced, and expert-level runs. Only 8% of the trails are beginner-friendly. However, if you’ve gotten several trails under your belt as a beginner and you’re ready to level up, Heavenly Mountain is a beautiful and fun place to do so.

Sierra-at-Tahoe

  • Location: Twin Bridges, CA
  • Distance from San Jose208 miles (~3 hours, 20 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site; nearest lodging is in Twin Bridges
  • Experience levels: All levels

Sierra at Tahoe is one of the many ski resorts near San Jose that’s located at Lake Tahoe. The views from the mountain are absolutely stunning, and there are 47 trails of varying difficulty. Local skiers and snowboarders love the well-groomed terrain, and the fantastic support for beginners as well as trails for the more advanced snowboarders and skiers. Many reviewers call it a great place to learn to ski!

At Sierra at Tahoe, you can find a sizeable lodge with gear rentals, lessons, and food available, as well as tubing and snowshoeing for when you’re not on the downhill trails. For the adrenaline junkies, there are 6 terrain parks of different sizes with all kinds of obstacles to play on.

Homewood Mountain Resort

  • Location: Homewood, CA
  • Distance from San Jose237 miles (~3 hours, 50 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? No, but many options in nearby Homewood
  • Experience levels: All levels, with focus on intermediate and advanced trails

Plan a trip to Homewood Mountain Resort for incredible powder stashes and gorgeous views of Lake Tahoe. With 1260 acres and 67 runs, there’s no shortage of fun to be had on the hill. However, if you’re looking for more, check out the extra 750 acres of guided snowcat-accessible terrain. The resort is best-suited for intermediate and advanced skiers, but beginners can enjoy the hill’s longest run, Rainbow Ridge. With “peak to shore” skiing, Homewood is a great spot for views as killer as their trails. 

Royal Gorge Cross Country Resort

  • Location: Soda Springs, CA
  • Distance from San Jose208 miles (~3 hours, 15 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? You can stay nearby in Soda Springs
  • Experience levels: All levels

If you’re looking for a change of pace from the thrill of the ski slopes, Royal Gorge Cross Country Resort may just be what you’re looking for. Royal Gorge is one of the more unique ski resorts near San Jose, which offers a different experience – cross-country skiing through forested areas. This is technically part of the greater Sugar Bowl Resort area, but consists solely of cross-country trails. It’s one of the few places you can go cross country skiing near San Jose.

On a visit here, there are a whopping 92 cross country trails you can ski through for a completely different winter sports experience than many of the other resorts on this list. An advantage of Nordic skiing is that it typically tends to be cheaper than traditional downhill skiing due to the lack of lifts and expensive machinery. For beginners to Nordic skiing, there are lessons and rentals available at the resort.

Mammoth Mountain

  • Location: Mammoth Lakes, CA
  • Distance from San Jose280 miles (~6 hours, 20 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, at The Village Lodge
  • Experience levels: All levels

If you’re looking for the full “ski trip” experience, look no further than Mammoth Mountain. This ski resort and ski town combination make for a fabulous family-friendly snowboard and ski combination that’s about a 6-hour drive from the Bay Area. There are a whopping 154 runs in the resort, ranging from bunny hills and learning areas to double black diamond expert terrain.

Here at Mammoth Mountain, there’s an atmosphere that’s totally welcoming and supportive of beginners, which means you’re in luck as a first-timer, with plenty of daily ski lessons and gear rentals available. The vast majority of trails here are beginner to intermediate level, but there are a handful marked as advanced and expert for more experienced skiers.

Boreal Mountain Resort

  • Location: Soda Springs, CA
  • Distance from San Jose209 miles (~3 hours, 15 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? No, but many options in nearby Soda Springs
  • Experience levels: All levels; plenty of intermediate and advanced trails

Boreal Mountain Resort is a ski resort located roughly 3 hours from San Jose. While it’s a smaller resort with just 34 trails, it’s a family-friendly destination that’s great for intermediate and expert snowboarders and skiers, as well as beginners. It does have many resources for learning to ski, as well as thrilling terrain parks for a bit more of an adventure.

Boreal Mountain Resort has a Take 3, Ride Free program that’s a great value for Bay Area beginners who want a supportive learning experience, plus a season pass to sharpen their skills. There’s also a kids ski free program with an adult season pass, which is a wonderful value for families that live nearby and want to ski or snowboard for the entire season.

Northstar California Resort

  • Location: Truckee, CA
  • Distance from San Jose227 miles (~3 hours, 40 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, at Northstar Resort
  • Experience levels: All levels

With its 100 trails, Northstar California is a large, family-friendly resort on the shores of Lake Tahoe that’s a fabulous winter getaway spot. A whopping 60% of the resort’s trails are rated intermediate, meaning it’s a fantastic place for beginner skiers to start tackling tougher terrain or for more experienced skiers to get more runs under their belt. Northstar is also part of the Epic Pass network, so if you’re a passholder, you’re in luck!

For non-skiers, there’s also tubing, ice skating, and a full set of resort amenities, including a spa and several dining options. We personally enjoyed the dining options around the ski resort – the poutine at the french fry food truck is to die for.

Donner Ski Ranch

  • Location: Norden, CA
  • Distance from San Jose210 miles (~3 hours, 20 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? No, but many options in nearby Norden
  • Experience levels: All levels

Donner Ski Ranch may not be as flashy as other ski resorts near San Jose, but what it lacks in glamour it makes up for with good vibes and great value. Explore 500 acres of skiable terrain and 1000 feet of vertical. The biggest draw is the ticket price, which can be up to 75% cheaper than other nearby resorts. Great value, great pow, and short lift lines – what more could you ask for?

Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows

  • Location: Olympic Valley, CA
  • Distance from San Jose: 228 miles (~3 hours, 40 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, at The Village at Squaw Valley
  • Experience levels: All levels

Alpine Meadows and its sister park Squaw Valley make up a massive ski complex near Lake Tahoe – one of the largest ski resorts near San Jose. This park is made up of 170 trails across 6,000+ acres of skiable terrain.

There are 3 different peaks between the two resorts. “Snow Ventures” is a small hill primarily for junior skiers and snowboarders. “Big Blue” is comprised of gentle slopes and is made up of 60% green trails. KT-22 is for the experts; it includes 2,000 feet of cliffs and near vertical drops. 

Lift tickets are on the more expensive side compared to others on this list, but you get access to a large and well-run park. This resort is also partnered with the Ikon Pass

Soda Springs Mountain Resort

  • Location: Soda Springs, CA
  • Distance from San Jose: 207 miles (~3 hours, 15 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? No, but many in nearby Soda Springs
  • Experience levels: All levels

Lake Tahoe’s “best kept secret”, Soda Springs is a great options for skiing near San Jose. The mountain receives an average snowfall of 400 inches, and has an average of 240 days of sunshine, meaning you’ll be cruising through some fresh powder while enjoying beautiful blue skies. There are 15 trails evenly split across all levels, so there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Sugar Bowl Resort

  • Location: Norden, CA
  • Distance from San Jose: 210 miles (~3 hours, 15 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, at the Sugar Bowl Resort
  • Experience levels: All levels, with focus on intermediate and advanced trails

Sugar Bowl Resort is a well-maintained 1650-acre ski resort located northwest of Lake Tahoe. This ski resort is beloved by those familiar with the scene for skiing near San Jose because it boasts smaller crowds and more affordable prices than some of the massive Tahoe resorts. With 4 peaks and 100 trails, you could ski here for several days without ever getting bored or having to repeat trails.

Although only 17% of trails are marked as beginner-friendly, there are lots of resources for learning to ski here. Reviewers are often pleased with the friendly, supportive ambiance, small crowds, and beautiful scenery at Sugar Bowl Resort, plus a family-friendly resort that’s great for a winter getaway.

Dodge Ridge Ski Resort

  • Location: Pinecrest, CA
  • Distance from San Jose155 miles (~3 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site; nearest hotel is the Pinecrest Chalet
  • Experience levels: All levels

As one of the closer ski resorts near San Jose, Dodge Ridge is a gem of a spot without the crowds (or high prices) of Tahoe’s resorts. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned expert, if you want to go snowboarding or skiing near San Jose, Dodge Ridge is a local favorite. With a wide variety of trails, ranging from bunny hills to expert-level trails, it’s a very well-rounded resort with a lot to offer families, groups, and even solo skiers/boarders.

While there’s no lodging on-site, there is a large lounge area and lodge with dining options, gear rentals, a snow sports school, and relaxation areas. Beginners and first-timers have tons of resources here when it comes to learning how to snowboard or ski, while more experienced folks can head to the top of the mountain for a variety of different trails and terrain.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort

  • Location: Kirkwood, CA
  • Distance from San Jose176 miles (~3 hours, 30 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, at Kirkwood Mountain Resort
  • Experience levels: Mostly intermediate to advanced, with trails for all levels

As a Northern California gem, Kirkwood Mountain Resort is a gorgeous, evergreen-laden ski area that has something for every level of skier or snowboarder. Located south of Lake Tahoe, it’s one of many ski resorts in the area that offers a mix of thrilling, challenging terrain and family-friendly ski opportunities. While it’s a somewhat popular spot for California skiers and snowboarders, it’s well worth the trek from the Bay Area if you’re seeking challenging terrain in a beautiful spot.

Kirkwood’s trails largely consist of intermediate and advanced runs, but there are 86 total runs that span from beginner hills to expert-level terrain parks. As part of the Epic Pass program, passholders can get admission to Kirkwood’s ski areas included in their membership.

Bear Valley Resort

  • Location: Bear Valley, CA
  • Distance from San Jose175 miles (~3 hours, 20 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, at the Bear Valley Lodge
  • Experience levels: Intermediate and advanced

As a smaller ski resort, Bear Valley Resort is a hidden gem located in the Sierra Mountains. Local skiers and snowboarders love it because of its accessible size, relatively fewer crowds, and very responsive staff. With 58 trails and 10 lifts, there’s more than enough transportation to get people up the mountain quickly and efficiently. And, to top it off, the on-site lodge is an incredibly picturesque place to spend a long weekend getaway curled up in blankets in between thrilling runs down the slopes.

Skiing Near San Jose: Additional Resources

What to Pack

  • Waterproof outerwear – Possibly the most critical pieces of clothing for your ski trip packing list is durable, waterproof outerwear. Burton and Helly Hansen are famous ski brands for having best-in-class clothing that will keep you warm in the coldest, snowiest conditions. Click here to shop ski jackets and compare prices.
  • Thermal layers – Thermal baselayers are absolutely critical for a smooth skiing experience, as these will keep you warm and dry underneath your outerwear. The best kinds of thermal baselayers are made of Merino wool, which is moisture-wicking and comfortable. Our favorite brand of thermal layers is SmartWool – their tops and leggings are soft, lightweight, but warm and durable for all kinds of outdoor activities, including skiing. Click here to shop thermal tops and leggings and compare prices.
  • Ski goggles – No ski trip packing list would be complete without a pair of fog-resistant ski goggles, especially if you’re going somewhere that makes artificial snow. Ski slopes often have snow blowing into the air several times a day and it can be hard to keep freezing snowflakes out of your eyes, even during clear days. We use and recommend these ski goggles. However, you can shop ski goggles and compare reviews/prices here.

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive list of things to pack, head to our Ultimate Ski Trip Packing List to view our full packing list and gear recommendations for the slopes!

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