Residents of Sacramento never have to shovel snow, but the city’s proximity to Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada means great skiing and riding is less than two hours away. Some of the best ski resorts in the Sierra beckon day-trippers who want to play in the snow all day long and still be home before dark. — Janet Fullwood


1111 Sierra-At-Tahoe Road
Twin Bridges, CA 95735
(530) 659-7453

Sierra-At-Tahoe – the closest ski resort to Sacramento – is cherished by locals, yet largely overlooked by the Tahoe tourist crowd. Sierra-At-Tahoe is renowned for its glade skiing, terrain parks and family-friendly atmosphere.

Heavenly Mountain Resort

4080 Lake Tahoe Boulevard
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
(775) 586-7000

The muscle resort on Tahoe’s South Shore straddles the California-Nevada border and offers 34 miles of groomed trails, along with bowls, parks, pipes, and the signature Gunbarrel run, which drops 1,800 vertical feet to the lodge below. A gondola rising from a base-area village, just a block from Nevada casinos, makes Heavenly Mountain Resort especially popular with the late-night crowd.

Sugar Bowl

629 Sugar Bowl Road
Norden, CA 95724
(530) 426-9000

Founded by Walt Disney and partners in 1938, Sugar Bowl is known for its wide-open bowl skiing, Alpine-style lodge and passionate local following. It’s 45 minutes closer to Sacramento than the bigger resorts along the Interstate-80 corridor, making it a great choice for day-trippers who get a late start out the door.


100 Northstar Drive
Truckee, CA 96161
(530) 562-1010

Northstar’s tree-protected runs make it the best place on the North Shore to ski or ride on windy days, and its base-area village, set off by cozy fire pits and a centerpiece ice rink, offers what might be the most vibrant après-ski scene at Tahoe. Resort lodging ranges from luxurious village condos to older, economically priced units with plenty of sprawl space for families. The five-star Ritz-Carlton Highlands at mid-mountain has its own dedicated lift.

Alpine Meadows

2600 Alpine Meadows Road
Tahoe City, CA 96145
(530) 583-4232

Expert skiers and riders know Alpine’s black-diamond terrain to be some of the most challenging in the West, but fear not: This classic resort has plenty of runs suitable for beginners and intermediates, too. Base-area lodging is limited, and that’s how locals like it. Think Tahoe the way it used to be before the deep-pocketed developers moved in.

Squaw Valley USA

1960 Squaw Valley Road
Olympic Valley, CA 93675
(530) 581-7225

Squaw Valley USA leaped from obscurity to world renown when it hosted the 1960 Olympics, and ever since serious skiers have tagged it as one of the best ski resorts in the Sierra. Hold your breath when riding up to High Camp on Squaw’s iconic tram; the views of the Sierra and Lake Tahoe beyond are dizzying. Ample base-area lodging provides ski-in, ski-out convenience.