As finals come to an end, winter break nears and the weather becomes colder, days fit for skiing and snowboarding become available.

Slopes in Northern and Southern California, Nevada and Colorado offer slopes and all-terrain parks for various ability levels, as well as other accommodations, anywhere between five and 16 hours away.

Alpine Meadows

In Northern California, Alpine Meadows in Tahoe City is just under a seven-hour drive from the Cal Poly campus. The slopes have views of Lake Tahoe and the high Sierra and offer challenging terrain for all ability levels.

Alpine Meadows was the first resort in the West to install a six-passenger high-speed chair. It has approximately 495 inches of snowfall annually and 2,400 skiable acres. It has 13 chair lifts, 35 percent of the runs are advanced, 40 percent are intermediate and 25 percent are for beginners.

There is also an all-terrain park and half-pipe for snowboarders.The resort offers lodging within one mile of the slopes and has a day lodge, full-service restaurant, bar and lounge, espresso bar and ski shop.

Mammoth Mountain

California also offers Mammoth Mountain, another quality mountain about seven hours from Cal Poly in the city of Mammoth Lakes.

Mammoth gets approximately 385 inches of snowfall annually and has 3,500 skiable acres, as well as 28 lifts. Fifteen percent of the runs are for experts, 20 percent are advanced, 40 percent are intermediate and 25 percent are for beginners.

All runs are open to snowboarders, and there are three unbound terrain parks that offer features for all ability levels. Mammoth Mountain also boasts a jib park, three half-pipes and one quarter-pipe.

Mammoth Lakes has an airport, car rentals and free local shuttle service. Local shops include more than 45 restaurants and 12 nightclubs, as well as luxury lodging, hotels, motels and condominiums.


Another Northern California location is Heavenly in South Lake Tahoe, also just under a seven-hour drive from Cal Poly. Heavenly has an expansive network of lifts, terrain, trails, and snowmaking.

Heavenly has the region’s largest mountain resort, longest vertical drop and highest elevation. In the past several years, millions of dollars have been invested in improvements to the mountain.

It has approximately 360 inches of snowfall annually and 4,800 skiable acres, as well as 30 lifts. Five percent of the runs are for experts, 30 percent are advanced, 45 percent are intermediate, and 20 percent are for beginners. For snowboarders, there is a boarder cross trail, four terrain parks for varying abilities, a half-pipe and several terrain features built around the mountain.

Services include ski shops and boutiques, an on-site ski rental and repair facility and 11 lodges within walking distance. Additionally, there is a shuttle bus available to most other hotels and motels.

Bear Mountain

In Southern California, the Bear Mountain Resort in Big Bear Lake is approximately a five-hour drive from Cal Poly.

Bear Mountain has an average of 75 inches of snow annually and 750 skiable acres. Twenty-five percent of the runs are advanced, 50 percent are intermediate and 25 percent are beginner runs.

The resort has 12 lifts and an all-mountain terrain park that varies in ability levels for snowboarders and free skiers. The terrain park has banks, jumps, spines, quarter-pipes, kickers, and a 300-foot half-pipe.

There are also restaurants, shopping and on-site luxury hotels, motels, condominiums and suites.

Diamond Peak

It’s a seven-hour drive to Nevada’s Diamond Peak, located in Incline Village, where it was established in 1985.

Looking eastward, the view from the top of the mountain is desert and the Washoe Valley. To the north are mountains and to the south and west are views of Lake Tahoe.

There is an average of 325 inches of annual snowfall and 655 acres of skiable terrain as well as six lifts. Thirty-six percent of the runs are advanced, 46 percent are intermediate and 18 percent are for beginners.

Diamond Peak has more advanced runs than most Tahoe-area ski resorts and is named after the industry’s “black diamond” symbol, which represents advanced terrain.

Recently, there have been improvements made to the mountain, such as new quad chairs and an upgraded snow-making system.

Diamond Peak’s park has rails and boxes, as well as a variety of kickers and tabletops for snowboarders.

Housing is available nearby in Lake Tahoe and Reno in the form of hotels, inns, condominiums and estates.

Aspen Snowmass

Aspen Snowmass is about 16 hours from Cal Poly in Aspen, Colo. Aspen Snowmass is composed

of four mountains: Snowmass,

Buttermilk – (which has been the home of the ESPN Winter X Games for the past nine consecutive years) – Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands.

The average annual snowfall is between 200 and 300 inches depending on the mountain, and the four mountains in Aspen Snowmass have a combined

acreage of 5,285.

A grand total of 46 lifts lead to 336 marked trails. Each of the mountains has distinct differences for skiing or snowboarding, with trails for ability levels from beginner to expert.

There are eight terrain parks and four half-pipes, as well as a world-class super-pipe. For snowboarders, there are also kickers, tabletops and long rails.

The Aspen resort was voted by Skiing Magazine to be the best ski resort in America. Aspen has two airports and is well-known for its restaurant selection and nightlife scene.

One Web site that is helpful to use when planning snow trips is The site is broken down by state and then by specific resorts within each state.

It has information about specific resorts, cost of lift tickets,trail maps, directions, lodging, restaurants, local activities, services, ski and snowboard shops, local events, airlines (if applicable), current weather conditions and slope conditions.

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