5 California Ski Resorts for Beginning Skiers

May 18, 2024 | California, Lake Tahoe, Snow Suit, United States

As a beginner skier or someone looking for a family-friendly ski resort in California, it can be overwhelming to choose the right place to hit the slopes. But fear not, I’ve got you covered with a list of five ski resorts in California that are perfect for beginners and families.

1. Bear Mountain – San Bernardino Mountains

Bear Mountain is known for its wide, groomed runs that are perfect for beginners. The resort also offers lessons for all ages and has a dedicated family-friendly area.

The resort offers:

  • Dedicated Beginner Areas: Bear Mountain has a variety of gentle slopes specifically designed for beginners, ensuring a safe and enjoyable learning experience.
  • Family-Friendly Programs: Their ski and snowboard school offers excellent instruction for all ages, making it easy for everyone to get started.
  • Snow Play Areas: When the kids need a break from skiing, they can enjoy snow tubing and other family-friendly activities.

Why You’ll Love It: The relaxed atmosphere and friendly instructors make Bear Mountain an ideal spot for young families looking to start their skiing adventures.

2. Northstar California – Lake Tahoe

Located near Lake Tahoe, Northstar California is renowned for its family-friendly environment:

  • Gentle Runs: Northstar features numerous beginner trails that are wide and well-groomed, perfect for gaining confidence on the slopes.
  • Children’s Programs: Their award-winning children’s ski school offers top-notch instruction, ensuring your little ones are in good hands.
  • Village Activities: The vibrant village at the base of the slopes offers ice skating, dining, and shopping, providing entertainment for the whole family.

Why You’ll Love It: The combination of excellent beginner terrain and a lively village makes Northstar a great choice for families.

3. Sierra-at-Tahoe – Near South Lake Tahoe

Located in the Eldorado National Forest, Sierra-at-Tahoe is another top-notch option for beginners:

  • Beginner Terrain: Sierra-at-Tahoe offers dedicated learning areas and gentle slopes perfect for novice skiers. Their “Easy Street” area is designed specifically for beginners.
  • Ski and Snowboard School: With professional and friendly instructors, Sierra-at-Tahoe’s ski school provides excellent lessons for beginners of all ages.
  • Family-Friendly Vibe: The resort’s welcoming atmosphere and variety of activities, including tubing and snow play areas, make it a great spot for families.

Why You’ll Love It: The laid-back, friendly environment combined with top-tier beginner facilities makes Sierra-at-Tahoe an ideal destination for families new to skiing. Hands down, this is my favorite location for beginning skiers and families!

4. China Peak – Lakeshore

Situated in the Sierra National Forest, China Peak is a hidden gem for beginner skiers:

  • Beginner Terrain: China Peak features dedicated beginner areas and gentle slopes that are perfect for newcomers to the sport. Their main green (beginner run), is a little steeper than most greens, so you may need to hit the bunny hill a few more times to feel confident.
  • Ski School: The resort’s ski and snowboard school provides comprehensive lessons tailored to beginners of all ages, ensuring everyone feels comfortable on the slopes.
  • Family-Friendly Environment: With a laid-back atmosphere and a variety of activities, China Peak is an excellent choice for a relaxed family skiing experience.

Why You’ll Love It: The picturesque setting and welcoming vibe make China Peak a great destination for families seeking a serene skiing adventure. From the top of the mountain, you’ll be able to see Huntington Lake in the distance.


Many ski resorts offer discounts for groups. We were able to attend a field trip at China Peak with a group of students (ages 5-18). The students received a lesson, rentals, and a lift ticket at a fraction of the cost. We highly recommend grabbing your friends and planning a day at the slopes to save big!

5. Badger Pass – Yosemite National Park

As California’s original ski resort, Badger Pass offers a unique and charming experience for beginners:

  • Gentle Slopes: Badger Pass features a variety of easy runs that are perfect for learning and improving your skiing skills.
  • Ski and Snowboard School: The resort’s ski school is well-regarded for its friendly and patient instructors who excel at teaching young children and beginners.
  • Family-Friendly Activities: Beyond skiing, families can enjoy snowshoeing and tubing, or simply take in the breathtaking winter scenery of Yosemite.

Why You’ll Love It: The historic charm and stunning natural beauty of Yosemite make Badger Pass a memorable and enchanting destination for a family ski trip. Badger Pass is also known for their highly skilled ski instructors and affordable lesson packages, making it a great place to learn!

Final Tips for a Family Ski Trip

  1. Plan Ahead: Book your accommodations and ski lessons in advance to ensure availability.
  2. Dress Warmly: Layering is key to staying warm and comfortable on the slopes.
  3. Remember the Sunscreen: When it’s cold outside, it’s easy to forget that the sun is shining. The reflection of the snow makes it easy to burn. That’s why we always pack our sunscreen!

Whether you’re hitting the slopes for the first time or helping your little ones find their skiing legs, these California ski resorts offer the perfect blend of beginner-friendly terrain and family-oriented amenities. So pack your bags, bundle up, and get ready for an unforgettable winter adventure!

Happy skiing, and enjoy the snow!


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