You may have heard that California has a nice climate. Some might say enviable. And while it’s true that cities such as San Diego average a balmy 70 degrees over the course of the year, it’s not all sunshine and sandy beach. The flip side? Perfect powder, of the sort that blankets inland mountains in white come winter. But then the sun comes out again, not enough to melt the snow but just lend it a sparkle that merely drives home the point: California just might have the weather patterns of your dreams.
Which is why, despite the state’s popularity with tourists during spring and summer months, we recommend putting serious consideration into a trip mid-winter. Or early winter or late winter. Whatever. Just make sure there’s snow in them thar’ hills, because that’s key to much of this operation.
For starters, plan to put in some major time on the slopes. Lake Tahoe is an obvious first pick because it boasts 7 major ski resorts within one very manageable area. In other words, you could keep well occupied for a week of Sundays without so much as a run repeat. Another popular ski spot? Mammoth Lakes, southeast of Yosemite National Park.
And while you’re pursuing your California travel options in this neck of the mountains, why not detour through Yosemite National Park? Though Tioga Pass Road (which runs west to east across the park) is closed in winter, select roads and Yosemite Valley stay open for business year-round, and a pretty business it is too, particularly when dusted with fresh powder.
One of our favorites is Lassen Volcanic National Park. Leave the lift lines and other trappings of civilized life behind for awhile here, as you take to snowy trails on cross country skis or snow shoes. Pack a picnic lunch and look for scenic overlooks that seem surprisingly far away from mud fumeroles or rush hour traffic.
In short: you might get an icy reception if you plan your California travel for the winter months, but this is a good kind of chill. Down right cool, really.