As temperatures begin to shift, Ski California resorts are gearing up for the 2021-22 winter season with investments in infrastructure, facilities improvements and technology that will continue to allow for fast, contactless lift access, reservations and payment, and high-quality experiences. Last year, Ski California’s 33 member resorts in California and Nevada offered skiers and snowboarders a safe way to recreate outdoors, despite the global pandemic. This season, resorts will continue leveraging technology and other efficiencies to give their guests a convenient way to access their mountains, lessons, equipment rentals, restaurants and more.
“Ski California resorts safely operated all season long, giving skiers and riders a sense of normalcy while recreating outdoors in an otherwise challenging time,” said Michael Reitzell, Ski California president. “As the 2021-22 season approaches, resorts in California and Nevada have invested in further enhancing the guest experience and are continuing to seek out efficiencies and technologies that allow them to offer a seamless, and in many cases, contactless way to have an awesome day on the mountain.”
On Jan. 29, 2022, Ski California member resorts will also participate in Ski California Safety Day, with guest-centric activities and events designed to educate skiers and riders about safety on the slopes. The theme of this season’s effort is “collisions” and how to prevent them from occurring. Ski California has partnered with the High Fives Foundation on the initiative, which will include a new B.A.S.I.C.S video on the topic. Safety is a priority every day of the season, but Ski California Safety Day emphasizes the resorts’ shared commitment to safety through resort-specific and industry-wide initiatives.
The Ski California Gold Pass, the only season pass that offers unrestricted, fully transferable access to all 33 downhill and cross country member resorts in California and Nevada sold out for the 2021-22 winter season. The wait list is now open for those interested in purchasing for 2022-23. Only 150 Gold Passes are available each season, and the unlimited pass can be used by anyone with it in their possession, with no blackout dates.
While things have improved since last season, the pandemic is not over. Member resorts will continue to share COVID-19 related policies and procedures on their websites and social media channels. Skiers and riders should review this information before heading to the slopes. Highlights of what’s new at some of the resorts in California and Nevada ahead of the 2021-22 season (including expected opening dates, all of which are weather and conditions permitting) include:
- Bear Valley Resort: Events will make their return to Bear Valley Resort this season, including the Dodov Slopestyle Freestyle competition, Slush Cup dual slalom, Winter Explosion (Presidents’ weekend) and a New Year’s Eve celebration at the Lodge. Opening day: Nov. 27
- Big Bear Mountain Resort: Significant investments in new RFID technology will allow for seamless lift access and easy reloading of lift tickets online. New kiosks offer contactless lift ticket pick-up, and mobile food ordering will be available at select locations. A new season pass option includes unlimited winter access at Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, and Summit Bike Park access in the summer. The town’s new free trolley service will offer reliable, quick transportation to and from Snow Summit and Bear Mountain every 30 minutes. Don’t miss the annual New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade on Dec. 31 and the Bear Bowl on Feb. 12. Opening day: Snow Summit, Nov. 19; Bear Mountain, Nov. 26
- Boreal / Woodward Tahoe: Select your start time, arrive and get contactless mountain access at Boreal with “Go Time Tickets,” where ticket prices gradually decrease throughout the day. Boreal will welcome the Subaru Winterfest March 14-15, 2022, and Woodward Tahoe’s new All Access Membership offers 360-degree access to a 16-acre hub for all things action sports. Opening day: Nov. 18
- China Peak: Major investments in snowmaking have enhanced China Peak’s ability to offer a high-quality snow surface as soon as cold temperatures permit. The resort’s $4M system is now among the 10 largest in California. Extensive summer trail grooming will allow for earlier opening of key ski runs on less snow, and new food service Mainstream, one of China Peak’s two base area facilities, will give resort guests greater options. Opening day: TBD
- Diamond Peak: Forest health initiatives that included brush and small tree clearing have resulted in new glade skiing areas for skiers and riders to explore this winter. In addition, the resort’s signature events will return this season, including STOKE Mountain tours on select Saturdays, the annual Ullr Fest Party, Bonfire & Torchlight Parade, Last Tracks wine and beer tastings, Moonlight Snowshoe Tours, the 20th annual DummyDownhill, and the Luggi Foeger Uphill/Downhill Festival. Opening day: Dec. 9
- Dodge Ridge: Under new management for the first time in 45 years, Dodge Ridge is now under the same ownership group as Mountain High Resorts in Southern California. New this season, the resort is a member of the Powder Alliance with reciprocal ticket benefits at 16 resorts on the West Coast and in Japan. The resort will test snowmaking in the base area for the first time, and summer trail grooming work was completed on the resort’s main ski trails to allow for earlier opening. Opening day: TBD
- Heavenly Mountain Resort: The resort will continue to require cashless transactions, face masks indoors, reservations at many of its on-mountain restaurants, and vaccinations for guests ages 12+ at indoor dining quick-service cafeteria-style restaurants. Reservations will not be required for skiing and riding. Opening day: Nov. 19
- Homewood Mountain Resort: In celebration of its 60th anniversary season, the resort is asking patrons to share their Homewood memories--some of which will be included in a video to be compiled and shared by the resort during the season. The Easy As 1-2-3 adult lesson 3-packs resumes this season, with participants receiving a season pass upon completion of the program. Homewood is also bringing deals back this season including the $89 Learn to Ski/Ride special valid Sunday-Friday, non-holiday, and new lift ticket 3-pack specials. Over the summer, the resort has also focused its efforts on forest health projects within the resort boundary. Opening day: Dec. 10
- Kingvale Resort: Located on Donner Summit, and the newest Ski California member resort, Kingvale Resort offers surface lift accessible skiing, snowboarding and sledding. Two new surface lifts will debut this season, tripling the resort’s skiable terrain. Advance purchase lift tickets and time-based sledding reservations are required. Opening day: Nov. 26
- Kirkwood Mountain Resort: Expedition Kirkwood will offer multiple clinics and private lessons, including AIARE classes throughout the season. The resort will continue to require cashless transactions, face masks indoors, reservations at many of its on-mountain restaurants, and vaccinations for guests ages 12+ at indoor dining quick-service cafeteria-style restaurants. Reservations will not be required for skiing and riding. Opening day: Dec. 3
- Lee Canyon: The Chris Ruby Cup returns to Lee Canyon on Jan. 9, as well as $25 Feel Good Fridays in March. Complimentary group coaching will be offered to beginner and intermediate skiers and riders this season, and private instruction reservations will be available online. Guests can expect restaurant changes as the resort moves away from cafeteria-style service. Opening day: Dec. 8
- Mammoth Mountain/June Mountain: New daily air service to Bishop (BIH) airport from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver on United Airlines debuts this winter, along with regional service from Advanced Air between Mammoth Lakes airport and Burbank, Hawthorne and Carlsbad. Recharge between runs at the new Coca-Cola Lounge at McCoy Station, and enjoy refreshed guest rooms at the Westin Monache. The Mammoth Lodging Collection has also expanded its luxury homes portfolio, catering to families or groups who want their own private sanctuary. Opening day: Mammoth: Nov. 13; June: Dec. 18
- Mt. Baldy: Expanding its ability to offer a high-quality snow surface, Mt. Baldy invested in new snowmaking infrastructure this season, including SMI Pole Cats and a Super Pole Cat. The Mt. Baldy Banked Slalom returns Feb. 26, and the resort will continue to encourage advanced lift ticket purchases, with walk up ticket sales limited. Opening day: Nov. 25
- Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe: The resort has the most significant capital improvement project in its history underway, which will result in the expansion of the Lakeview area of the mountain. On-mountain improvements completed this summer include a $1+ million investment in snowmaking infrastructure on the Mine Train, Slide Bowl and Race Arena trails. Slope grading work designed to reduce obstacles and allow for terrain opening on as little as 12-inches of packed snow is in progress on Bruce’s Run. In addition, the 60-year-old domestic water system serving the main lodge base area is being replaced and will increase storage capacity and improve fire protection. Opening day: Nov. 12
- Mountain High: Close to $1 million in improvements were made at Mountain High including increased snowmaking with new energy efficient snow guns, new terrain park features, new Rossignol rental equipment and a new Prinoth Bison X snowcat. The resort also expanded its snow play facilities, offering more tubing lanes, sledding terrain and a larger snow play area. Opening day: Ready to open any day after Nov. 1, weather and conditions permitting
- Northstar California: The resort will continue to require cashless transactions, face masks indoors, reservations at many of its on-mountain restaurants, and vaccinations for guests ages 12+ at indoor dining quick-service cafeteria-style restaurants. Reservations will not be required for skiing and riding. Opening day: Nov. 19
- Palisades Tahoe: With a new name honoring the rich ski history of its mountains, Palisades Tahoe has formed a long-term partnership with the Washoe Tribe to help educate resort guests and the community about their history and culture. Tribe members host monthly Washoe Cultural Tours, have an exhibit at High Camp, and will help rename the Squaw One chairlift. This season, a new surface lift has been installed in the High Camp beginner area, and the new “Take 4” lesson package will save beginner skiers and riders $240 when they commit to four lessons. Mobile food ordering at on-mountain and Village restaurants return this year, as well as events including Kid-O-Rama (Feb. 19-26), The U.S. Freestyle Mogul Championships (March 23-27), and Winter Wondergrass (April 1-3). Opening day: Nov. 24
- Rim Nordic: Celebrating its 30th season this year, guests will enjoy the remodeled chalet and new rental equipment. Rim Nordic has also hired two additional instructors to offer more lesson options for those interested in learning or improving their cross-country skills. Opening day: Dec 15
- Sierra-at-Tahoe: In the wake of the devastating Caldor Fire, Sierra-at-Tahoe is in the process of evaluating the extent of damage to the resort to determine what their operations may look like this winter. The resort will continue to share updates as more information becomes available.
- Snow Valley Mountain Resort: Southern California’s longest continuously operating ski area has invested in a new surface lift for its Children’s Learning Center, and expanded snowmaking for the Snow Play sledding area that will allow the resort to offer up to 14 lanes. New touchless ticketing with REDYREF Interactive outdoor ticketing kiosks, and online rental equipment reservations will simplify the purchasing process for resort guests, and all new HEAD skis, snowboards, boots and helmets will offer skiers and riders access to the latest equipment technology. Opening day: Nov. 24
- Sugar Bowl / Royal Gorge: The Hotel at Sugar Bowl and all lodges, bars and restaurants will reopen at both resorts, however advance purchase of lift tickets will continue to be required for all visiting guests this season. Sales of daily lift tickets, rentals and lessons will begin next month. Face coverings will not be required outdoors, including in lift lines or while riding chairlifts, but they will be encouraged indoors. Opening day: Nov. 26
- Tahoe Donner Cross Country: For the first time, snowmaking has been installed at the area to ensure a high-quality early season snow surface for the center’s learning area and on a 3 km loop. A new Pisten Bully 400 will add to trail grooming efficiency, and summer trail work was completed to allow for better drainage and snow retention throughout the cross-country trail system. Opening day: Nov. 26
- Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort: Focused on offering a high-quality snow surface, Tahoe Donner purchased a new PistenBully snowcat to groom the mountain. The resort also added to its transportation fleet with a new fuel-efficient shuttle bus. Advance purchase of lift tickets, lessons and rental equipment will continue to be encouraged this season. Opening day: Dec. 10