Alta Sierra Ski Resort: All the Info You Need for a Ski Trip

Alta Sierra Ski Resort isn’t your traditional full-fledged ski resort. It is, however, a fantastic way to spend the day in the great outdoors during Southern California’s winter ski season.

Located high up in the Greenhorn Mountains of the Sequoia National Forest north of Los Angeles, Alta Sierra is the perfect place for beginners and intermediate winter enthusiasts to learn the sport or improve their skills.

The Shirley Meadows at Alta Sierra
The Shirley Meadows at Alta Sierra. Photo Credit AMOINICKEN (Flickr CC)

How Do I Get to Alta Sierra?

There are two primary routes to Alta Sierra. The first, and probably the most popular, is from Los Angeles, taking a little over three hours to cover the 170 miles. Specifically, drive I-5 north to the CA-99 exit for Bakersfield. Turn east on CA-178 until exit 43 for CA-155 north. Follow the signs to the ski resort.

Alta Sierra is 58 miles from the turn onto CA-178 in Bakersfield.

The second route is 199 miles in length, starts in Riverside, and bypasses Los Angeles. It takes about 3 hours and 40 minutes. Take I-215/I-15 to CA-395 north (exit 141). Follow CA-395 for 94 miles (about an hour and 30 minutes) to CA-178. Turn west on 178 to exit 43 for CA-155 north. Follow the signs to the ski resort.

Mountain Stats for Alta Sierra Ski Resort

  • Summit elevation: 7,091 feet; base elevation: 6,491 feet; vertical drop: 600 feet
  • Number of trails: 7
  • Number of lifts: 2 double chairs for skiers and boarders, plus one tow rope for the tubing hill

Lift Tickets and Rental Equipment

Both lift tickets and downhill gear are offered for half-day or full-day visits. Lower prices are available for kids 3 and younger, juniors (4-12), and seniors (65+). You’ll have the option of purchasing a complete gear package, or just the individual items you may need to supplement your personal equipment.

Be sure to purchase lift tickets and rent your equipment online, in advance of arrival, to ensure availability.

Is There Night Skiing Here?

Unfortunately, there is no night skiing at Alta Sierra.

Is There Lodging Nearby Alta Sierra Ski Resort?

Since Alta Sierra is a day park only, Proper Peaks recommends booking accommodations in Bakersfield, which is just one hour away. A great weekend plan is to drive up on Saturday for several hours of boarding and skiing, then spend the night in Bakersfield, where you will also find a wide array of lodging and dining options.

Head back to the resort on Sunday morning after an early breakfast. You’ll be on the slopes early, with the entire day ahead of you.

Alta Sierra’s Terrain Park

one terrain park for all skiers and boarders

Tubing at Alta Sierra

The tubing hill here isn’t too steep, making it perfect for families, especially those with younger kids under the age of 10. Tubing is offered for a set price for two-hour increments, allowing plenty of time for multiple runs down the hill. The adjacent tow rope takes riders back to the top in no time at all. Tubes are provided as part of the tubing fee.

Ski School

Learning to ski or snowboard at Alta Sierra Ski Resort is fun and affordable! Whether you prefer group or private lessons, the instructors here will share their downhill expertise, whether this is your first time on the slopes, or you’re just a bit rusty and want to quickly get back in the swing of things.

Private lessons are available for youngsters under the age of five, as well as ages six and older. Group lessons begin at age six through adult.

To ensure lesson availability, sign up online in advance of your visit.

Final Thoughts

When they have snow, Alta Sierra is a great one-day or weekend getaway from the L.A. area. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to plan ahead more than a few days, as the weather has to be cooperating in order for Alta Sierra to operate.

In most years, the resort is open much of the time from late December through at least late February, and sometimes beyond into March. However, during the Western drought, the snowfall in Southern California has been less than in year’s past, necessitating an early closure for the season.

Our advice? Keep an eye out for those monster winter storms that roar ashore from the Pacific. Chances are excellent that a fresh, deep, snowpack will ensue from these weather systems, making it time to head to the mountains for some winter fun.

Jessie Gonzalez writes for Proper Peaks and lives in Stockton, CA. One of her favorite things about snowboarding is seeing beginners get started and watching them enjoy the sport.

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