Spring skiing in California means wearing a T-shirt on the trails and sipping beers in the sun. Equally enticing are the cheaper lift tickets and the abundance of hotel deals. Here are six resorts offering end-of-season ski deals tempting us to California’s snow and sunshine.
Ninety miles east of Sacramento, Sugar Bowl is a sweet spot for freeriders. In spring, daily lift ticket prices at this historic ski resort shrink to less than $79 per adult on weekends (or around $60 mid-week). In late April, mid-week rates for three nights’ accommodation in a cozy lodgette at Donner Lake Village, less than 10 minutes’ drive from the ski area, plummets to less than $350.
Total price: $580 for two adults, both with two-day lift tickets, three nights’ accommodation mid-week, late April. Book through Snowpak, Booking.com and the Sugar Bowl website.
Kirkwood Mountain Resort has a wilder feel than its Lake Tahoe resort neighbors, and there are numerous weekend deals in late March through mid-April. We found the biggest savings booking lift tickets online in advance and reserving accommodation at the no-frills Apex Inn in South Lake Tahoe for $85 a night. To avoid the 40-minute drive between South Lake Tahoe and the ski fields, on-mountain accommodation at The Meadows adds another $200 to the total price tag.
Total price: $540 for two adults, both with two-day lift tickets, two nights’ accommodation at Apex Inn, late March to mid-April. Book through Hotels.com and the Kirkwood Mountain Resort website.
Less than three hours’ drive from Los Angeles or San Diego, Big Bear has dozens of hotels and cabin rentals offering lift and lodging packages. Wood-lined one-bedroom lakefront cabins (like Juniper and Sunset) cost less than $90 per night from March through mid-April. For two-night stays, a one-day lift ticket is thrown in for free; alternatively there’s 20 percent off passes bought online 72 hours in advance.
Total price: $564 for two adults, both with three-day lift tickets and three nights’ accommodation, mid-March to mid-April. Book through Big Bear Vacations.
Slope-side accommodation, epic views of Lake Tahoe and big savings… if you’re able to take a mid-week break. Until late April, the Tahoe Super 4 Pack gets you four days of skiing at Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows less than $113 per day, plus a 20 percent discount from Sunday to Thursday at The Village at Squaw Valley, on-mountain accommodation with hot tub access. Women skiers: enjoy more savings by booking the Women of Winter Clinic for $59.
Total price: $1,580 for two adults, both with four-day lift ticket and five nights’ accommodation (Sunday to Thursday, mid-March to late April). Book through the Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows website.
At Mammoth Mountain, the season is long and the mountains are high (with a 3,100-foot vertical drop). You won’t get a ski weekend here for a rock-bottom price, but lift ticket rates slide from late February (buy online seven days ahead) and accommodation prices drop in late April through May. We found three-night weekend stays in April at the charming, superbly located Alpenhof Lodge for $467, taking the sting out of the $240 per person two-day lift tickets.
Total price: $949 for two adults, both with two-day lift tickets and three nights’ accommodation, late April to late May. Book separately through the Mammoth Mountain website and Booking.com.
It isn’t a big resort and it isn’t snow-sure late in the season, but we still have a soft spot for Mount Shasta’s great-value lift tickets and picturesque night skiing. Two people skiing Saturday through Monday pay a total of $366 in lift tickets. Twenty minutes’ drive downhill is the Mount Shasta Resort, which has slashed accommodation prices by 50 percent: less than $65 per night for a room, or $95 for a chalet complete with a fireplace, a kitchen and a private deck.
Total price: $560 for two adults, both with three-day lift tickets and three nights’ accommodation, late February to mid-March. Book separately through the Mount Shasta Resort and Mount Shasta Ski Park websites.
Packages on resort websites don’t always have the deepest discounts – always compare them against the cost of purchasing accommodation and lift tickets separately.
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