The snow-covered beauty of California ski country

SHERYL NANCE-NASH | 1/2/2020, midnight
Like it or not, winter is here. You may as well embrace the cold. There’s no place better to do ...
Snow fun in Squaw Valley, California

Like it or not, winter is here. You may as well embrace the cold. There’s no place better to do that than in California ski country. Squaw Valley and Mammoth Lakes just might make you change your mind about the cold once you experience their snow-covered beauty.

What’s not to love? Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is a resort known around the world for its 6,000 acres in which you can ski across two mountains and take in the unimaginable views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada.

It’s a different world in the tiny village at Squaw Valley that has just over 3,000 residents. The powder rules. Snow is revered here. Cold is invigorating, and not an issue. If you’re not a ski pro, no worries, take a lesson for newbies or if you need a refresher. However, if you’re just not feeling like getting on the two “sticks,” there’s action elsewhere, be it tubing, sledding, ice skating, or hopping on a snowmobile.

Or slow down and enjoy the scenery on an aerial tram ride with views of Lake Tahoe. It’ll be an awesome 10 minutes of the lake and mountain vistas on a ride that climbs more than 2,000 feet. High Camp is 8,200 feet above sea level. Keep the chill vibe going with Vinyasa, Hatha, Aerial and other types of yoga at Wanderlust studios.

For sure you want to wind down your afternoon at the legendary Le Chamois (The Chammy) & Loft Bar, where folks gather after a day on the slopes. The atmosphere is vibrant, everybody has a tale about their snow encounter, some are taller than others, but it’s all good fun. Beer and wine flow. Satisfy that hunger with chicken wings, chili fries, jalapeno poppers, onion rings, cheesy bread, soups, salads, pizzas and more. You’ll love all the sports memorabilia on the walls, including Olympic history, it’s a museum of sorts.

Dining options are plentiful. Some favorites include Rocker, PlumpJack Café, and Fireside. Be sure to have lunch at Granite Bistro at High Camp for great views and good grub.

Hit reset and repeat for another day or so before checking out of The Village at Squaw Valley resort and continuing on to Mammoth Lakes for more fun in the mountains. The drive is a little over three hours, but you won’t mind. The journey is beyond scenic, beautiful indeed. Mammoth Mountain at 11,053 feet is the highest lift-served summit in California. There’s 3,500 acres of skiable terrain to show off your moves or get started as a rookie.

The Village Lodge at Mammoth is an ideal spot to call your temporary home. You’ll especially love the hot tubs for soaking those ski legs. Speaking of muscle relief, put on the top of your agenda a visit to Simply Massage. They’ll take good care of you. Much like at Squaw Valley, in addition to stellar skiing opportunities, you can snowmobile, tube and otherwise frolic in the snow. If you’re in the mood for retail therapy, you can indulge yourself too.

Do take the après ski snowcat tour to the scenic Minareta Vista. Cap off your evening with dinner and drinks at 53 Kitchen & Cocktails. You know if cocktails is part of the name you’re going to get some of the best craft cocktails in town. The food is just as impressive, be it appetizers like crab and artichoke dip––with lump crab, baked artichoke, smoked gouda and pretzel bread–– or cauliflower bites tossed in chimichurri or signature main dishes such as a maple bourbon seared pork chop, sweet potato mash, roasted brussels sprouts, maple bourbon glaze or blackened salmon with mango glaze on a bed of coconut fried rice.

When you think of California, sunshine and beaches likely come to mind. But it’s also about sunshine, snow and skiing.