girl in lake in snow in california

Snow in California: Top 10 things to know!

In the winter, it is not unusual to see snow in California. However, it’s a bit of an oddity, and often people don’t know what to do with themselves when they find out that snow has fallen on their doorstep.

Tips to be Careful during snow in California

snow in california

1) Prepare your car:

If you live in LA or San Francisco, chances are you’re going to be driving through the snow at some point during the year. So keep an eye on the conditions and make sure your tires have enough treads so that they can grip slippery surfaces like ice or snowy roads.

2) Dress appropriately:

Bundle up before venturing outside into cold temperatures! Pack gloves, hats, scarves, and extra socks so that your extremities stay warm. Make sure your coat is thick enough to prevent heat from escaping, and wear tall boots to protect your feet from snow and ice.

3) Drive carefully:

Snowy roads can be more hazardous than normal ones, so drive slowly or avoid driving altogether if you don’t feel comfortable.

4) Remove snow from rooftops:

A large amount of snow on the roof is dangerous for homes because it could lead to collapse. If there’s too much snow, call a professional to help you peel it off safely.

5) Check the forecast:

If you see dark clouds looming above, chances are there will be precipitation later in the day, including rain, hail, or even snow!

6) Stay off the slopes:

Skiing and snowboarding are not possible in most parts of the state. So if you’re thinking about hitting up Mammoth Mountain, check conditions before heading out because there haven’t been that many powder days this year.

7) Know where to go:

Specific places for sledding, snowball fights, and other fun winter activities. But, again, do your research beforehand to wander into a restricted area or an unsafe one!

8) Dress warmly:

California may be a desert state, but temperatures can get pretty frigid even here. So make sure to bundle up when dealing with low-lying clouds and fog—it’s just as chilly as it is on snow days!

9) Remember special events:

In Northern California, Berkeley holds a Winter Solstice Celebration that includes ice skating, holiday music, and hot cocoa.

10) Have fun!

The rare snow occasion in California is magical, so bundle up and enjoy the flurry of flakes descending from the sky!

Activities During snow in California

Snow in California is a rare event, but there are plenty of fun things to do when it does happen.

If you live in one of the higher elevations in California, chances are any snow that falls is going to stick around for a few days. So make the most of the situation with these fun activities:

1) Snowshoeing:

You can walk around safely on top of freshly fallen snow, so enjoy being outdoors and get a little exercise at the same time! Just remember to bundle up since there’s a severe lack of insulation when it comes to snowshoes, so wear gloves, hats, scarves, and extra layers.

2) Ice skating:

Most ice rinks have been dying due to climate change, but warmed-up weather doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out an ice rink! If your neighborhood rink has been closed during the winter, check the schedule and see if they’re hosting a rink party or opening up for one more season.

3) Sledding:

If you have access to a sled of any kind, now is the time to use it! You can find hills all over California, but some of the best spots include Mountain High Ski Resort in Wrightwood and Bear Mountain Ski Resort near Big Bear Lake.

4) Hot chocolate:

Enjoy a mug o’ cocoa by a roaring fire with family and friends! Don’t forget marshmallows!

5) Snow angels!:

Make shapes in freshly fallen snow with your friends or family members.

6) Snowball fight!:

Nothing says ‘winter fun’ like throwing projectiles at your loved ones during a snowball fight. Plus, it’ll warm you up!

7) Watch winter movies:

Make some popcorn and snuggle on the couch with a loved one as you watch your favorite holiday-themed movie on Netflix or at home.

8) Build a snowman:

It’s the quintessential California snow day activity, and it’s fun for all ages! Just remember to use gloves when forming those tiny balls of ice, and make sure to dress warmly because there is no such thing as ‘too many layers’ when it comes to snow days.

9) go sledding!:

Sleds can be purchased from most hardware stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot, but if you don’t feel like heading out into the cold, then Uhaul has rentals! You can rent everything from a small sled to an enormous snow tube and go careening downhills with your friends and family members.

10) Make it a movie night!:

Having some trouble deciding what to watch? Check out Rotten Tomatoes’ best-reviewed holiday movies list for inspiration.

11) Take a hike:

If the weather is nice, bundle up and head on outside to take in some fresh mountain air. Hiking during the winter months might prove more dangerous, but the views will be worth it! Be sure to check trail conditions beforehand or ask about any closures at the visitor’s center where you plan hiking.

12) Have a food drive:

In Morro Bay, California, local churches band together for a Food Drive on the day after Christmas.

13) Do a puzzle:

This is a great activity to do with children and grandchildren – it’s fun, easy, and perfect for a winter afternoon! Here are some nice puzzles at Amazon you can purchase.

14) Organize your home:

Take this opportunity to organize your basement or garage by purging items that no longer have a place in your home.

15) Get crafty!:

There are so many different crafting activities to choose from! For example, make paper snowflakes, make up a new recipe for hot cocoa, or construct gingerbread houses together as a family.

Places to experience snow in California

  • Bear Mountain, Big Bear Lake:Where: From I-10 in Redlands (take the Waterman Ave. exit and go south on Waterman) to Highway 18 (Angeles Crest Hwy.) at Wrightwood; or take I-210 to Foothill Blvd. west through Pasadena and into the Angeles National Forest. Wherever you live in Southern California, it’s not too far from a snow-covered mountain! When: January – March
  • Mountain High Ski Resort, Wrightwood: Where: 27422 Overland Trail Road, Wrightwood When: December – April
  • Mountain High East, Wrightwood Where: 5089 Pine Knot Ave., Wrightwood When: December – April
  • Moutain High West, Wrightwood Where: 5069 Pine Knot Ave., Wrightwood When: December – April
  • Bear Valley, Big Bear Lake Where: 8 trailheads around the town of Big Bear Lake When: December – March
  • Mammoth Mountain : Where: Highway 203 to Main Lodge Road to Canyon Blvd. Mammoth Lakes. From I-5 in Redlands (take the Waterman Ave. exit and go south on Waterman), go east to Hwy. 30, which merges with Hwy 330 in Mentone. Continue east on Hwy. Thirty-eight through San Bernardino National Forest to Oak Glen Orchard, where you will merge onto East Sierra Rd/Hwy 120, continue for several miles until you come to Main Lodge Road. Turn right and follow the signs to the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area at a distance of about 30 miles. When: December – April
  • Heavenly, South Lake Tahoe Where: Stateline, Nevada or off I-80 at exit CA-50/Bartlett/GM10 (Heavenly access road) When: November – May
  • Kirkwood, Kirkwood Where: CA-88 to Blue Church Rd./Kirkwood Meadows Dr. Follow signs to resort When: December – April  
  • Sierra at Tahoe : Where: Highway 50 west from Placerville, Calif., or east from Sacramento, Calif.; or Highway 88 west from Jackson, Calif., through Bear Valley and into Hope Valley; finally Highway 89 south through Tahoe City When: December – April
  • Sierra Star, Hope Valley Where: CA-89 to Hope Valley Road (Sierra Star access road). Continue for about 3 miles until you come to the resort. When: December – April
  • Mokelumne, Pinecrest Where: CA-88 to Pinecrest Lake Rd. in Hope Valley. Go west on Pinecrest Lake Rd., following signs for ski area/Mokelumne Wilderness parking lot When: January – March
  • Homewood, Homewood Where: Highway 88 west through Bear Valley and into Hope Valley; or Highway 89 north through Tahoe City When: December – April  
  • Sierra Summit, Hope Valley Where: CA-89 to Strawberry (across from Kyburz, Calif.) to gravel parking lot Turn around at the end of pavement and backtrack about 1 mile. Continue another 1 mile on a rough road through meadow When: December – March
  • Sugar Bowl, Norden Where: Along Donner Pass Rd./Highway 80 in Norden/Truckee, Calif. When: December – April
  • Mountain High East, Wrightwood Where: 5069 Pine Knot Ave., Wrightwood When: January – March


Winter in California, especially Northern California, is the perfect time to take advantage of all that newly fallen snow. Of course, you’ll want to bundle up and enjoy some winter activities like hot cocoa by a fire or ice skating at an outdoor rink. If you don’t have access to a sled or ice skates, there are plenty of other fun things you can do with your friends and family!

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