Recommend a quiet NorCal family ski destination
January 24, 2012 2:04 PM   Subscribe

Looking for recommendations for a quiet family ski area in Northern California. Special, details in side.

We're a family of four, with two kids, 11 and 7. We're taking the kids up to the snow in about a month for a brief but much-needed vacation, and will have a total of four days or so on the slopes. My wife and I both ski, but neither kid has any real experience with skiing, and we'd like to go somewhere where we can take some private lessons as a family and have a good time. Friendly and uncrowded is what we want. Ideally, we'd take some private family lessons in the morning and ski some bunny slopes with the kids in the afternoon. We mainly want downhill, but we might go cross country skiing one day as well.

The catch, I suppose, is that I'd like to go some place much more laid back than Tahoe, or really any of the large resorts. I was originally thinking of Dodge Ridge (which I last skied ~20 years ago), or perhaps Badger Pass (which I've never skied), but I would welcome other recommendations and especially recent and relevant experiences. We've done Tahoe to death so I want to go some place outside the greater Tahoe area -- so no North or South Tahoe resorts, no Bear Valley, no Kirkwood, etc. North or south of Tahoe is fine, as long as it's family friendly and within a 5-6 hour drive of SF.

Bonus if you can also recommend lodging.
posted by mosk to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have always wanted to ski Mt. Shasta. Seems like a small area, and while it may be a bit for for you, it would fit your other criteria, I think.

Plus, good cheap lodging in the city of Mt. Shasta, probably.
posted by Danf at 2:24 PM on January 24, 2012

Consider June Mountain.
posted by lathrop at 2:28 PM on January 24, 2012

Best answer: My family learned to ski at Badger Pass many years ago. I remember it being really great and beginner friendly.
posted by vespabelle at 2:45 PM on January 24, 2012

Best answer: A second for Badger Pass. Lots of family friendly terrain, cross-country trailhead right there, and they're telemark-friendly. And still cheaper than the big joints. Er. I think. They were last year. Of course, accomodations in Yosemite always a challenge, but check out The Redwoods At Yosemite (near Wawona). I want to go with you! :)
posted by zomg at 3:12 PM on January 24, 2012

Soda Springs is quiet and family friendly. Plus, snow tubing!

Bonus: Royal Gorge is right next door for amazing cross-country skiing.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:12 PM on January 24, 2012

Best answer: Dodge Ridge is the classic "close to SF" option.
posted by rhizome at 3:40 PM on January 24, 2012

Best answer: Another vote for Mt. Shasta. It'll be pretty close to your maximum distance (probably about 5 hours total from SF, maybe more if there is snow actually falling and chain restrictions in effect), but it's a beautiful mountain and a very friendly, non-pretentious town.

There is a pretty wide range of lodging options right in the main downtown area, including B&Bs, hotels, inns, lodges, etc. There are good pubs, tasty italian, excellent Chinese, and if you take a trek down to Dunsmuir you'll find fabulous Thai food.

I grew up an hour south of Mt. Shasta and now as an adult living on the total opposite side of the country lament I didn't go there more often. It's a special place.
posted by DuckGirl at 5:26 PM on January 24, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions. We need to do a bit more research to see which of these will work best for us, but these are all great. Thanks!
posted by mosk at 8:55 AM on January 25, 2012

Response by poster: OK, a small update: We're going to give Dodge Ridge a try this year, as it seems to have the right combination of easy access, reasonable prices, affordable lodging with doors to separate kids from grownups, good fall back options if the weather doesn't cooperate, etc.

Badger Pass looks great, but the lodging that's currently available isn't a good fit for us. I think BP would be great if we had made some reservations several months ago, or if our kids were old enough to trust in their own room. As it is now, we'll keep this one in our back pocket for next year.

The other options look great, too -- I wish we could do Shasta on this trip, as it seems pretty special, but it's just a bit too far for us.

Thanks, all!
posted by mosk at 3:52 PM on January 30, 2012

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