Okay, we don’t have snow days in Benicia, but that doesn’t mean we can’t travel to have a snow day. There is something so serene about drifting snowflakes and the scent of pine trees, and I can’t help but think that a trip to the beauty of winter mountains would be a wonderful retreat.
Yes, I know about I-80 and I-50. There’s no doubt that you have to plan your trip carefully, because timing is everything. If at all possible, take your snow trip midweek. Traffic is light and accommodations are more plentiful. If your only option is the weekend, the best thing you can do is to try to go earlier or later than the peak times. In my experience, if you can leave the Bay Area before noon on a Friday, you are usually in the clear. Or, go later, leaving Benicia around 7:00 pm on Friday evenings, because rush hour traffic has usually cleared by then. The reverse route is, of course, busiest on Sunday afternoon. For the return from Tahoe to the Bay Area, leaving before noon or after 6:00 p.m. on Sundays seems to work well on most regular ski weekends.
In Lake Tahoe you can take on the snow anywhere from zero to 80 miles per hour! Race down your favorite mountain on skis or a snowboard. Drive a snowmobile, or ride in a horse-drawn sleigh, or in a sled pulled by a team of huskies, or let gravity pull you as you sled and tube down a hill. Hike around in boots or snowshoes. Or, take a break from the snow and glide across ice at a skating rink. If you like slower-paced snow fun, build a snowman or throw some snowballs. For zero acceleration, sit indoors near a window and a cozy fireplace and gaze at the snow.
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a lot of uncertainty, but the ski resorts hope to operate as close to normal as possible, with several new protocols and safety measures in place to ensure the health and safety of guests and community. Please check with skicalifornia.org for updates on all California and Nevada resorts as information may change daily as conditions and restrictions are updated. For a safe snow day, they will require face coverings whenever physical distancing cannot be achieved. This includes both indoor and outdoor spaces, except when eating or drinking.
CALIFORNIA & NEVADA SKI RESORT OPENING SCHEDULE
Resort Scheduled Opening Day
Bear Valley Thanksgiving Weekend
Boreal Nov 23
China Peak Thanksgiving Weekend
Diamond Peak Dec 10
Dodge Ridge TBD
Heavenly Nov 20
Homewood Dec 11
Kirkwood Dec 4
Mt Rose TBD
Northstar Nov 20
Soda Springs Nov 27
Squaw Alpine Nov 25
Sugar Bowl Nov 27
Tahoe Donner Mid-December
Be sure to check before you head up to the high country, though, as opening dates are tentative and dependent on snowfall and weather.