Winter Getaway: Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway

Snowshoeing at Bear Valley Mountain
Photo by SNAC

California Snow Fun Without the Crowds

If you want easy-access to some of the best skiing and snowboarding, snowmobiling and snowshoeing adventures in California, then forget Tahoe. It’s Arnold, Big Trees State Park and Bear Valley—all along the Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway (CA-4)—where you’re going to want to head. And guess what, coming here instead will save you hours of driving along jam-packed highways. Now that’s the kind of snow fun you can easily get excited about.

So, what can you do when you get here? Check out our top picks for winter activities, where we reveal all the best snowshoeing, sledding, skiing and snowmobiling spots in the area.


And speaking of snowmobiling, we’ve got the only trail system in California where you can rent a snowmobile and head out into the wilderness without a tour guide. Think Ebbetts Pass is beautiful in the summer by car? Just imagine how gorgeous it is as a winter wonderland. The scenic route turns into a 40-mile snow-highway for snowmobiles and other winter sports enthusiasts via the Lake Alpine Sno-Park. This favorite route combined with additional trail systems at Bear Valley and the Spicer Reservoir Sno-Park (another 40 miles) make for  some of the best snowmobiling in California.

Bear Valley Snowmobile
Photo by Bear Valley Snowmobile

Additionally this year, snow lovers who prefer backcountry snow fun, will have the opportunity to enjoy a new, non-motorized Sno-Park too. The area’s third Sno-Park, opening near Round Valley in Bear Valley and accessible from Highway 247 (the road to Bear Valley Mountain), offers up great backcountry skiing and challenging snowshoe adventures with the added bonus of stunning views of the Sierra.

So, are you ready to plan your California winter getaway? Check out our itinerary suggestions below which include plenty of snow play (or not, for those folks in your family who may not be as enthusiastic about the white stuff as you are), plus ideas for lodging, dining and more:

Winter in Calaveras: Catch the Highlights

Winter in Calaveras: Active Adventures 

Winter in Calaveras: Unwind, Indulge…or Both

Insider’s Tip

For some memorable family fun (and a great addition to your holiday festivities), be sure to attend Calaveras Big Trees’ Winter Wonderland event taking place on Friday, December 27th from 11 am – 3 pm. Take a horse-drawn wagon ride through the big trees and enjoy cocoa and cookies, live music and crafts inside Jack Knight Hall, all decked out in holiday finery.

Winter Wonderland at Calaveras Big Trees State Park