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Everything from ice skating with Half Dome views, snow play options, x-country plus downhill skiing
curry ice rink
Courtesy Visit Yosemite The Curry Village ice rink.

The great thing about living in the Northern San Joaquin Valley is the snow is where it belongs in the mountains and not down here.

That means there is plenty of snow — and skiing  — in the 209’s backyard that’s within 2 to 3 hours of Manteca, Turlock, Ripon, Lathrop, Ceres, and Oakdale.

This year there are five skiing options and plenty of snow play areas in the 209 as well as the venerable Curry Village ice skating rink.

*DODGE RIDGE: Located on Highway 108, this is the closest ski resort to Manteca or Turlock.

*BEAR VALLEY: This is the eighth largest ski area in California. It is reached via Highway 4.

*YOSEMITE SKI: You can reach it via Highway 120. It is the most low-key with five lifts. It was known for years as Badger Pass.

*BEAR VALLEY CROSS-COUNTRY: It is separate from Bear Valley Ski Resort and is located right along Highway 4 several miles before the turnout to the downhill ski resort.

*YOSEMITE CROSS-COUNTRY: While this is accessed at the former Badger Pass Ski Resort, there is no charge for access save for the $35 vehicle entrance fee to the park that’s good for seven days.

There are also a number of snow play and skating options.




The ski runs are nice but arguably the best draw is the fact you can reach it a good 30 to 45 minutes quicker than any other ski area. That means you can get more slope time in without having to get up earlier.

It doesn’t hurt that on the way back home you can stop in Sonora with the widest variety of dining options in the Mid-Sierra.

Regular all day rates (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)  are adult/teen (13-64) $129, youth (6-12) $59, and seniors (65-74) $99.

Skiers 75 and older and those 5 and under are free.

Specialty tickets include afternoon half day for an adult/teen for $99 as well as active military all-day for $92.

The base elevation at Dodge Ridge is 6,600 feet. The summit elevation is 8,200 feet. There are 12 lifts with the longest vertical drop being 1,600 feet. There are 67 runs on 863 skiable acres with 40 percent rated advanced, 40 percent intermediate, and 20 percent beginner. The longest run is 2 miles. The lifts operate from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. In addition there are three plus terrain parks at Dodge Ridge.

*MORE INFO: The website is The ski resort is located 86.5 miles from Manteca via Highway 120 to Highway 108 and then turn right on Dodge Ridge Road. It is an hour and 48 minute drive.





The largest ski resort in the 209, Bear Valley also operates a NASTAR course nearly every weekend making it one of two ski resorts in California with a rich history in racing.

All day rates regular rates are $135 for those 18 to 69, $105 for ages 13 to 17 as well as seniors 70 and older, $69 for ages 6 to 12 and $25 for ages 5 and under.

Peak rates are $155 for those 18 to 69, $129 for ages 13 to 17 as well as seniors 70 plus, $79 for both ages 6 to 12 and $30 for those 5 and under.

The base elevation at Bear Valley is 6,600 feet while the mid-mountain lodge is 7,750 feet. The summit elevation is 8,500 feet. There are nine lifts with the longest vertical drop being 795 feet. There are 75 runs on 1,680 skiable acres. It ranks as the eighth largest resort in the state in terms of skiable acres. The longest run is 0.2 miles. The lifts operate from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

*MORE INFO: The website is The ski resort is 104 miles from Manteca via Highway 4 to Highway 207 where a left turn takes you to the resort. It is a 2 hour and 10 minute drive.



This is one of only three ski areas with lifts in a national park. It require paying a $35 vehicle entrance fee to Yosemite National Park.

The base elevation at Yosemite Ski is 7,200 feet while the summit elevation is 8,000 feet. There are 10 runs and five lifts.

*MORE INFO: The website is The ski resort is 145 miles from Manteca via Highway 120. Once in the park, drive to the valley and take the Tunnel Road to reach Glacier Point Road where the resort is located. It is a 2 hour and 50 minute drive.



The Bear Valley Cross Country and Snowshoe Trail System consists of 35 trails covering 3,000 acres. They offer a variety of lesson options and some equipment rental.

All day passes are $40 for ages 18 to 59, $35 for ages 60 to 69 as well as ages 13 to 17, $20 for ages 9 to 17, $30 for those 70 and older, and $15 for kids  5 to 8 while those 4 and under are free.

Peak rates are higher.

*MORE INFO: The website is The cross country ski area is east of Arnold on Highway 4.




There are 90 miles of trails and 25 miles of groomed track.

The 21-mile round trip to Glacier Point with its incredible wintertime view of the valley below, Half Dome, Nevada Falls and the Sierra mountains beyond makes any other cross-country ski venture mundane.

Given you can’t drive to Glacier Point in the winter due to the snow, the solitude at Glacier Point is stunning although there will be a handful of skiers at the overlook.

While there is no trail charge, there is a large selection of rental equipment including snow shoes. You can also book two tours that also include trips to two overnight huts including the stunning one at Ostrander Lake. I’ve hiked to it in mid-spring when there was still plenty of snow on the ground and as light snow flurries fell. It was gorgeous so I can only imagine how incredible it is with a heavy blanket of snow.

*MORE INFO: The website is




There are sno-parks along the Highway 4 and Highway 88 corridors.

Sno-Parks are areas maintained in the winter to allow people to park safely so they can enjoy winter activities in national forests such as cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, snowmobiling , and limited snow play.

Sno-parks are far better than just pulling over to the side of the road. Not only do they have pit toilets and parking but they are sited in areas conducive to a wide variety of activity close to where you park.

Day permits can be purchased for $15 for a single day or an annual pass for $40. The pass is good at any sno-park in California as well as Nevada, Oregon, Washington, or Idaho.  They can be purchased online at ohv.parks/ .  They can also be purchased at local vendors such as Sierra Station No. 40 in Long Barn, 29822 Highway 108 (7 days, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.); Sierra Nevada Adventure Co., Arnold, 2293 Highway 4 (7 days, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.); and Ebbetts Pass Sporting Goods, Arnold, 925 Highway 4 (7 days, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.)


 The Highway 108 sno-park is six miles east of Strawberry that’s near the end of the plowed portion of the state highway. There are parking lots on both the north and south sides of the road. (These are spacious areas compared to the several you will find along Highway 4). You need permits to use the sno-parks between Nov. 1 and May 30.

There are three sno-parks along Highway 4. One is at the Spicer Meadow Road turnoff, one at the end of the plowed road near Lake Alpine, and a new one at Round Valley odd Highway 207 leading to Bear Valley.



The ultimate family snow play area minus skiing plus having the added convenience of lifts is the Leland High Sierra Snow play facility.

It consists of 12 acres featuring a “Little Hill” for kids and a “Big Hill” for everyone else. The big thing here is definitely tubing as well as just basic frolicking and having a grand old time playing in the snow.

There is also a lodge with a full kitchen, snack bar, and remodeled restrooms. Toss in a sun deck with plenty of chairs and tables along with a warm fire overlooking the base of the “Little Hill” and its ideal families.

It’s within two hours of Manteca at 6,200 feet.

It is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Tuesday and closed Wednesday. Equipment included in the prices.

Weekend and holiday rates are $49 for the all mountain all-day lift ticket for those 44 inches or taller and $29 for those under 44 inches. Children under 2 are free.

Weekday rates are $35 for those 44 inches and taller and $25 for those shorter than 44 inches.

*MORE INFO: The website is Leland High Sierra Snow Play is 89.6 miles from Manteca via Highway 120 to Highway 108 to a point four miles past Strawberry where you turn right on Leland Meadows Road and travel for about two miles. 





 The Curry Village Ice Skating Rink with spectacular views of Half Dome has been an enchanting winter experience since 1928.

Weather permitting, the rink is open daily thru March 5.

Daily 2½  hour sessions are at noon, 3:30 p.m., and 7 p.m.

Weekends and holidays have those three sessions plus one added at 8:30 a.m.

Yes, there is a fire pit.

Prices are $10 for adults and $9.50 for children. Skate rentals are extra.

And don’t forget the $35 entrance fee into Yosemite National Park that is good for seven days.