Top 10 Highest Elevation Ski Resorts on the West Coast:

Robin Azer |
Mammoth's legendary Chair 23. image: mammoth
Mammoth’s legendary Chair 23. image: mammoth

The West Coast mountains of North America offer up a plethora of options for phenomenal skiing. But in this list of Top 10 Highest Elevation Ski Resorts on the West Coast, only one can be crowned the champion. That honor belongs to Mammoth Mountain, in California. It is the only ski resort on the list to break into the 11,000′ mark on the West Coast.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area is located along the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. It tops this list with an impressive 11,053 summit elevation. In contrast, the lowest elevation of any ski resort on the west coast is a mere 2,090 ft at Hilltop Ski Area in Alaska.

As things warm up due to climate change, these high ski resorts are where you’ll want to look to:

#1. Mammoth Mountain, CA

Mammoth, CA
Mammoth, CA
  • Summit Elevation: 11,053 ft
  • Acres: 3,500
  • Annual Snowfall: 350 in
  • Lifts: 28

#2. June Mountain, CA

Credit: June Mountain FB page
Credit: June Mountain FB page
  • Summit Elevation: 10,135 ft
  • Acres: 500
  • Annual Snowfall: 279 in
  • Lifts: 8

#3. Heavenly, CA

Credit: Heavenly FB page
Credit: Heavenly FB page
  • Summit Elevation: 10,040 ft
  • Acres: 4800
  • Annual Snowfall: 312 in
  • Lifts: 30

#4.  Mt. Rose, NV

Mt. Rose ski resort and Lake Tahoe, NV/CA.
Mt. Rose ski resort and Lake Tahoe, NV/CA.
  • Summit Elevation: 9,700 ft
  • Acres:  1,200+
  • Annual Snowfall: ? 
  • Lifts: 6


#5. Kirkwood, CA 

Credit: Kirkwood Mountain Resort FB page
Credit: Kirkwood Mountain Resort FB page
  • Summit Elevation: 9,800 ft
  • Acres: 2,300
  • Annual Snowfall: 459 in
  • Lifts: 14

#6. Mt. Bachelor, OR

Credit: Mt. Bachelor FB page
Credit: Mt. Bachelor FB page
  • Summit Elevation: 9 065 ft
  • Acres: 3683
  • Annual Snowfall: 380 in
  • Lifts: 14

#7. Squaw Valley  Alpine Meadows, CA  

Credit: Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows FB page
Credit: Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows FB page
  • Summit Elevation: 9,050 ft / 7,050 ft
  • Acres: 3,600 / 2,400
  • Annual Snowfall: 363 in / 360 in
  • Lifts: 30 / 14

#8. Sierra-at-Tahoe, CA

Credit: Sierra-at-Tahoe FB page
Credit: Sierra-at-Tahoe FB page
  • Summit Elevation: 8,852 ft
  • Acres: 2,000
  • Annual Snowfall: 389 in
  • Lifts: 14

#9. Big Bear Mountain Resort, CA

Credit: Bear Mountain FB page
Credit: Bear Mountain FB page
  • Summit Elevation: 8,805 ft
  • Acres: 748
  • Annual Snowfall: 100 in
  • Lifts: 12

#10. China Peak, CA

Credit: China Peak FB page
Credit: China Peak FB page
  • Summit Elevation: 8,709 ft
  • Acres: 430
  • Annual Snowfall: 430 in
  • Lifts: 11

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11 thoughts on “Top 10 Highest Elevation Ski Resorts on the West Coast:

  1. Average (of base and top) elevation is the best way to rank a list like this. So Mt. Rose and Kirkwood come out better than Heavenly, which is the way every Tahoe skier knows it works when you get high rain/snow line events like this December.

    The rule of thumb altitude/latitude adjustment is 1,000 feet for every 4 degrees of latitude. Use this and you can rank the entire West Coast from Whistler to Big Bear. I have already done this for another project. The following altitude/latitude scores reflect the relative advantage/disadvantage of areas:

    1) Mammoth 1,416
    2) Mt. Rose 1,312
    3) Mt. Bachelor 882
    4) Whistler 801
    5) June Mt. 784
    6) Kirkwood 782
    7) Heavenly 524
    8) Mission Ridge 295
    9) Crystal Mt. 112
    10) Alpine Meadows 29

    The score can be negative as elevations get lower:
    Sugar Bowl -41, Sierra-at-Tahoe -54, Squaw -76, Northstar -211, Mt. Baker -463, Bear Mt. -971.

    Altitude/latitude scores run much higher in the Rockies. Alta/Snowbird and most Colorado areas are over 2,000. The highest scores are Loveland 4,170 and A-Basin 4,030.

    1. Thanks Miles, Love your webpage, check it every day. I really like you added World Cup Ski Racing results. See you on the slopes.

  2. The list also fails to acknowledge the importance of latitude. Big Bear should not be on a list of places to “look to” when climate change takes hold. For that matter, neither should anything south of Bachelor or lower than Mammoth.

  3. I immediately thought Mt Rose would be listed and after reviewing the altitudes of the resorts listed I see their omission was an error.

    1. I also wondered about Mt Rose, but the first words in title and in article include West Coast. Since Nevada does not have a coastline (unless you count Lake Mead), it is not West Coast. You could also argue that Mt Rose is further West than Mammoth, but that still does not put NV on the West Coast.

      And if you include Mt Rose, then what about Lee Canyon outside of Las Vegas. Their lift-served top is 9,370 according to their trail map and you could hike to the top of the peak at 11,289′.

      Another clarification that could be made is lift-served versus hiking as top elevations listed for both Kirkwood and Squaw are not lift-served and in Kirkwood’s case is out of bounds as far as I know.

      1. YEP, older post, but I have intimate knowledge of Kirkwood’s highest “lift-served” summit is ~9,800+”. I’ve skied the “hair-raising cornices and cliffs” back in the 1990s when snowfall was still in the hundreds of feet, yep “hundreds” of feet during a snow season. At 10,000 ft elev. and above, it technically falls into the “must use oxygen” category.

        My experience and it may have been skiing there in “out of bounds” areas, by hiking up and close to the peak summit of ~11K’ levels, but only made it to about ~10.5+K’ foot elev., but it damn sure gets hard to breathe up there, above Kirkwood’s lift service. I was in physical aerobic levels of a “26 Mile marathon runner” then too.

        In the 2000s, my wife and I, still wanting access to the highest peaks, we’d hire private snowmobile guides to take us 50-60 miles one way, where no avalanche control was used to mitigate the chances of back-country areas. Where no trails existed, and maybe only seen by zero to 4 people per year, during snow season. The “sleds” would get starved for oxygen too. The starting point was above Truckee, close to the summit on Hwy. 267, above King’s Beach.

        These were what came to be “extreme trips our of a lifetime.” It all stopped in 2007. I was hit from behind while stopped at a red light. He was going 47 MPH, yelling and looking at his wife, so zero brakes. BANG! Life, as you’ve lived it for decades, can change in a nanosecond!!! LIVE It that way…

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