There are some great ski towns in Northern California that get a ton of national press. Places like Truckee, South Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lake are known by the masses to be some of the best places to ski and play in the Sierra Nevada. But for us NorCal locals, there’s another place in the area that’s the perfect little ski town, and now National Geographic has caught on.
Mount Shasta has been named one The Best Secret Ski Towns of North America by National Geographic, and it’s a validation to one of the great mountain towns of NorCal. The 10 locations that made the list include an interview with a local giving their two cents on the location’s Best Digs, Best Eats, Best Après Spot, Best Off-the-Slopes Activity, and Favorite Local Run. Here’ what they had to say about the town:
Best For: Spring skiers looking to tackle one of America’s classic test pieces
In the most northerly reaches of California rises Mount Shasta, a 14,179-foot stratovolcano visible for a hundred miles in every direction that hosts a small universe of backcountry skiing opportunities on its flanks. At the mountain’s foot, over 10,000 feet below the summit, rests the town of Mount Shasta, a low-key skier’s base with a population of 3,394. In true California style, there’s a new-age vibe here, with a gas station converted to a crystal shop, frequent UFO sightings, and fervently relayed rumors of a spiritually advanced race living inside the mountain.
More important for skiers, the county plows the Everitt Memorial Highway that delivers you through 20-foot-high snowbanks to 6,950 feet on the mountainside. From here it’s a wide-open world of bowls, superlong steeps, and open faces to explore. A thick, maritime snowpack adheres to Shasta well into summer, and year-round turns are possible. Visit in the spring for 8,000-foot descents off the dormant volcano’s very summit—one of the finest descents in backcountry skiing—without the dangerous crevasses that mar similar peaks like Rainier. In town, there are two expert ski shops that rent backcountry gear, while Shasta Mountain Guides can show you the mountain. The Mount Shasta Avalanche Center is an excellent resource for snowpack information. Seven miles from the town, the small but uncrowded Mount Shasta Ski Park offers lift-served skiing and intro-to-the-backcountry lessons.
Ask a Local
Chris Carr, owner of Shasta Mountain Guides, has been guiding on Mount Shasta since 1995.
“The Mount Shasta Resort offers quaint mini-cabins on Lake Siskiyou. Cold Creek Inn offers clean, basic rooms in town. Otherwise car camping at the trailhead for slope-side accommodations.”
“Actually are in Dunsmuir, six miles south. Cafe Maddalena is awesome, as well as Dogwood Diner (which has since closed).”
Best Après Spot
“The Goat Tavern (which has since closed) is the local après spot for beers and burgers. Wayside Grill has great atmosphere and is a party spot; the food is mediocre, but they do have music and movies and events.”
Best Rest-Day Activity
“Crystal spinning, alien viewing, and Lemuria exploring”
Favorite Local Run
“Castle Lake and Casaval Ridge”
Here is the full list from National Geographic:
#10. Los Alamos, New Mexico
#9. Pagosa Springs, Colorado
#8. Field, British Columbia
#7. Cooke City, Montana
#6. Philipsburg, Montana
#5. Mount Shasta, California
#4. Fraser, Colorado
#3. Smithers/Terrace, British Columbia
#2. Glacier, Washington
#1. McCall, Idaho
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine