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Winter’s here, which means plenty of snowy fun to be had. From hitting the slopes to setting off on a pair of snowshoes or even just some classic snow-play shenanigans, the High Sierra has it all. Before you stuff the car and set off on your adventure, here’s a few things to consider before you depart.

Know Before You Go

We can’t stress this enough – plan ahead. While many parts of the High Sierra region are open, certain activities such as national parks have shorter hours and lodging may not be available. For the latest of what’s going on in each region, we suggest visiting The Latest High Sierra COVID-19 Travel News & Resources page.

Check Road Conditions

Even though sunshine is the predominant weather phenomenon in the winter months all that snow has to come from somewhere. The Sierra Nevada is the first barrier storms have to cross entering into the continent. Even though it’s sunny right now or where you’re starting from weather can change at the drop of the hat in the mountains. Sometimes chains are required or there are other weather-related restrictions so we recommend everyone check the CalTrans page or call 1-800-427-ROAD. And in Yosemite, you can call (209) 372-0200 then press 1 and 1 to get a daily update on road conditions. 

Set Your Expectations Appropriately

Snowboarders with masks walking at Boreal Mountain California
Image appears courtesy: Visit Truckee-Tahoe – Photo by: Mike Dawson, Boreal Mountain California

If you haven’t heard, nearly all ski resorts in California’s High Sierra have their lifts turning. With that being said, every ski area has created certain protocols to keep all visitors as safe as possible. To learn what to expect in each region, head over to our post What To Expect For The 2020/21 High Sierra Ski Season.

Always Have Plan B And Maybe Even Plan C

If anything, this pandemic has taught us it’s about making lemonade out of lemons. No matter how well you plan ahead, things can change quickly. Maybe one of the infamous Sierra storms pounds the mountains closing the lifts or the reservations are full at a given location. Here’s a few ideas of outdoor adventures in California High Sierra with elbow room you can enjoy during winter.

Be Responsible For Your Own Actions

Be aware that the healthcare systems in the mountain towns of the High Sierra are VERY small. We’ve all been cooped up for a long time but dial down the gnar factor for now. And if you do venture into the backcountry, be sure to have proper training, equipment, and information such as the avalanche forecast from the Sierra Avalanche Center & Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center. For a few more tips on how to stay safe in the backcountry visit Take Care Tahoe’s backcountry safety page.

Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints

East Shore Trail on Lake Tahoe after snowfall
Image appears courtesy: Go Tahoe North

The mountains are a wonderful place to explore and experience, but please take back everything you come with. Or better yet, if you see a piece of trash, pick it up and properly dispose of it. Trash has become a major issue throughout the Sierra Nevada we ask all of you to do your part on making sure that generations can enjoy its beauty.

If you do make it up to the High Sierra, we hope you consider these tips before you set off on your adventure. Happy trails!

Author: Alex Silgalis

Alex Silgalis is an outdoors travel writer who enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, or having a cold one from a local mountain brewery. See more of Alex’s work at

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