Share This

The Sierra Nevada receives A LOT of snow during the cold months. But even in the snowiest winters, there are long periods of time in between the storms. These stretches of time feature weeks of sunshine where the sky is impossibly blue, and the weather is calm. You literally can do ANYTHING from summer fun to winter outings. If you’re looking for a day off from the slopes, these things to do in Sierra Nevada in winter besides skiing are perfect for you.

Go For A Paddle

Standup Paddleboarding in Spring next to Bonsai Rock in Lake Tahoe
Photo by: Ryan Salm Photography – Image appears courtesy: North Lake Tahoe Chamber

Skiing and snowboarding is all about using those legs, so any day off activity should rest those muscles. What better option than go picturesque paddle on the lake? How many wintry places can you shove off on a kayak or standup paddleboard during winter surrounded by snow? The only place we can think of is Lake Tahoe. Sure, the air temp maybe in the 40’s but it’ll feel warmer with the sun shining down on the water. And during the spring, you’ll have the water pretty much to yourself.

Hop On Board A Snowcat

Image Appears courtesy: Mammoth Mountain

For those schussing the 3,500 acres of Mammoth Mountain, you can get tired pretty quickly especially since the town sits at 7,900’ above sea level. There are many winter activity alternatives in the Mammoth Lakes Area, but one of our personal favorites is the snowcat tour to Minaret Vista. If you’ve ever seen the machines grooming the mountain, that’s what a snowcat is… except this one has a heated cabin on the back. Think of it as a bus-style tank for snow. The luxury ride includes scenic views of the legendary Minarets AND some awesome snacks.

Stroll Historic Downtown Truckee

Truckee Hotel Historic Lodges In The High Sierra
Image appears courtesy: Truckee Chamber of Commerce

Established in 1868 as a railroad community, it linked the legendary transcontinental railroad through California to the eastern part of the United States. Since then, this quaint town has kept its charm and provides visitors the perfect place to stroll. The historic downtown Truckee area is filled with beautiful brick buildings featuring amazing restaurants like the Squeeze In, unique shops, art galleries, and even a fun train museum that kids would enjoy. For more winter activities in and around Truckee that aren’t related to skiing check out Truckee’s article “Fun Winter Activities in Truckee.”

Go Wine Tasting

Interior of Inner Sanctum Winery Tasting Room in Tuolumne County California
Image appears courtesy: Visit Tuolumne County

One of our favorite hidden gems in the High Sierra for skiing is Dodge Ridge. Featuring relaxed vibes, easy to navigate slopes, and acclaimed ski/snowboard lessons for all ages, it’s the perfect spot to learn to ski or snowboard. And after you’ve caught the winter wave, why not celebrate a job well done by going on a wine tasting tour. This time of year is your chance to taste the winter varietals at Inner Sanctum CellarsGianelli Vineyards, and Hurst Ranch tasting rooms.

As you can see, regardless of what winter throws at the High Sierra or if you just need a break from skiing/snowboarding, there’s a lot to do in the Sierra Nevada in winter that doesn’t require snow.

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

Share This

Follow Us

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content

Stay Up to Date

for updates on hidden gems, events, and more from California's High Sierra.

More Trip Ideas

More Trip Ideas

Keep Discovering

Need more reasons to visit the Sierra Nevada High Country?

Get a glimpse of the stunning scenery to see and activities to do in the Sierra Nevada.

View Gallery Brochure

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content