After a landmark season last year, California's ski and snowboard resorts are pumped to do it again, with a half-dozen more opening around Thanksgiving and plenty of snow on the way.
Resorts in the Golden State can't expect the amount of snow that fell last season, but forecasts promise double-digit storms into early December – and maybe beyond.
With that in mind, here's some of what's new at ski and snowboard resorts around Lake Tahoe and in southern California mountains:
About 35 miles from the lake, Kirkwood introduces a full-on backcountry guided program called Expedition: Kirkwood. Guides lead advanced skiers and riders into the backcountry for full- and half-day adventures. Also, Kirkwood has groomed 37 miles of X-C trails for fat-tire bikes.
At the south end of Lake Tahoe, Heavenly Valley is offering overnight guests at Gondola Vista, Lakeland Village or Zalenta Resort can go for an after-hours run with the resort's ski patrol. Then, stop in at Lakeview Lodge for an exclusive apres-ski party.
Those who drive to Northstar should be either ready for a longer hike to the lifts or pay to park closer in, as the North Tahoe resort works to reduce traffic and encourage use of public transport.
Up near Donner Pass, Sugar Bowl has a new cover lift for beginners, a remodel of rooms at the main hotel, renovation of the Mid-Mountain Lodge, a mini-pipe and new features on top-to-bottom terrain park.
A recent spate of storms across Southern California have given life to early-season skiing and riding at the resorts in the San Bernardino Mountains above the Los Angeles basin. Three mountains are expected to open earlier than expected – Mountain High, Big Bear, and Snow Summit.
One of the closest ski and snowboard tracks to Los Angeles, Mountain High put serious money into snowmaking over the summer. Also, there's a new snow-play complex for the kids and a fleet of snow bikes for rent.
Sun-worshippers will be happy with the doubling of the size of the sun deck at Bear Mountain base lodge. Now as big as a football field, the deck has new seating, outdoor dining and fire pits at the mountain above Big Bear Lake. Sister resort Snow Summit continues to put money in snowmaking.