For the vast majority of Californians, we don’t experience snow, especially for recreational use. After all, much of the Central Valley, if any at all, does not receive snow; the most notable phenomena for us here is plentiful rain (we really need that!) and tule fog. It doesn’t snow in the Bay Area either, or in Southern California (Los Angeles), or for the countless coastal cities. Instead, snow is accessible in the countless mountain ranges in California, usually less than an hour’s drive no matter your location. California’s official snow play areas are designated as SNO-Parks, which are located within U.S. Forest Service’s land.

Obviously they’re not the only snow play areas in the state, but they’re a great place to start. A SNO-Park’s accessibility varies, as some may be full of people, and some just may not be accessible at all, or have limited access, in which snow chains are necessary. Last I visited a SNO-Park, pretty much all of them were accessible (recently plowed), and I could go for the areas with less people (which means more undisturbed snow and way less children). Even if you don’t want to play with the snow, it sure does make for some exotic pictures, and a unique hiking experience (best with some hot chocolate or coffee, or both – a mocha!). The snow can hang around even in early spring, so there may be plenty of time to plan a visit.