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Winter playland: Prime slopes just hours away
ski pic
There are over 16 ski resorts within a five hour drive of the Central Valley. - photo by Photo Contributed

Dodge Ridge

2 hours from Turlock

Directions: Take Geer Road north to Oakdale. Turn right onto E. F Street / CA-120, which turns into CA-108. Once in Sonora, Follow signs to continue onto CA-108. Turn right onto Pinecrest Lake Road.




3 hours from Turlock

Directions: Take Hwy. 99 north of Stockton to Hwy. 88 toward Jackson. Stay on Hwy. 88 through Jackson. Turn right onto Kirkwood Meadows Drive.



3 1/2 hours from Turlock

Directions: Take Hwy. 99 north of Stockton to Hwy. 88 toward Jackson. Stay on Hwy. 88 through Jackson. Turn left onto CA-124. Follow signs to stay onto CA-124. Turn right onto CA-16, which becomes CA-49. Turn left onto Missouri Flat Road. Merge onto US-50 toward South Lake Tahoe.



3 1/2 hours from Turlock

Directions: Hwy. 99 north to Sacramento. Take Capital City Fwy/ 1-80 east toward Reno. Take CA-89/CA-267 toward Sierraville/Lake Tahoe. Turn right onto Glenn Carlson Memorial Byp CA-267. Turn right onto Northstar Drive.



While the holiday season has brought fog to the Valley, it's the promise of coming snow just hours away in the Sierra Nevada — and its many ski resorts — that has local skiers and snowboarders giddy with excitement.

There are over 16 ski resorts within a five hour drive of the Central Valley, ranging from Fresno all the way up to Truckee, part of Northern Lake Tahoe.  But Turlockers only have to  drive 85 miles to reach the closest snow, Dodge Ridge Ski Resort, in Pinecrest.

“I honestly can’t be any more thankful that Dodge is so close from us,” said local snowboarder Ryan Rice. “We really are lucky because I love snowboarding and it is very nearby. I try to go as many times a year as possible.”

Rice has been a Dodge Ridge season pass holder for the last six years and said the distance plays a determining factor in his choice.

“I like to get my pass from Dodge because it is so close from me that I don’t have to drive as far,” Rice said. “Also, with a cabin nearby, it eliminates driving time and lets you experience the local aspect of a snow area.”

There has been only six inches of snowfall at Dodge within the last week, an unacceptable number to open the slopes, so it is still unclear as to the exact opening day as the resorts awaits the storms to hit.

Dodge Ridge adult lift tickets are $68 for all day and $58 for half day and can be purchased at local Save Marts.

Located roughly three and a half hours from Turlock is Kirkwood Mountain Resort, which many California skiers mention is one of the best, for sure, in the state especially with such a wide range of trails that cannot be conquered in one day.

“I grew up going to Mammoth, but when I came up here and hit 'THE WALL' at the top point of Kirkwood, everything changed,” said California State University, Stanislaus student Spencer Wernett. “Without a doubt Kirkwood is probably one of the nicest places to go skiing in the state.”

Kirkwood is currently open for the season. Lift tickets prices vary depending on the week.

When it comes to the ultimate experience in winter fun,  look no further than beautiful Lake Tahoe with over five top tier ski resorts known around the world for consistent snow and a guarantee good time.

“When I came to visit for the first time, I realized the hype was for real,” Wernett said of his first visit to Lake Tahoe. “I really wanted to go and ride down all the ski resorts there were so many. I had never seen this many.”

Two of the best all-around resorts include Heavenly, located in South Tahoe, and Northstar, which is located in the northern region in Truckee. Both resorts are consistently pampered with snow storms throughout the season.

Both resorts are currently open and lift tickets vary depending on the week.

In the past two seasons there has been a drought with very little snow, causing poor ski conditions. But this is the year the locals and others hope the beautiful white mornings will come.

“I really hope that this year the snow picks back up somehow since it has kind of sucked the last few years,” Rice said. “When there is little or no snow it makes for ice and also can create slush due to the high temperatures, so this year I am doing my rain dance, or in this case, snow dance.”