Does it snow in California?

Surprisingly, it does snow in California in some regions with the snowiest months being January and February. While Californian weather has a reputation of being always sunny and never too cold, different regions such as the Sierra Nevada Mountain Ranges and Big Bear Lake experience a 'snow season' in winter. These regions enjoy significant snow in December thanks to the rainy season starting in November. Due to low temperatures and a higher elevation, the rainfall experienced can freeze into snow with the Sierra Nevada seeing roughly 300-500 inches of snow per year, and parts of Southern California enjoying around 60 inches. 

Snowy areas in California

Many areas in California enjoy snow during the winter, both in the Northern and Southern parts of the state. In these regions, especially in Northern California, you can undertake snow activities such as skiing, snowboarding, and tobogganing.

The most popular Californian cities that experience snow in winter are: 

  • Big Bear Lake 

  • Lake Arrowhead 

  • Frazier Park 

  • Mammoth Mountain 

  • Yosemite National Park 

  • Lake Tahoe 

What to pack for winter in California

What to pack for winter in California largely depends on where in the state you're travelling to. In cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, the weather is still reasonably warm and comfortable so packing clothing items such as t-shirts, dresses, jeans, and shirts are acceptable. You should still pack sweaters and cardigans though as the temperature can drop in the evenings. 

If you're travelling to areas in California that receive a lot of snow then the appropriate snow clothing is required. This can include snowsuits, heavy-duty and waterproof pants and tops, as well as waterproof jackets, coats, thick socks, gloves, and beanies. You should also pack appropriate wet-weather footwear such as boots or waterproof walking shoes. 

Still have questions about California? Return to California FAQs

Read more about the United States