California's climate is considered Mediterranean with relatively dry, warm summers and mild, temperate winters. While this is accurate for the majority of areas within California such as Los Angeles and San Diego, other areas such as San Francisco and the Sierra Nevada Mountain ranges experience different weather phenomena like fog and snow respectively. 

Does it snow in California? 

Surprisingly, it does snow in California in some regions. 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 a significant amount of snow come December thanks to the rainy season that starts in November. Due to low temperatures and a higher elevation, the rainfall experienced can then freeze into snow with the Sierra Nevada seeing roughly 300-500 inches of snow per year, and parts in Southern California enjoying around 60 inches. 

The snowiest months in both regions are January and February. 

The areas that experience snow in California

There are quite a few areas in California that 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 below: 

  • 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. 

Click to return to California FAQs

Our California Tours & Vacations

5 Days From 1895

Follow your feet on this 5-day walking tour that shows off the very best of Yosemite...

5 Days From 1003

Take a five-day road trip from Los Angeles to Vegas, stopping by Joshua Tree National...

6 Days From 863

Hit the road from Las Vegas to San Francisco on a six-day adventure, stopping by...

10 Days From 3371

From the famed LA streets to the glitz of the Vegas strip, travel through the hush of...

5 Days From 1634

Explore the Sierra Nevada Range on a 5-day small group hiking tour which includes...

Tailor-Made trips

Take four or more on an exclusive trip and tailor your itinerary

13 Days From 2120

Take an adventure through California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada past Joshua Tree, Grand...

8 Days From 2708

Drive, hike and explore your way through Nevada and California, hitting Yosemite...