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52 weekend getaways: Ski and winter

Snowshoeing at Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort

Today, the sport of snowshoeing is enjoying a surge of popularity, marked by a 30% spike in snowshoe sales between 2005 and 2008, according to SnowSports Industries America, a nonprofit trade group representing snow sport businesses.

So, in the middle of a late-winter storm, I traveled to this 9,000-acre winter resort near Soda Springs to see why almost 6 million Americans take part in what seems like the most leisurely of snow sports.

-- Hugo Martín

Read more: Snowshoers find their path at Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort

Planning your trip:

Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays, closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays; daily passes $25, snowshoe rentals $21; (800) 500-3871, www.royalgorge.com.

 (Hugo Martin / Los Angeles Times )

Besides the new paint on its old lodge, the Badger Pass Ski Area in Yosemite National Park now boasts state-of-the-art chairlifts -- Eagle and Badger -- with truly smooth rides. All of this and more as Badger Pass chalks up its 75th year as a ski area operating entirely within a national park.

Colin Baldock, area manager for Badger Pass, calls it “the best little ski area in the USA.” Pressed to explain why, Baldock makes it clear he does not think he is exaggerating.

-- Dan Blackburn

Read more: Updates at Yosemite’s Badger Pass feel like fresh powder

Planning your trip:

All-day lift tickets cost $42 for adults, $37 for ages 13 to 17, and $20 for kids 12 and younger. Information on ski conditions, reservations, weather and road conditions is available at www.yosemitepark.com.

 (Kenny Karst / National Park Service)
A white curtain of snow obscured my view of a sparse pine forest and the towering mountains bordering Donner Memorial State Park. The temperature on that January morning had dropped below 30, and the forecast called for one of the biggest snowfalls in decades.

The prospects of nasty weather excited me. I strapped on my snowshoes in a snow-packed parking lot off Interstate 80, about 4 1/2 miles southwest of Truckee. I was prepared for anything. Blizzards. Avalanche. White-out conditions. Isn’t that the kind of thing that forges character and marks great adventures?

My destination was the Lost Trail Lodge, a hike-in lodge about four miles away, in a valley south of Donner Lake, bounded on three sides by Sierra Nevada peaks.

-- Hugo Martín

Read more: Lost Trail Lodge: the faint call of the wild

Planning your trip:

Lost Trail Lodge is a four-mile journey by snowshoes or cross-country skis from the Donner park gate near Donner Pass Road and Interstate 80. In the summer, guests can hike, mountain bike or take a four-wheel drive to the lodge. Address: 8600 Coldstream, Truckee, Calif. (Spencer Weiner)

Before the face-lift, Mammoth was known for its rustic charms. It was a hodgepodge of hotels, strip malls and mom-and-pop eateries, but that didn’t bother most of the skiers and snowboarders who came only for the mountain experience. Thanks to an average of 33 feet of snow and 300 days of sunshine each year, the experience was usually good.

The resort took a transformative step in 2008 when Mammoth Mountain teamed with Patina Restaurant Group in an effort to improve its culinary offerings. To make the slopes more convenient, Horizon Air began nonstop flights from Los Angeles International Airport to the Mammoth Yosemite Airport.

-- Hugo Martín

Read more: Mammoth Lakes is new and improved, but still affordable

Planning your trip:


 (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)