California ski resorts are limiting visitor numbers. No more walk-up tickets

Skiers and snowboarders at Mammoth Mountain.
Mammoth Mountain and other California resorts will limit the number of skiers and snowboarders on the slopes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Some California ski resorts are changing how they sell lift tickets this winter season. Resorts are abandoning sales of walk-up lift tickets to reduce the number of people on the mountain because of COVID-19. Skiers and snowboarders instead will have to buy single- and multi-day tickets in advance of their visit — and risk getting shut out on holiday and other high-demand dates.

Mammoth Mountain in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., plans to open Nov. 14 (weather and conditions permitting). It will not be selling walk-up or undated tickets this season. Each day, the number of tickets released will be “tightly regulated” to allow for social distancing, according to a statement.

Face coverings will be required indoors, at lift lines, on gondolas and on shuttles. Social distancing also is recommended when passing someone outside your immediate group. Also, the resort plans to open indoor dining at 50% capacity and to increase outdoor eating options.


In the Tahoe area, Sugar Bowl sold out of passes for 2020-21 last week. “Although an uncrowded experience has been part of the Sugar Bowl brand ethos for decades, in this pandemic climate we must be especially careful not to overwhelm the resort by overselling it,” John Slaughter, executive director for marketing, said in a statement. It will sell a limited number of daily tickets, only online and only in advance. Its sister resort for cross-country skiers, Royal Gorge, will continue to sell passes and tickets.

Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows hopes to open Nov. 25. The resort also has done away with walk-up ticket sales and put all ticket sales online. How can you get a same-day ticket? You may get lucky and find one online. Otherwise, you’ll have to pick another date.

The resort’s website said it would sell few early-season tickets because less terrain may be open for skiers and boarders to spread out. Also, it plans to honor last season’s Tahoe Super 4 Packs and Spring Ticket Trio passes with unredeemed dates because the resort closed early. People with tickets from the 2019-20 season can exchange them for this season’s tickets (email or call (800) 403-0106 for exchanges). Also, be aware of these pandemic rules. “Face coverings are required indoors,” the website says. “Face coverings are required outdoors where physical distance cannot be ensured.”

Homewood Mountain Resort is selling 25% fewer passes this year. Last week, the resort said it had less than 100 passes left. Lift tickets must be bought in advance online; groups are limited to 10 people or fewer. Guests who bought lift tickets as well as lessons and rentals before the resort closed March 9 can roll over their tickets to the current season or request a credit. Also, some of last season’s pass holders may be eligible for a resort credit. Fill out a form on the website to see if you quality.

Closer to home, Mountain High resort near Wrightwood said on its website that tickets, lessons and rentals will need to be purchased online, sometimes requiring 48 hours beforehand. “Even if you are interested in purchasing a lift ticket to ski the same day, you will need to make the purchase online or through our call center and then come to the ticket window to pick it up,” the website said.