Dodge Ridge, Tuolumne County prepare for coming winter!

Grandson Jack Taylor and author enjoy Jack's first chairlift ride at Dodge Ridge.

Skier enjoys deep powder in the Sonora Glades of Dodge Ridge Resort
Family enjoys a groomed run with spectacular view in Boulder Creek Canyon.
Kids pan for gold, including grandson Hunter Blomgren (center), at Columbia State Historic Park
The old roundhouse and turntable at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park
Engine #3 from the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park

Plan a trip to Dodge Ridge Ski Resort and Tuolumne County during ski season!

Last week’s storms brought serious rain to the San Joaquin Valley and carpeted the central Sierra with its first consequential snow. Hence, Dodge Ridge, the closest ski and snowboarding resort to San Joaquin County, is gearing up for another lively season. In addition, Tuolumne County, with so many additional attractions, is a fine destination for an extended visit.

As a 25 year member of the Dodge Ridge National Ski Patrol, I know this scenic part of the Sierra very well. My spouse and youngest daughter have skied there, and grandson Jack began his snowboarding experience at Dodge Ridge two seasons ago.

Dodge Ridge, almost 70 years old, has built its reputation as a family-friendly resort and marvelous destination to learn to ski. In more recent years, the addition of chairs 7 and 8 have opened up serious advanced and double black diamond runs, so the resort also offers serious skiing challenges throughout its 1600 vertical feet and 862 acres. Chair 8, dropping into north-facing Boulder Creek Canyon, offers spectacular views as well as intermediate to advanced runs in an area known for deep snows.

Dodge Ridge, where so many Sierra skiing families learned to ski, makes it a destination where you’re sure to run into friends who also learned here. The mountain focuses on its lesson programs, teaching youth from ages two and up. With two Magic Carpet lifts, a rope tow and a gentle chair 6 beginner’s lift, new skiers learn quickly.

Special packages including the Kids Club 5 Pack for ages 4-12, the Progression Pass, for level 1-3 skiers, ages 13 and up, the Summit Pass, ski and levels 4-6, for kids13 and up and Intro to Snow classes, offering one-on-one private lessons for kids as young as two years old. We’ve had grandson Jack in several lessons; he instantly took to the instructors, the Magic Carpet lifts and, late last season, managed a fun afternoon on gentle Chair 6.

Dodge Ridge’s skiable 862 acres extend far into the Sierra, to Chair 8 terrain with remarkable variety and stunning Sierra views into Boulder Creek Canyon. With 1,600 vertical feet serviced by 8 chairlifts, a T-bar, rope tow and two Magic Carpet lifts, Dodge Ridge has something to offer beginners all the way to adrenaline-fueled skiers and riders. A majority of the route along all-weather Hwy. 108 is below the snowline, which makes it one of the easiest ski commutes. Dodge Ridge is also one of the more affordable winter resorts, from some of the lowest-priced lesson programs to one of the best lift ticket deals available, only $68 for adult lift tickets (available at nearly 70 different Save Mart & Lucky’s Supermarkets).

If you enjoy cross country skiing or snowshoeing, Dodge Ridge rents gear for each and cross country trails fan out from the base area as well as several places along the Dodge Ridge access road. Pinecrest, just below, also offers cross country and snowshoeing opportunities along the snowy lakeshore.

What makes Dodge Ridge such a special winter destination are the additional family-friendly options nearby. The Tuolumne County seat, Sonora, offers shopping, fine restaurants and several history museums throughout its historic downtown area. Columbia State Historic Park is just a few miles north, offering one of the best preserved gold rush ghost towns. Lovely old towns like Jamestown, Twain Harte and Tuolumne City dot the nearby foothills, offering gold rush history, unique shopping and dining experiences. The Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, known as “the Movie Railroad”, offers huge locomotives, rail cars, seasonal steam train rides and roundhouse tours.

Favorite restaurants, starting at Pinecrest and working west along Hwy. 108, include Steam Donkey in Pinecrest, Mia‘s in Cold Springs, the Pie (great pizza) and Alicia‘s Sugar Shack (baked goods, breakfast and lunch) in Mi Wuk Village and the Rock in Twain Harte are all good options. The Service Station in Jamestown, with beer garden in back, and Standard Pour in Standard offers a unique brew pub in an historic building of the old Standard Lumber Company, featuring lots of TVs for sports and wonderful food.

For places to stay, check out Pinecrest Resort, Pinecrest Chalet, Long Barn Lodge with their covered ice rink and Christmas Tree Inn in Mi Wuk Village. If casinos are your thing, Black Oak Casino in Tuolumne City offers the casino experience, lodging and fine dining.

From San Joaquin County, Dodge Ridge is about 100 miles and two hours. Take Hwy. 4 east to Copperopolis, go south on O’Brynes Ferry Road, then east on Hwy. 108.

For more information, Dodge Ridge, dodgeridge.com, (209) 965-3474; for Tuolumne County visitor insights, visittuolumne.com, (800) 446-1333.

Read more from Tim Viall’s travel blog, follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter; or, email him at tviall@msn.com. Happy skiing in the Sierra!

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  • Blog Author

    Tim Viall

    Viall is a local travel writer who retired in 2012 after 10 years as executive director of Stockton, CA's, Emergency Food Bank and six years with the Downtown Stockton Alliance. Previously, a 21-year career in daily newspapers helped shape his ... Read Full
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