Mount Shasta is a massive peak in the Cascades Mountain range that reaches 14,000 feet tall. Because of its height, the mountain is snow-capped year-round.
The mountain and surrounding area offer some of the most picturesque views in California — an impressive feat, considering the state’s vast natural beauty. But while this area is chalked full of amazing things to do, when is the best time to visit Mount Shasta? Here’s our take.
The Best Time to Visit Mount Shasta
The best time to visit Mount Shasta depends on what you want to do. Hikers and campers will want to visit at different times than skiers and wintertime sports enjoyers.
If you want to head to Mount Shasta to swim in lakes, hike, and camp, the best time to visit is between June and September, depending on how high into the mountains you intend to go.
Lower altitudes can be very hot in the summer with temperatures reaching the high 80s, particularly July and August, so June and September — which are a little cooler in the 70s — are better for those that want to enjoy the summer weather in the foothills.
However, temperatures can drop as you rise in elevation. If you are planning on heading far up the mountain (especially if you’re going to camp overnight), you should stick to July and August, which will have much more comfortable temperatures.
Winter near Mount Shasta is long and snowy, so those that want to participate in winter sports have a larger window of ideal weather for travel. Slopes usually open up mid-December and stay open until at least march.
For perfect skiing conditions, head to Mount Shasta between late December and late February.
Winter travelers can avoid crowds and high costs by visiting in late January and February, which is when most crowds dwindle out (between Christmas break and spring break for most kids).
Cheapest Time to Visit Mount Shasta
The cheapest time to visit Mount Shasta is late January through February. Winter, in general, is less busy than summer, but families rarely have time off in January and February to make the trek up the mountain, bringing prices down.
Some families in Sacramento and San Francisco travel up the mountain on weekends, so weekdays are often cheaper as well. If you plan to fly into the area, the closest airports are Weed, CA, Redding, CA, and Medford, OR.
All three cities are relatively small, so tickets may be more expensive. The cheapest dates to fly are in February for all three airports, and weekdays tend to be less expensive than weekends.
If you really want to save money, you could fly into Sacramento or San Francisco, but this will add four or five hours to your travel time, respectively.
Least Busy Time to Visit Mount Shasta
The least busy time to visit Mount Shasta is during the first two months of the year, which is ideal if you enjoy winter sports.
Most families travel to the area when their children have off in December and early January or March for spring break. You will find that you have much more space if you can visit the sweet spot in between these popular vacation times.
If you want to head to Mount Shasta for a warmer vacation but still want to save money, May and November (when temperatures are in the 60s during the day but below freezing at night) are not as busy as other months.
You will find that they are empty for a reason, however; cold weather and wet conditions make most outdoor experiences difficult in late fall and early spring.
Worst Time to Visit Mount Shasta
The worst time to Visit Mount Shasta depends on your preferences, but most people avoid mid to late April and November.
Temperatures in In April begin to consistently reach above freezing, and the ski parks usually shut down as snow begins to melt, limiting the number of activities available to tourists.
As the snow melts and the spring rains kick in, the mountains become a muddy mess, making it nearly impossible to hike or camp. If the water of spring weren’t bad enough, nights could still freeze over, meaning that the roads become extraordinarily icy and dangerous.
November has similar problems to April. Ski parks have not opened for the season because they don’t have enough snow, and the weather has become too cold to hike or camp.
To make matters worse, Thanksgiving makes travel miserable (it’s the single busiest day of the year for airports) and expensive.
If you decide to brave the conditions and head up to Mount Shasta anyway, you’ll be met without much to do. Many trails and campsites shut down, and resorts have little to offer travelers.
Things to Consider
If you’re planning a trip to Mount Shasta and the surrounding area, you should be fully prepared to make the most of your trip.
Following these tips will help ensure that you make your trip the best it can be:
- Mount Shasta is a large peak in the Cascades. Because of its height, travel up the mountain requires serious mountain driving. If you’re unaccustomed to mountain driving- especially in the winter- use caution as you travel, and don’t drive during winter storms.
- If you’re planning a ski trip into the area, try to book for the middle of winter. Conditions can be unpredictable early and late in the season, and you don’t want to get stuck in a ski resort when most lifts and runs are closed.
- Avalanches, rockfalls, wildfires, and other hazards can change mountain road conditions anytime. Before you begin your trek up to Mount Shasta, check the roads you intend to travel to ensure that everything is open and safe.
- The mountains of California are well-traveled, but dangerous wildlife is still abundant. Use caution to protect yourself from bears, coyotes, wolves, and other predators.
Frequently Asked Questions
These are the questions asked most often by people planning trips to Mount Shasta:
What is a good time to visit Mount Shasta?
If you want to ski and enjoy Mount Shasta’s winter activities, late January and February are the perfect times to visit. If you want to enjoy the region’s summer activities, you should plan your trip between June and September.
Is Mt. Shasta worth seeing?
Mt. Shasta is a historically significant location for the Native American population and one of the most beautiful places in California. It has waterfalls, hiking, skiing, and camping opportunities that definitely make it worth seeing.
Where is the best place to view Mt. Shasta?
Some of the best views of Mount Shasta can be seen along Highway 97. If you want to view the mountain from outside your car or sit and enjoy the view, Lake Siskiyou and Heart Lake are excellent vantage points for Mt. Shasta.
Is there always snow on Mt. Shasta?
Yes, Mt. Shasta has a high elevation, and there is always snow on top, though it melts in the spring- usually around April- at lower altitudes.
What is Shasta famous for?
Mount Shasta is famous for its many natural beauties and many activities, but it is also an important symbol to the Native Americans in the area. The Wintu tribe believes that it is the origin of their people, while other tribes believe it is the sacred center of the universe.
Can I drive through Mt. Shasta?
The highest you can go on Mt. Shasta by driving is the Everitt Memorial Highway, which ends at the tree line, around 8,000 feet in elevation. If you want to visit the tallest part of the mountain, you will need to hire a helicopter or plane.
Does Mount Shasta have hot springs?
Yes, the foothills of Mount Shasta have Stewart Mineral Hot Springs. Stewart Mineral Hot Springs offer private hot spring accommodations, including private soaking and healing sessions, and are a popular destination for many travelers to the area.
Are there grizzly bears in Mt. Shasta?
There used to be grizzly bears in the Mount Shasta area, but human development, hunting, and other effects on their natural ecosystem have largely driven them out. Though less dangerous, you should still watch out for black bears that roam the area and bobcats, mountain lions, and other dangerous wildlife.
What is the closest major city to Mount Shasta?
Mount Shasta is in a very rural area, and the nearest town is Weed, California, with a population of under 3,000. Many visitors stay in Redding, which is only an hour away. The nearest major city is Reno, Nevada, which is at least a three-and-a-half-hour drive, depending on road conditions.
Is Mount Shasta near Lake Tahoe?
No, Mount Shasta is not near Lake Tahoe. Driving from one to the other will cover 250 miles and take at least four and a half hours. It can take even longer when winter conditions affect the mountain roads.
Do I need a Pass for Mount Shasta?
Whether or not you need a pass depends on where you want to go. If you plan to ski, you will need a ski pass, and if you’re going to explore a state park, you will need a Park Pass. Check with the location where you want to go about passes and pricing for your travel dates.
So, When Should You Visit Mount Shasta?
Mount Shasta is an increasingly popular destination for vacationers from around the world. Wintertime is a skiing and snowboarding paradise, while summer is perfect for camping and hiking.
No matter what time of year you decide to head up to this iconic destination, you’ll be stunned by the beautiful views and want to return as soon as possible. So what are you waiting for — book your trip today!