If you're looking for the best ski resorts in Southern California, you're in luck. The region is home to several ski resorts that offer a variety of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced rider, you're sure to find a resort that suits your needs.
One of the most popular ski resorts in Southern California is Big Bear Mountain Resort, located in the San Bernardino Mountains. The resort boasts two mountains, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain, which offer a combined total of 438 skiable acres and over 55 runs. Snow Summit is known for its wide-open runs and family-friendly atmosphere, while Bear Mountain is a favorite among freestyle skiers and snowboarders for its top-notch terrain parks. Both mountains are open daily for skiing and snowboarding during the winter season.
Another great option is Mountain High Resort, located in the San Gabriel Mountains. The resort offers three separate mountains, each with its own unique terrain. The East Resort is known for its challenging runs and stunning views of the Mojave Desert, while the West Resort offers a variety of terrain for all skill levels. The North Resort is perfect for beginners and families, with gentle slopes and a tubing park. All three mountains are accessible with one lift ticket, making it easy to explore everything the resort has to offer.
Ski Resorts in Southern California: Your Guide to the Best Slopes
Overview of Ski Resorts in Southern California
If you're looking for a winter getaway in Southern California, you're in luck! The region is home to several ski resorts that offer a variety of terrain, from beginner slopes to challenging runs for experts. In this section, we'll provide an overview of the ski resorts in Southern California, including the Big Bear region, Mountain High and surroundings, and other notable ski areas.
Big Bear Region
The Big Bear region is a popular destination for skiing in Southern California. It is home to two ski resorts: Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. Bear Mountain is known for its top-notch terrain parks, which make it a hit with freestyle skiers and snowboarders. Snow Summit, on the other hand, offers a variety of runs for all skill levels, including beginner slopes and challenging black diamond runs. Both resorts are located in the San Bernardino Mountains and offer stunning views of the surrounding area.
Mountain High and Surroundings
Mountain High is another popular ski resort in Southern California. It is located in the San Gabriel Mountains and offers three different areas to ski: East, West, and North. Each area has its own unique terrain and features, from beginner slopes to challenging black diamond runs. In addition to Mountain High, the surrounding area is home to several other ski resorts, including Snow Valley and Mt. Baldy. Snow Valley is a family-friendly resort that offers a variety of runs for all skill levels. Mt. Baldy is known for its challenging terrain and steep runs, making it a favorite among expert skiers.
Other Notable Ski Areas
In addition to the Big Bear region and Mountain High, there are several other notable ski areas in Southern California. These include:
- Mammoth Mountain: Located in the Eastern Sierra region, Mammoth Mountain is one of the largest ski resorts in California. It offers a variety of terrain, from beginner slopes to challenging black diamond runs.
- June Mountain: Also located in the Eastern Sierra region, June Mountain is a family-friendly resort that offers a variety of runs for all skill levels.
- Mt. Waterman: Located in the San Gabriel Mountains, Mt. Waterman is a small ski resort that offers challenging terrain for expert skiers.
No matter which ski resort you choose in Southern California, you're sure to have a great time on the slopes. So grab your skis or snowboard and hit the mountains!
Choosing the Right Resort
Southern California offers a variety of ski resorts catering to all ability levels, from beginners to advanced skiers. With so many options, it can be challenging to choose the right resort for your skill level and preferences.
Resorts for Beginners
If you are a beginner, you will want to choose a resort that has gentle slopes and a forgiving terrain. Snow Summit is a great option for beginners as it offers wide, gentle runs that are perfect for learning. Additionally, Snow Summit has a dedicated learning area, which is separate from the main slopes, allowing beginners to learn at their own pace.
Best Picks for Intermediate Skiers
If you are an intermediate skier, you will want a resort that has a good mix of groomed runs and more challenging terrain. Bear Mountain is an excellent choice for intermediate skiers as it offers a variety of terrain, including groomed runs, moguls, and tree skiing. Bear Mountain is also known for its terrain parks, which are perfect for those who want to try their hand at freestyle skiing or snowboarding.
Challenges for Advanced Skiers
If you are an advanced skier, you will want a resort that challenges you with steep runs, moguls, and off-piste terrain. Bear Mountain is also a great option for advanced skiers as it has a variety of black diamond runs, including the challenging Geronimo trail. Additionally, Bear Mountain has some of the best tree skiing in Southern California.
No matter your skill level, Southern California has a ski resort that is perfect for you. Take into consideration your skill level and preferences when choosing a resort, and you're sure to have a great time on the slopes.
Snow and Weather Conditions
Understanding Snowfall in SoCal
Southern California may not be known for its snowy winters, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy some great skiing. Snowfall in Southern California is typically light, with an average of 10-15 inches per year. However, with the help of snowmaking machines, many ski resorts in the area are able to provide plenty of fresh powder for skiers and snowboarders throughout the season.
Natural snowfall in Southern California usually occurs between December and March, with January and February being the peak months. However, it's important to keep in mind that snowfall can vary greatly from year to year, so it's always a good idea to check the current conditions before planning your trip.
Best Times for Skiing
The best time to hit the slopes in Southern California is typically from late December to early March. During this time, most ski resorts have plenty of natural snow and are able to make snow as well. Additionally, the weather during this time is usually cool enough to keep the snow from melting too quickly.
If you're looking to avoid crowds, midweek skiing is usually the way to go. Weekends and holidays tend to be much busier, so if you're able to take some time off during the week, you'll likely have a more enjoyable experience.
Overall, while Southern California may not be known for its snowy winters, the ski resorts in the area are able to provide plenty of great skiing and snowboarding opportunities. Just be sure to check the current conditions before planning your trip and keep in mind that the best time to hit the slopes is typically from late December to early March.
Activities and Amenities
When it comes to activities and amenities, Southern California ski resorts have something for everyone. Whether you're looking for family-friendly activities or heart-pumping terrain parks, there's no shortage of things to do.
If you're hitting the slopes with little ones, you'll be happy to know that many Southern California ski resorts offer snow play activities and tubing for the whole family. At Snow Summit, for example, you can enjoy a day of tubing down the mountain. Or, head to Big Bear Mountain Resort for their snow play area, which includes a magic carpet and a mini tubing hill.
Terrain Parks and Tubing
For those seeking a bit more excitement, Southern California ski resorts offer plenty of terrain parks and tubing options. Bear Mountain is known for its top-notch terrain parks and Southern California's only Superpipe! Take on the 2 mi Geronimo trail for a double black diamond leg burner. Mountain High also has a great terrain park, with over 80 features to choose from. And if you're looking for tubing, head to Snow Valley, which has the largest tubing park in Southern California.
Dining and Restaurants
After a long day on the slopes, you'll want to refuel with some delicious food. Luckily, Southern California ski resorts have plenty of dining options to choose from. At Snow Summit, you can enjoy a meal at their Skyline Taphouse, which offers stunning views of the mountain. Or, head to Big Bear Mountain Resort for a meal at their Slopeside Speakeasy. And at Mountain High, you can grab a bite at their Bullwheel Grill, which offers everything from burgers to salads.
Overall, Southern California ski resorts offer a wide range of activities and amenities for all ages and skill levels. Whether you're looking for family-friendly fun or heart-pumping thrills, you're sure to find it on the slopes.
Ski and Snowboard Lessons
If you're new to skiing or snowboarding, taking lessons is a great way to learn the basics and build your skills. Southern California ski resorts offer a variety of programs for all ages and skill levels, from beginner to advanced. In this section, we'll discuss the different types of lessons available and what you can expect from each.
Programs for All Ages
Most ski resorts in Southern California offer ski and snowboard lessons for all ages, including children, teens, and adults. Ski schools typically group students by age and skill level, so you'll be learning with people who are at a similar level to you. This can be helpful for building confidence and making new friends.
Children's programs often include games and activities to keep kids engaged and having fun while they learn. Some ski schools even offer daycare services for younger children, so parents can hit the slopes while their little ones are in good hands.
For teens and adults, ski schools offer a variety of group lesson options, from half-day to full-day sessions. Private lessons are also available for those who want one-on-one instruction. If you're interested in improving your skills quickly, consider a multi-day lesson package.
Private versus Group Lessons
Private lessons are a great option if you want personalized instruction and individual attention from an experienced instructor. You'll have the instructor's undivided attention, which can help you progress more quickly. Private lessons are also a good choice if you're nervous about skiing or snowboarding and want to build your confidence before joining a group.
Group lessons are a more affordable option and can be a fun way to meet new people and learn together. You'll be paired with other students who are at a similar skill level, so you can learn from each other's successes and mistakes. Group lessons are also a good choice if you're looking for a social experience and want to make new friends on the slopes.
No matter which type of lesson you choose, you can expect to start out on beginner terrain and gradually progress to more challenging runs as you build your skills. Your instructor will guide you every step of the way and help you overcome any challenges you may face.
In conclusion, taking ski or snowboard lessons is a great way to learn a new skill, build confidence, and have fun on the slopes. Whether you choose private or group lessons, there are programs available for all ages and skill levels at Southern California ski resorts.
Lodging and Accommodations
When planning your Southern California ski trip, finding the right lodging and accommodations is crucial. Luckily, there are plenty of options available to suit all budgets and preferences.
Staying in Big Bear Lake
Big Bear Lake is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders. It offers a wide range of lodging options, including hotels, motels, cabins, and vacation rentals. If you're looking for a cozy cabin or a spacious vacation rental, Big Bear Lake has plenty of options to choose from. Some popular options include Big Bear Cool Cabins, Destination Big Bear, and Big Bear Vacations.
For those looking for a more traditional hotel experience, there are plenty of options available as well. The Holiday Inn Resort The Lodge at Big Bear Lake offers comfortable rooms and a range of amenities, including an outdoor pool, hot tub, and fitness center. The Big Bear Frontier is another popular option, offering cozy rooms and cabins with lake views.
Options Near Mountain High
If you're planning on skiing at Mountain High, there are several lodging options available in the nearby town of Wrightwood. The Grizzly Manor Cafe & Cabins offers cozy cabins and a popular restaurant serving up hearty breakfasts and lunches. The Cedar Lodge is another popular option, offering clean and comfortable rooms at an affordable price.
No matter where you choose to stay, be sure to book your lodging in advance, especially during peak ski season. With the right accommodations, you can make the most of your Southern California ski trip and enjoy a comfortable and memorable stay.
Travel and Accessibility
Getting to the Resorts
Southern California is home to some of the best ski resorts in the country, and getting there is easier than you might think. If you're flying in, the closest major airports are Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Diego International Airport (SAN). From there, you can rent a car or take a shuttle to the resorts. Keep in mind that traffic in Southern California can be heavy, so plan accordingly.
Proximity to Major Cities
One of the great things about skiing in Southern California is that you don't have to travel far from major cities to hit the slopes. Big Bear Mountain Resort and Snow Summit are both located just a couple of hours from Los Angeles, making them a popular destination for weekend getaways. Mountain High is located even closer to the city, just an hour and a half away.
If you're coming from San Diego, you'll find that the resorts are a bit farther away. Big Bear Mountain Resort and Snow Summit are both about three hours away, while Mountain High is about two and a half hours away. However, the drive is scenic and well worth it once you arrive at the resorts.
No matter where you're coming from, you'll find that Southern California ski resorts are easily accessible and offer a great escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Equipment Rentals and Shops
When it comes to skiing in Southern California, having the right equipment is crucial. Luckily, there are plenty of options for equipment rentals and ski shops in the area. Here are some of the best places to rent or buy gear for your next ski trip.
If you're looking for convenience, on-site equipment rentals at the ski resorts are a great option. Big Bear Mountain Resort offers snowboard and ski rentals at their rental shop, located at 43101 Goldmine Drive in Big Bear Lake. The rental shop operating hours for each resort may differ depending on the specific date and are subject to potential changes. To obtain the most comprehensive and up-to-date information, please refer to the hours page. Mountain High also has one of the largest rental fleets in the region, meaning they have the skis and snowboards that are just right for you. It is important to arrive early when renting on weekends and holidays to save time. Equipment may be returned at the West Resort.
Local Ski Shops
For those who prefer to buy their own equipment or rent from a local shop, there are plenty of options as well. Phil's Ski & Snowboard in San Dimas has been a local favorite since 1984. They offer seasonal leases, daily rentals, demos, repairs, and the region's best gear sales and service. OC Snowsports in Irvine is Orange County's only full-service ski shop. They carry high-performance equipment and apparel as well as provide ski boot fitting, ski repair and tuning, and ski/snowboard rental services. They also offer everything you need for your skiing adventures.
No matter where you decide to rent or buy your equipment, make sure you get the right gear for your skill level and the conditions you'll be skiing in. Friendly staff at each of these locations can help you choose the right equipment and answer any questions you may have.
Après-Ski and Nightlife
After a long day of skiing, what better way to unwind than with some après-ski? Southern California ski resorts offer plenty of options for relaxing after the slopes.
Relaxing After the Slopes
At Big Bear Mountain Resort, you can wind down with some choice libations and “high-altitude Mediterranean” dining at Skyline Taphouse, or enjoy some comfort food and a beer at Slopeside Speakeasy. Mammoth Mountain also offers a variety of après-ski options, including live music at the Mill Cafe and drinks at the Yodler.
If you're looking for a more luxurious experience, head to the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe. The resort offers a cozy fireside lounge and a spa where you can indulge in a massage or facial.
Night Skiing Options
If you're not ready to call it a night after the sun goes down, consider night skiing. Snow Summit in Big Bear Lake offers night skiing on select dates, allowing you to enjoy the slopes under the stars.
Heavenly Mountain Resort in Lake Tahoe also offers night skiing on select dates, as well as a variety of après-ski options. The Tamarack Lodge at the top of the Gondola offers incredible views of Lake Tahoe, and an ideal setting to enjoy the afterglow of a day well spent on the mountain.
No matter which Southern California ski resort you choose, you're sure to find plenty of options for après-ski and nightlife. So grab a drink, relax, and enjoy the company of your fellow skiers and snowboarders.
Safety and Mountain Etiquette
When it comes to skiing or snowboarding, safety should always be your top priority. Ski resorts in Southern California take safety very seriously and have implemented measures to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience on the mountain. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Ski Patrol and First Aid
Ski Patrol is responsible for maintaining safety on the mountain. They are trained to respond to emergencies and provide first aid to injured skiers and snowboarders. If you or someone you are with gets injured, look for the nearest Ski Patrol station or call for help using the emergency phone located on the mountain. It's important to note that Ski Patrol is not a taxi service and should not be called to transport you or your equipment down the mountain unless it is an emergency.
Respect the Trails
Respecting the trails and other skiers or snowboarders is essential for everyone's safety. Always stay in control and be aware of your surroundings. Don't ski or snowboard too fast or too slow for the conditions and always yield to other skiers or snowboarders who are below you or in front of you. Also, be sure to follow the signs and markings on the trails to avoid getting lost or going out of bounds.
Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind:
- Wear a helmet to protect your head from injury.
- Dress appropriately for the weather to avoid hypothermia or frostbite.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
- Take breaks as needed to avoid fatigue or exhaustion.
- Always ski or snowboard with a buddy and keep an eye on each other.
- If you're a beginner, take lessons to learn proper technique and safety.
By following these safety guidelines and respecting the mountain, you can have a fun and safe experience at Southern California ski resorts.
Environmental Impact and Conservation
When it comes to skiing in Southern California, it's important to consider the environmental impact of your winter vacation. Fortunately, many ski resorts in the area are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and support local conservation efforts.
Eco-Friendly Skiing Practices
Ski resorts in Southern California are implementing eco-friendly practices to reduce their environmental impact. For example, many resorts are investing in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. Additionally, resorts are using more efficient snowmaking equipment to reduce water usage and energy consumption.
Another eco-friendly practice is responsible waste management. Resorts are implementing recycling programs and composting food waste to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. Some resorts are even using recycled materials to build and furnish their facilities.
Supporting Local Conservation Efforts
Ski resorts in Southern California are also supporting local conservation efforts. Many resorts are located near national forests such as the San Bernardino National Forest and the Angeles National Forest. These forests are home to a variety of wildlife and plant species, and it's important to protect them.
Resorts are partnering with local conservation organizations to support reforestation efforts and protect wildlife habitats. Some resorts are also donating a portion of their profits to these organizations to support their mission.
Overall, by choosing a ski resort that prioritizes eco-friendly practices and supports local conservation efforts, you can enjoy your winter vacation while also being a responsible and friendly traveler.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the top-rated ski resorts in Southern California?
Southern California has several ski resorts that are highly rated by skiers and snowboarders. Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort is one of the most popular ski resorts in the area, with 152 reviews and an average rating of 3.4 out of 5 on OnTheSnow.com. Other top-rated ski resorts in Southern California include Bear Mountain, Snow Summit, Mountain High, and Big Bear Mountain Resort.
Can you ski year-round at any resorts in Southern California?
While Southern California may not have the same winter conditions as other ski destinations, you can still ski year-round at some resorts. Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort is open from November to June, and sometimes even longer. Bear Mountain and Snow Summit typically open in November and close in April, but this can vary depending on weather conditions.
Which ski resort is closest to Los Angeles for a quick getaway?
If you're looking for a quick getaway from Los Angeles, Mountain High Ski Resort is the closest ski resort, located just 75 miles away. Big Bear Mountain Resort is also a popular choice for a weekend ski trip, located about 100 miles from Los Angeles.
How do the ski experiences at Snow Valley and Big Bear compare?
Snow Valley Ski Resort and Big Bear Mountain Resort both offer great skiing experiences, but they have some differences. Snow Valley is smaller and less crowded, making it a good choice for beginners or those looking for a more relaxed skiing experience. Big Bear Mountain Resort, on the other hand, has a larger ski area and more challenging terrain, making it a better choice for advanced skiers and snowboarders.
Are there any ski resorts near San Diego, and how far are they?
While there are no ski resorts in San Diego, there are some ski resorts within driving distance. The closest ski resort to San Diego is Snow Valley Ski Resort, which is about 2.5 hours away. Other nearby ski resorts include Big Bear Mountain Resort and Mountain High Ski Resort, which are both about 3 hours away.
What amenities can you expect at Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort?
Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort offers a wide range of amenities to make your skiing experience more enjoyable. The resort has several restaurants and bars, ski and snowboard rentals, and ski lessons for all levels. There are also several lodging options available, including hotels, condos, and vacation rentals. Additionally, the resort has several other activities, such as snowmobiling, ice skating, and tubing.