Skiing in L.A.? You might be surprised at how many ski resorts can be reached within just a couple hours’ drive from the City of Angels! With the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountain ranges nearby you can score plenty of fresh powder throughout winter, or even go the extra mile for deeper snow and bigger terrain in the Sierra Nevadas!
Due to COVID-19, safety measures were put in place by the State of California and its counties which impacted the 20/21 ski season for resorts near Los Angeles. California’s stay-at-home order in late December and January saw a ban on both indoor and outdoor restaurant dining, as well as the closure of many hotels. In San Bernardino County which is home to Big Bear Mountain Resort, face coverings were mandatory in most public areas. Such restrictions are not anticipated to continue into the 21/22 winter season.
If your usual day on the mountain involves boosting airs and sliding rails then Bear Mountain is the resort for you. A total of 14 terrain parks are spread out beneath the three peaks towering over the base area, and at 8,805 ft Bear Peak is the tallest. With only 15% of the terrain here falling into the beginner category you should look elsewhere if you’re a complete newbie. It’s also worth noting that Bear Mountain is a part of the Big Bear Mountain Resort, so when you buy a lift pass here you can also ski at neighboring Snow Summit. There are no shortages of lodging with everything from cozy cabins to hotels and endless dining options closer to Big Bear Lake.
Intermediates are sure to get the most out of Snow Summit with blues covering almost half the mountain, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to excite advanced skiers. You’ll find a few double black diamond chutes off the side of the wide groomed pistes, so drop in if you dare! It’s much smaller than its sister resort Bear Mountain but luckily you can ski both on the same ticket. For coffee or a smoked pork belly sandwich at 8,200 ft duck inside Hog on the Rocks, where you can also enjoy panoramic views over the San Bernardino Mountains.
Nestled within the Angeles National Forest you’ll find Mountain High, one of America’s oldest ski resorts. The first rope tow opened to the public here in 1937, and now it boasts 14 lifts that transport skiers up to a top elevation of 8,200 ft. The skiable terrain is divided between the North, East, and West Resort, each connected by shuttle bus. North Resort is home to the ski school, East Resort is where to find wide-open blues, while West Resort hosts steep blacks and freestyle features. Skiing after dark is also possible here thanks to floodlit slopes, plus the North Pole Tubing Park is great fun for everyone!
Although a long drive from L.A., Mammoth is truly an awesome all-round resort with everything you need for an epic mountain vacation. Whether your idea of fun is powder-filled bowls, pristine glades, gentle groomers, or even a 22-foot halfpipe, Mammoth Mountain has you covered! The Summit is one of the highest lift-served peaks in California at 11,053 ft, and down in the village there are accommodation options to suit every budget. Outside of skiing there is no shortage of activities from a tubing park, snowmobiling and snowcat tours. But with all this comes one disadvantage; the slopes can get very busy during the holidays and on a fresh powder weekend.
Just an hour from Los Angeles, Mt Baldy makes for an easy day trip. The resort isn’t large but what it lacks in size it makes up for in steep chutes and tight tree runs. More than half of the marked trails here fall into the advanced category and powder-filled backcountry is easily accessed from the top of Chair 4. A handful of blue and green trails do wind down from the two 8,600 ft peaks, but the lower half of the resort is all challenging black runs. If you find the snow is starting to get slushy in the afternoon stick to the terrain off of Chair 3 as these north-facing slopes stay good for longer.
Our top choice for a family-friendly ski resort close to L.A. is Snow Valley, particularly if you have little ones who are still learning to ski. The Children’s Learning Center specializes in teaching youngsters aged 4 to 12 years old, plus there’s a ski school providing lessons for adults too. And when it comes to trying out freestyle tricks, the Park Avenue terrain park is the perfect place to start. Even if you’re an accomplished skier Snow Valley is still well worth a visit, but bear in mind you may quickly cover the 240 ac of skiable terrain on offer. There’s no lodging here but you’ll be able to stay in nearby Running Springs or Arrowhead.
With just three chairlifts Mt Waterman can’t claim to be the biggest or best ski resort close to Los Angeles, but it might just be the most underrated. You can escape the crowds at larger resorts and really get the most out of a powder day by choosing this little gem. Ride the lifts up to 8,030 ft, drop into the Upper Bowl, and then carve down tree-lined trails all the way to the base area. And if you need to take a break, make sure it’s at The Warming Hut for a hot chocolate or whiskey next to the roaring open fire.