The 5 Best Ski Resorts Near Southern California

The 5 Best Ski Resorts Southern California - UPDATED 2020/21
Jack Lee
Written by Jack Lee / Photos by Jack Lee
Last updated August 12, 2020
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Winter is an exciting time to visit Southern California for its alpine region. The resorts here offer a unique ski experience and are local to those who live in the Southern California cities. Our local experts have picked the top 5 ski resorts for you.

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Known for

Top-notch terrain parks make it a hit with freestyle skiers and snowboarders

Highlights

  • Home to Southern California’s only Superpipe!
  • Take on the 2 mi Geronimo trail for a double black diamond leg burner
  • The lift pass covers you to ski at nearby Snow Summit too
  • Not the best mountain for traditional downhill skiers or families

Closest airports

Ontario Intl. Airport - 60 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Los Angeles Intl. Airport - 117 mi (2 hour drive)
Mellow terrain at Bear Mountain (Photo credit: Big Bear Mountain Resort)

If you want to ride park, Bear Mountain is the place. There's not a lot of steep terrain but the entire mountain is a terrain park and snowboarder-heavy. It’s also home to the only halfpipes and highest lift-served peak in Southern California. The only downside is that Bear Mountain’s terrain is not the best choice for traditional downhill skiers or families. Nevertheless, you can ski nearby Snow Summit on the same pass. It is also nearby Big Bear Lake and Big Bear City which offer an array of lodging, restaurants, and nightlife. The town of Big Bear Lake has a friendly alpine feel, with plenty of places to kick back for some low-key après ski relaxation.

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Known for

A family-friendly resort with plenty of cruisey blue runs, plus regular night skiing too

Highlights

  • Laidback terrain perfect for honing your skills
  • Extensive snowmaking operation keeps trails open
  • Excellent mountaintop eateries
  • Only 10% of trails are suitable for beginners

Closest airports

Ontario Intl. Airport - 60 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Los Angeles Intl. Airport - 119 mi (2.5 hour drive)
Whistler Blackcomb ski terrain
Cruise through the scenic national forest 

Located in the heart of San Bernardino National Forest, Snow Summit is a short, scenic drive from the cities in Southern California. The resort is extremely family-friendly and known as a groomer cruiser heaven. There’s a dedicated beginner’s area and the terrain is best suited for intermediates. Unlike its sister resort Bear Mountain, Snow Summit is more popular amongst skiers and less focused on terrain parks. Its extensive snowmaking allows for some of the most consistent snow in Southern California and its night skiing isn't too bad either.

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Known for

Offering three distinct ski areas for beginner, intermediate, and advanced skiers

Highlights

  • Variety of terrain caters well for groups of mixed ability skiers
  • Plenty of accommodation options in nearby Wrightwood
  • Kids will love the tubing and sledding at Yeti’s Snow Parks
  • Lacks really steep trails for expert skiers

Closest airports

Ontario Intl. Airport - 42 mi (45 minute drive)
Los Angeles Intl. Airport - 96 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Terrain for everyone at Mountain High (Photo credit: Mountain High Resort) 

Less than 2 hours drive from Los Angeles, Mountain High is one of the most visited resorts in South California. It is the ideal resort for groups of mixed abilities with three unique ski areas. North Resort for beginners, East Resort for intermediates, and West Resort for more advanced terrain. There’s also snow play activities for kids and stunning views of the Mojave Desert. The small mountain is often compared to Bear Mountain, however is less focused on terrain parks and is much more suitable for beginners and families. The only thing that might disappoint skiers here are the variable conditions due to lower snowmaking capacity.

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Known for

Huge size, long seasons, and all the amenities you’d expect from a high-end resort.

Highlights

  • One of the longest seasons in the US
  • Large area and terrain for all ability levels
  • Tons of snow
  • Far from major cities

Closest airports

Mammoth Yosemite Airport - 14 mi (25 minute drive)
Los Angeles Intl. Airport - 318 mi (5.5 hour drive)
Whistler Blackcomb ski terrain
Spectacular mountain ranges of Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Mountain is one of California’s biggest ski areas and has one of the longest seasons in North America. The modern resort is great for families of all ability levels as well as non-skiers who can enjoy a range of activities including tubing, snowmobiling, scenic gondola rides and snowcat tours. Other than the fact that holidays and powder weekends can bring a rush of crowds, Mammoth offers everything you could possibly want including a wide array of lodging and dining choices both at the base of the mountain as well as at Mammoth Lakes.

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Known for

Family-friendly with a dedicated beginner slopes and lifts

Highlights

  • Quiet slopes are great for learning
  • Family-friendly resort
  • Night skiing on weekends
  • Limited dining options on the slopes

Closest airports

Ontario Intl. Airport - 47 mi (1 hour drive)
Los Angeles Intl. Airport - 100 mi (2 hour drive)
Whistler Blackcomb ski terrain
You'll be up the mountain in no time!

Snow Valley in the San Bernardino National Forest, is a small family-friendly resort with a good mix of terrain. Since there is no lodging nearby, the resort doesn't see many crowds and makes for a great day trip if you’re coming from Los Angeles. It’s perfect for those who want to level up on quieter slopes. Conditions also tend to vary as it has a lower elevation than nearby Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. Nevertheless, this laid-back resort is great for those looking for a quick ski fix and even offers night skiing on Fridays and Saturdays.

The 5 Best Ski Resorts Southern California
Bear Mountain
Snow Summit
Mountain High
Mammoth Mountain
Snow Valley
Bear Mountain