Written by Jack Lee / Photos by Jack Lee Last updated April 19, 2021
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.
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 in Southern California. 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.
1. Bear Mountain
Top-notch terrain parks make it a hit with freestyle skiers and snowboarders
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
A family-friendly resort with plenty of cruisey blue runs, plus regular night skiing too
Laidback terrain perfect for honing your skills
Extensive snowmaking operation keeps trails open
Excellent mountaintop eateries
Only 10% of trails are suitable for beginners
Ontario Intl. Airport - 60 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Los Angeles Intl. Airport - 119 mi (2.5 hour drive)
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.
Huge size, long seasons, and all the amenities you’d expect from a high-end resort.
One of the longest seasons in the US
Large area and terrain for all ability levels
Tons of snow
Far from major cities
Mammoth Yosemite Airport - 14 mi (25 minute drive)
Reno-Tahoe Intl. Airport - 171 mi (3.5 hour drive)
Los Angeles Intl. Airport - 318 mi (5.5 hour drive)
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.
Family-friendly with a dedicated beginner slopes and lifts
Quiet slopes are great for learning
Night skiing on weekends
Limited dining options on the slopes
Ontario Intl. Airport - 47 mi (1 hour drive)
Los Angeles Intl. Airport - 100 mi (2 hour drive)
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.