When people think of action sports and Los Angeles, they usually think of surfing at Venice Beach or climbing at Malibu Creek. Sometimes we forget that the city is surrounded by mountains, that come with skiing, snowboarding, and sledding to enjoy. From the frattiest of frat bros to the wholesome family of four, everyone can take part in L.A.’s winter sports. And the best thing is, the closest snow is less than a couple hours away!
If you’re looking for a week-long skiing or snowboarding vacation, there’s no question that bigger locations like Mammoth or Tahoe offer bigger locations and more attractions. But if you’re looking for good conditions or trying out skiing or snowboarding for the first time, there are a number of resorts around Los Angeles that will definitely do the trick.
Even though our resorts aren’t as big as the ones up north, our sun is way brighter and our people know how to party! Here’s the complete guide to skiing and snowboarding within a three hour drive from Los Angeles. Cheers to the only place where you can get shacked and shred the gnar all on the same day – cause we’re badass like that)!
SnapShot: 2 hours from LA, 38 runs, 2 terrain parks
Grrrrrrrrrr baby! Bear Mountain Resort is about 2 hours east of Los Angeles and it’s more popular for snowboarding because of its multiple terrain parks. As you can see from the image above, Bear Mountain draws a young, fun crowd that isn’t afraid of a little snow burn. Big Bear Lake is also home to Snow Summit, which is coming up next on the list. Both resorts, along with Mammoth and June Mountain up north are owned by Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. The organization has a Cali4nia Pass that lets you ski and snowboard at all the resorts.
SnapShot: 2 hours from LA, 31 runs, 2 terrain parks
Snow Summit? No, I want Snow All-it! Snow Summit is the slightly smaller sister of Bear Mountain. It’s more popular with skiers than snowboarders because of its long runs and fewer terrain features. Snow Summit is also one of the most family-friendly resorts in the area, with a “Family Park” on the west side of the resort. This is a great place for beginners and kids to learn how to ski.
There is snow-making on all of their runs, which allows Snow Summit to have more open days than areas without snow machines. It usually gets more crowded than Bear Mountain, but the lifts are spread out and the park has great crowd management. You won’t have to expect to wait in long lines here folks! And with Snow Summit’s nighttime skiing on weekends and holidays, that’s good news!
Lift tickets are good for Snow Summit and Bear Mountain and there’s a free shuttle between the parks. You can expect a significant discount when you order online at least 48 hours in advance. PLUS FREE LIFT TICKET ON YOUR BIRTHDAY AT BOTH PARKS! I wish I wasn’t born in June…
SnapShot: 1 ½ hours from LA, 59 runs, 1 terrain parks
Like, bro… I’m so totally Mountain High right now. Mountain High is in the San Gabriel Mountains, which is really close to Los Angeles. It’s actually three different resorts about a mile apart known as West Resort, East Resort, and North Resort (someone got lazy with their naming duties). The lift ticket is good for all three and there’s a free shuttle that will take you between them.
There are only snow-making machines on 80% of their runs so you’ll want to check their trail status before you head up. Right now, there are only 23 tails open (as of January 5). Each of the Mountain High resorts has different terrain, atmosphere and hours, so I’ll list those for you here:
West Resort: 34 trails, 8 lifts, snowboarders, young crowd, night skiing 5 nights/week
East Resort: 16 trails, Longest trails, best views, access to Grand View Bistro
North Resort: 10 trails, 1 lift, beginners and families, skiers, tubing park, Friday-Sunday hours
SnapShot: 1 hour & 15 minutes from LA, 26 runs, 1 terrain parks
Because not everyone was blessed with good hair genes. Mount Baldy is the closest skiing and snowboarding area to Los Angeles beaches, in case you were wondering. This park offers 4 outdated lifts and its advanced and expert runs make Mount Baldy a place for beginners to steer clear of.
There’s a big problem with crowds because the only way back down to the parking lot is on the old 2-person lift, and everyone usually wants to get off the mountain at the same time. Skiers dominate Mount Baldy but advanced snowboarders can also get a good day in. Not to mention, it’s a great place to do some climbing!
Snow Valley Mountain
SnapShot: 1 ½ hours from LA, Open, 6 terrain parks
Valley? Mountain? Are we having an identity crisis? Snow Valley Mountain is about 1000 feet lower in elevation than Bear Mountain, which means it doesn’t get as much snow. It only has snow-making machines available on half of their trails. This resort has a pretty solid combo of technical and beginner trails that makes it popular for families and groups ranging in skill level. There are special afternoon-evening lift tickets available and night sessions on Fridays and Saturdays.
It’s generally less crowded than the Big Bear resorts because there’s nowhere to stay and essentially nothing else to do besides ski and snowboard. So plan to drive home or up to Big Bear after you’re frickin exhausted. My advice would be to bring your intern, pledge or red-headed stepchild and give them the drive home duties (DISCLAIMER: StokeShare does not condone hazing of any form).
Well, there you have it folks. You just found out how close 5 mountains are to the heart of Los Angeles. Now you’re ready to grab your girl, your guy, your family or friends and head up for some action-packed thrills in the snow!
Where’s your favorite spot to shred? Let me know in the comments below and visit StokeShare to connect with an awesome community of powder junkies!