Like most things this year, winter break is sure to look a bit different as COVID-19 remains at the forefront of everyone’s minds, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get out and enjoy some winter bliss.
With the closest snowfall less than an hour away from Santa Clarita, you can still grab your mask and head out for a day trip to the mountains.
Whether you’re planning on going to ski or snowboard or simply to sled and have a snowball fight, there are plenty of options nearby.
Whether it’ll be your first time in the snow or you’re a seasoned pro on a pair of skis, there are a few important COVID-19 changes to note this year.
As with other establishments, guests are asked to practice social distancing and are required to wear masks when indoors, as well as in lift lines, on lifts, in gondolas and on shuttles.
Due to the pandemic, this year ski resorts have made some changes to prevent overcrowding, including limiting the sale of tickets to get on the mountain.
Many resorts have closed their in-person ticket sale windows and instead are requiring guests purchase their lift tickets in advance, while others are restricting access to the resorts to only those with valid tickets.
That’s why it’s best to check each resort’s restrictions heading up the mountain.
For those of you looking to simply get a bit of time in the snowy mountains, Frazier Mountain is only a quick day trip away.
Located in the nearby Los Padres National Forest just off Interstate 5, this is the closest place to enjoy the snowfall.
This area has always been popular for families, with some good-sized hills to go sledding or tubing, or just play in the snow.
Frazier Mountain is about an hour away, located off Frazier Mountain Road near Frazier Park.
Open for more than 80 years, Mt. Waterman is located in the nearby Angeles National Forest, making it one of the closest ski resorts to the SCV.
The resort survived the Bobcat Fire, which burned for more than a month, devastating nearly 116,000 acres of the ANF, and is ready to celebrate the winter season — once it gets enough snow that is.
With only one winter storm so far this season and the resort relying entirely on natural snow, it has yet to get enough snow to open.
Though no sledding is allowed, the resort does offer scenic lift rides for those who don’t ski or snowboard.
There are no gas stations or gear rental on the mountain, so be prepared before heading up.
Mt Waterman is about 60 miles away, located off Highway 2 in La Cañada Flintridge. For more information, visit mtwaterman.org or call 818-790-2002.
Big Bear Mountain Resort (Bear Mountain / Snow Summit)
Big Bear Mountain Resort, located in the San Bernardino National Forest, has two separate ski areas 3 miles apart — Bear Mountain and Snow Summit.
This winter, both resorts require all guests to have a valid lift ticket, season pass or reservation to receive gated entry access to the base areas, meaning if you’re just spectating, you won’t be granted access.
Snow Summit is known for being a family-friendly resort with its Grizzly Ridge Tube Park, while Bear Mountain is recognized for its extensive terrain parks for varying ability levels with some of California’s only halfpipes.
Both resorts are currently open and are located about two hours away. Bear Mountain is located at 43101 Goldmine Drive in Big Bear, and Snow Summit is located at 880 Summit Blvd. For more information, visit bigbearmountainresort.com/winter or call 844-GO2BEAR (402-2327).
Mammoth Mountain has the highest summit elevation in California, which makes it no surprise that they’re snow season typically lasts more than half of the year and averages more than 400 inches of snow.
As with Big Bear, Mammoth is controlling resort visitation levels to avoid overcrowding by tightly regulating the number of daily lift tickets, which are available by advance purchase only.
Nevertheless, with a motto of “letting fun rule,” this resort not only offers 3,500 skiable acres,but also plenty of other winter activities for those who prefer not to ski or snowboard.
Catch a lift up the hill, then bomb down the mountain in a tube at Woolly’s Tube Park, or hit the snow play area. For the more adventurous type, you can also take a gondola up to the summit, then either do some cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, or even rent or take a guided tour on your choice of snowmobile or snowcat.
Mammoth Mountain is now open for the winter season and is located just over four hours away at 10001 Minaret Road in Mammoth. For more information, visit mammothmountain.com/winter or call 800-MAMMOTH (626-6684).