Where there’s rain, somewhere there’s snow, including in the mountains near the Santa Clarita Valley.
With some of the first big winter storms of the season behind us, now is as good a time as any to get out to the mountains for some snow action.
“Outdoor recreation, including skiing and snowboarding, is an essential component to people’s physical and mental wellbeing,” said Justin Kanton, advertising and PR director for Big Bear Mountain Resort.
Whether aiming to go skiing or snowboarding or simply to sled and have snowball fights, there are plenty of options nearby.
Whether it’ll be your first time in the snow or you’re a seasoned pro, there are a few important COVID-19 changes to note this year.
As is common these days, guests are asked to practice social distancing and required to wear masks when indoors, as well as in lift lines, on lifts, in gondolas and on shuttles.
Ski resorts have also made some changes to prevent overcrowding, including limiting the sale of tickets to get on the mountain and restricting in-person ticket sales. That’s why it’s best to check each resort’s restrictions before heading up the mountain.
Mountain High, located in the Angeles National Forest, is one of the closest destinations to the SCV to offer skiing, snowboarding, tubing, snow play and scenic chair rides.
The resort’s snowmaking system covers 80% of the mountain, and they make snow most nights to create the best possible conditions.
Mountain High is about an hour away, located off Highway 2 in Wrightwood. For more information, visit mthigh.com or call 888-754-7878.
With a season that lasts more than half of the year and averages 400 plus inches of snow, Mammoth Mountain is the perfect destination.
It’s the highest summit elevation in California, with 3,500 skiable acres and plenty of other winter activities for those who prefer not to ski or snowboard, like tubing at Woolly’s Tube Park.
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 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).
Snow Valley, located in the San Bernardino National Forest, has plenty of options for some snow play, as well as two mountain areas for snowboarders and skiers.
“This has certainly been a very unique season, but thanks to the cooperation of our guests, we have been able to continue operations with our COVID operating guidelines in place,” added
Kevin Somes, vice president and general manager of the resort. “While the experience might seem a bit different, there is still plenty of fun to enjoy on the snow.”
The resort offers Southern California’s only chairlift serviced snow play and sledding area on weekends, with snow play still available on weekdays by walking up the hill.
Located adjacent to the base area sun deck, friends and family can watch participants while enjoying some food or a drink.
Snow Valley is about one hour and 45 minutes away, located off Highway 18 in Running Springs. For more information, visit snow-valley.com or call 909-867-2751.
Big Bear Mountain Resort (Bear Mountain / Snow Summit)
Big Bear Mountain Resort, also located in the San Bernardino National Forest, has two separate ski areas 3 miles apart — Bear Mountain and Snow Summit.
Be prepared to spend the day outdoors, as indoor operations have been eliminated at both resorts, while only those with a valid lift ticket can access either resort.
Snow Summit is known for being a family-friendly resort with its Grizzly Ridge Tube Park for those non-skiers or snowboarders, while Bear Mountain is recognized for its extensive terrain parks for varying ability levels with some of California’s only halfpipes.
With more than 100 inches of natural snowfall so far this season, in addition to snowmaking, both resorts expect more than two more months of activity this season.
Guests must book their tube park or lift tickets in advance to ensure availability, with discounts available for groups of 15 or more.
Both resorts 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).
Preparing for the snowy weather
- Wear appropriate clothing for the cold temps, including gloves or mittens and boots. Layers are key, as they can be added or removed as needed. Also, packing extra clothes can come in handy after some wet snow play.
- Make sure your car is ready for the ice with either chains or snow tires. Slow down when driving in the snow. Black ice patches can be difficult to see, and snow itself can reduce tire traction. Leave extra time to get where you need to be, as driving in snowy conditions means you will drive slower than normal.
- Plan your lift pass ahead of time, especially this year, as many resorts are limiting the amount of ticket sales due to COVID-19.
- Believe it or not, you can get a sunburn, even when it’s cloudy out, especially in higher altitudes, so bring sunscreen and lip balm.