As temperatures begin to cool — even if only slightly — and the leaves start changing color, it’s clear the beginning of the snow season is upon us.
While it may seem as though winter is taking a bit longer to arrive this year, there are still a number of options nearby for those interested in going skiing and snowboarding or who simply want to sled and have some snowball fights.
For those of you looking to simply get a bit of time in the snowy mountains, Frazier Mountain is the perfect day trip getaway.
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 to play in the snow and make snow angels.
Frazier Mountain is about an hour away, located off Frazier Mountain Road near Frazier Park.
While on the smaller side of things as ski resorts go, Mt. Waterman, located in the nearby Angeles National Forest, is one of the closest ski resorts to the Santa Clarita Valley.
It relies entirely on natural snow, so its season usually starts in January, and can go until April.
Chairs 1 and 2 are ready to go, but Chair 3 is being repaired and is set to be running by next season, 2022-23, according to resort officials.
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 located about 60 miles away off Highway 2 in La Cañada Flintridge. For more information, visit mtwaterman.org or call 818-790-2002.
Also located in the Angeles National Forest, Mountain High offers skiing, snowboarding, tubing, snow play and scenic chair rides.
The resort is now open for the winter season, and while there might not be much natural snow on the mountain this early in the season, its 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.
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 and night skiing on certain days.
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.
Snow Valley has expanded its snowmaking system as it heads into its 84th season in the San Bernardino Mountains and hopes to open later this month as soon as conditions allow.
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.
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.
Each winter, both resorts often host a number of family-friendly events, such as live music performances, on-hill competitions and New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade, most of which are free to attend.
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).
With the highest summit elevation among California ski resorts, Mammoth Mountain averages 400 inches of snow each year and remains open more than half of the year.
Mammoth offers 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, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or even renting or taking 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).