By Michele E. Buttelman
If the recent 80-degree holiday weather made you long for cooler winter family fun, it’s time to plan a trip to one of many California mountain destinations.
Before heading off into the mountains make sure your vehicle is equipped with tire chains and you’ve checked the road conditions. Make sure your tires are not worn and have the proper tire pressure.
Because Mother Nature can be fickle, be sure to check your destination before heading off in search of winter adventure. Snow can melt, even at higher elevations, if the winter weather conditions change.
Mammoth Mountain Snowcat Tours
Reservations (800) 626-6684
Take a ride in a snowcat for one of the most unique excursions in the Eastern Sierra. Visit one of Mammoth’s most scenic spots, Minaret Vista, where you’ll see unparalleled views of Mammoth Lakes’ signature skyline and take in the spectacular views of Mammoth Mountain, the Minarets, Ritter Range and beyond.
Snowcat tours are operated by Mammoth Mountain and offer visitors the chance to experience the backcountry from the heated comfort of a luxury snowcat. Each snowcat holds up to 12 people.
Mammoth Mountain offers two times for tours on the weekends Friday-Sunday. Reservations are required 24 hours in advance for Mammoth Mountain snowcat tours. All tours are approximately two hours.
Choose from a Mid-Day Tour at 11:30 a.m. or an Aprés Tour at 3 p.m. Child tickets are available for ages 12 and under.
In addition to the views, you’ll also be treated to a light meal.
Snowdrift Snow Tubing Park
34600 State Highway 18
Running Springs, CA 92386
Four miles east of the town of Running Springs
Snowdrift Snow Tubing Park is an outdoor family recreation attraction located in the San Bernardino National Forest and listed in the AAA tour guide as a Southern California Recreational area. Snowdrift is Southern California’s largest and oldest snow tubing park.
The park touts itself as being a place where families and people of all ages can enjoy clean mountain air and have a great time.
Snowdrift offers snowy slopes for downhill rides on individual snow tubes that are specially designed with a belly strap and handles. Beginner, intermediate and advanced slopes are available. At 6,500 feet above sea level, it’s a great place to enjoy a day of clean, crisp mountain air.
Admission is $20 per person per hour, cash only.
The $20 entry fee includes the use of a snow tube.
Children 36″ tall or under are free if accompanied by a paid adult
Parking costs $10 per vehicle.
In season operating hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday and Holidays 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Snowdrift opened for the season on Dec. 16. Check social media or call to make sure Snowdrift is open before you go.
Yeti’s Snow Play at Mountain High
Wrightwood, CA 92397
Make it a “Snow Day” at the Yeti’s Snow Play located at Mountain High in Wrightwood. Slide down the tubing lanes, meet the Yeti and his friends, or have lunch at the Grand View Lodge located at an elevation of 8,200 feet.
Open daily through Jan. 8. After Jan. 8 Yeti’s will be open weekends and holidays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
With up to 12 different lanes, two moving carpets and custom tubes, Yeti’s Snow Play is the largest park of its kind in Southern California and offers an easy day of fun in the snow.
Yeti’s Snow Play offers tubing, sledding, snow play and scenic sky chair rides.
Remember to dress warmly, bring your gloves and appropriate shoes. Parking is $20.
Children should be at least 36 inches tall.
All Day Tubing, Sledding, Snow Play and one Scenic Sky Chair Ride: $79.
All Day Tubing, Sledding and Snow Play, (no Scenic Sky Chair Ride): $59.
Scenic Sky Chair Ride only: $35. Open to guests 36″ or taller.
Snow Play only: $30 Open to guests 32″ or shorter. Tickets only available at the door.
Reserve your tickets in advance. Tickets are $10 more at the ticket windows.
Mammoth Snowshoeing, Cross-Country Skiing
163 Twin Lakes Road,
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
Trail and Snow Report Hotline: (760) 934-5293 ext. 5
Set out for an all-ages scenic family adventure and explore the Mammoth Lakes Basin on cross-country skis or snowshoes across 19-plus miles of secluded, groomed world-class trails. Rentals, lessons, guided tours and season passes are available from the Tamarack Cross-Country Ski Center, located at Tamarack Lodge.
Explore all the miles of groomed cross-country and snowshoe trails, plus the free Public Access Trail that runs along Lake Mary Road. Be sure to check the trail status and conditions before heading out on your adventure.
All ages can enjoy Yosemite National Park’s snowshoe trails. During the winter months, snowshoeing is an absolute highlight of any trip to Yosemite National Park. Strap on a pair of high-tech snowshoes, rentals are available for modest all-day or half-day fees, and start making big tracks up and down the marked trails of Badger Ski Pass with your family.
A great way to snowshoe Yosemite is to join a guided tour.
Any families with younger children are welcome to book a private snowshoe hike by calling the Nordic Center at (209) 372-4996 or the Mountaineering School at (209) 372-8344 or emailing [email protected].
On the Adventure Snowshoe Hike to Dewey Point with the Yosemite Mountaineering School & Guide Service, your guide will lead you through some of the most breathtaking scenery Yosemite has to offer, with views that include El Capitan, Half Dome and the Clark Range.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the park on a night when conditions permit, the Full-Moon Snowshoe Hike is particularly popular and a favorite for amateur photographers.