Resorts in Southern California: Driving Your Way to A Different Kind of ParadiseIf anyone thinks that California is only popular for its beaches, you are in for another surprise. In fact, that is not everything Southern California has to offer. For those fond of skiing and snowboarding, the ski resorts in Southern California offer the ultimate skiing adventure. The experience of snowboarding and skiing in Southern California offers travelers a different kind of natural beauty. Thinking of skiing in Europe? Why not plan first a skiing trip in North America? Try checking out Southern California. Here are some resorts for consideration:
1. Mammoth Mountain
Mammoth Mountain is, just as the name suggests, mammoth! One of the best ski resorts in Southern California, it boasts with the highest pinnacle elevation that one can find in the whole state. It’s no wonder that adventurous skiers prefer to ski from the slopes of Mammoth Mountain.
The top elevation of Mammoth Mountain measures 11,053 ft. with an impressive vertical drop of 3,100 ft. and a total of 151 trails and 28 lifts. This resort offers a terrain suite for all skier and snowboarder levels.
Your skiing in Southern California adventure will not be the same if you don’t plan a trip to Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort. It is situated approximately 330 miles from San Francisco and about 310 miles from Los Angeles.
Terrain Parks at Mammoth MountainMammoth Mountain Ski Resort has an efficient lift system in their parks that allows skiers to easily travel. With their 3 High-Speed Quads and 2 Gondolas, certainly, skiers have no difficulty going from one trail to the other.
Terrain for Beginner Skiers
Although Mammoth Mountain is a favorite among expert and professional riders, beginners will not have to worry about what they can do at the resort. Offering a 25% terrain with plenty of green runs, beginners and first-time skiers alike can explore and enjoy the terrain park.
Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort’s Disco Wonderland and Eagle Playgrounds are the places where beginners and first-time skiers should start their skiing experience from. The park offers plenty of rollers, small jumps, and boxes to help beginners learn the basics of skiing.
Terrain for Intermediate Skiers
Boasting a 40% terrain perfect for the intermediate level skiers, Roller Coaster may be the ideal option to build up their confidence and skiing level.
This run has some easy mogul, which allows intermediate skiers to work on and enhance their skills. With practice and determination, they will be ready to work their way toward the expert slopes.
Terrain for Expert Skiers
Those expert skiers wanting to push their limits and experience the ultimate thrill of skiing should go to Mammoth Mountain’s Main Park. This is a paradise land for the advanced and expert wanting to go off-piste skiing.
With some of the largest jumps and technical jibs, the terrain of this park is a must-visit for experts. The fluffy powder snow is ideal for skiers to freestyle or just try off-piste. To reach the Main Park, the resort offers its Chair 6 (Unbound Express) where guests can get direct access to the resort.
The Hemlocks is another one of the expert terrain parks at Mammoth Mountain. It is the perfect spot for expert skiers to go skiing in deep powder amidst the challenging gladed terrain with steep bowls, chutes, and cliff drops.
Crowded Due to Its Popularity
The thrill of skiing in Southern California is incomparable. However, there are some drawbacks to choosing Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort.
Due to the popularity of the resort, there is a lot of crowd on powder weekends and holidays. Skiers and adventurers find this resort a place of excitement and thrill.
In addition, compared to other resorts, Mammoth Mountain is an expensive place to go skiing. The resort is located somewhat out of the way, so some people also find it difficult to reach it.
Weather at Mammoth Mountain
Receiving about an average of 400 inches of snowfall annually, this resort has the longest skiing season as compared to other ski resorts in Southern California. Pertaining to the weather, the skiing season sometimes lasts into the months of July and August.
Accommodation at Mammoth Mountain
Mammoth offers a variety of hotel, inn and lodging deals, staying true to its claim as one of the best ski resorts in Southern California. Some of the options include The Village Lodge, The Western Monache Resort, and the Juniper Springs Resort, among others.
Dining at Mammoth Mountain
Whether one is looking for a quick bite on the mountain, fine dining or drink, and food specials, one could find their perfect option to fuel their adventure.
Mammoth’s coolest hotspot is the 53 Kitchen & Cocktails. For an intimate dining experience, try The Lakefront Restaurant. The Daily Grind is a coffee and snack shop inside Juniper Springs Resort.
2. Bear Mountain
The Bear Mountain at San Bernardino Mountains is a 200-acre playground where snowboarders and skiers can have the best time of their life. The resort offers a total of 165 rails, walls, and boxes for all types of skiers. Whether they are beginners or advanced skiers, this resort caters to all.
The four peaks of Bear Mountain feature a mixture of ungroomed terrain and packed powder for skiers and riders wanting to experience a true backcountry adventure.
Silver Mountain comprises of three advanced runs expert skiers can choose from. It also gives access to Deer and Goldmine canyons. The steepest, highest, and most challenging peak is Bear Peak.
When skiing in Southern California, Bear Mountain is among the top choices of skiers. Bear Mountain’s Skill Builder Parks is where the freestyle skiers who have beginner skills can ski to their heart’s content.
Consequently, if skiers need to shop for snowboarding and skiing gear, they can purchase at Bear Mountain’s Ice Box shop.
Bear Mountain offers 2 high-speed quads, 1 quad chair, 2 triple chairs, 3 double chairs, and 4 surface lifts, making it a total of 12 lifts. This allows skiers and snowboarders to access the terrain without having to wait in long lines.
Terrain for Intermediate Level Skiers
Encompassing 56% of the area, this terrain for intermediate skiers offers an advantage, since it is the biggest section in the resort. The entire terrain comprises of gentle and long groomers, and powder lines that suit the ability of intermediate skiers.
Terrain for Beginner Level Skiers
The Skill Builder Park at Bear Mountain caters to beginners who are looking to improve their skiing level. The park is full of boxes and rails so first-timers can get the fundamentals of skiing. The rails are small and less intimidating, which makes it the perfect terrain for them.
Terrain for Expert Level Skiers
While expert skiers only have access to 7% terrain, the challenging slopes and pistes make up for the less terrain. The technical trails, sharp curves, and steep slopes along the deep powder give them the thrill of skiing they are looking for.
Most noteworthy to mention is that Big Bear Mountain Resort does not own or operate any lodging properties. However, it does not mean that the resort is lacking. From cozy cabins to budget-friendly motels and spacious vacation rentals, to full-service hotels, one can find the perfect lodging partner.
Dining at Bear Mountain
One can only enjoy an experience with a full stomach. Bear Mountain offers a wide range of dining options. These include the Bighorn Smokehouse, BBQ in the Park and Flat Bottom Dough Pizza, among many others.
Geronimo’s Outpost is ideal for skiers who just want a quick bite without having to remove their skis or board.
No skiing experience can be complete without having a drink at the bar and watching the sunset. It is the perfect end to a thrilling and exhilarating trip. When skiers get tired from skiing, they can head over to Bear Mountain’s Beach Bar. Refreshing drinks and food await them.
3. Snow Valley
Snow Valley Mountain Resort is in the midway of Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead. The resort does not receive as much snow as Bear Mountain does. This is due to its lower elevation, which is approximately 1,000 ft. lower.
However, Snow Valley offers a nice mixture of beginner and technical terrains and trails, which makes this resort a popular choice for families as well as groups having diverse skill levels.
The Snow Valley Mountain Resort is also one of the best ski resorts in Southern California. This is an ideal place to visit for locals and tourists alike.
The resort is nestled at the heart of Running Springs California. What makes this ski resort unique is that it is one of the oldest operational ski resorts in the Southern California region. In addition, it is also one of the four popular ski resorts in the San Bernardino National Forest.
Skiable Terrain at Snow Valley
What makes this resort stand out from the rest of the Southern California resorts is its variety of skiable terrains suitable for all difficulty levels. With 5 triple chairs, 6 double chairs and 1 surface chair, this makes a total of 12 lifts.
In total, the resort offers 28 runs out of which 14% slopes are reserved for beginners and families. As 48% of the skiable terrain is marked blue, intermediate skiers are the luckiest since they have most of the terrain to themselves.
For those who do not shy away from challenging slopes and pistes, they can enjoy the 34% of black marked terrain suitable for advanced skiers. Unfortunately, true powder hound expert skiers will be slightly disappointed as the resort only offers 7% of expert terrain.
Lodging Options for the Guests
Snow Valley Mountain Resort is less crowded and more economical compared to Big Bear resorts. One of the reasons that it is less crowded is because there is a lack of nearby lodging.
Skiers and tourists have to drive all the way to Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear, or San Bernardino so they can rest after a tiring yet exciting day on the slopes. As there are no lodging facilities, there are also no non-ski leisure activities available.
4. June Mountain
Down the road from Mammoth Mountain, there is the June Mountain. Located near June Lake and Southeast of Yosemite National Park, June Mountain encompasses an area of 1,500 acres where riders and skiers have the time of their life, enjoying one of the best ski resorts in Southern California.
Skiers can use the service of one of the seven lifts, which can take them up to 2,590 ft. of the vertical height of the resort.
There are 35 trails with fresh powder that skiers and snowboarders can follow. With 2 High-Speed Quads, 4 Double Chairs, and 1 surface lift, skiers are able to access the terrain with ease.
Terrain for Experts and Freestylers
For freestylers and expert skiers who wish to enjoy the challenging terrain, there are three terrain parks to pick from.
Boasting an area of 26% for advanced skiers and 18% for expert skiers, the terrain is just what an expert skier wants for exciting off-piste skiing down fresh powder.
There is much more to do including backcountry tours to places like Gnome Zone, San Joaquin Ridge, Upper Glass Creek, Carson Peak, the Negatives, Fern Creek, Four Seasons, Devil's Slide, and more.
Terrain for Beginner Skiers
June Mountain is a family-friendly resort famous for its wide trails and beginner-friendly terrains. This wonderful family resort is an enjoyable spot for holiday goers from kids to teenagers to parents.
For beginners looking for a good opportunity to learn the terrain park basics while ensuring their safety, Mambo Playground is the ideal choice.
Accessible through Chair J2, this resort features a combination of natural terrain, rails jumps, and boxes. This means that beginners can easily learn the basics of skiing.
Another park for beginner skiers at this resort is the Surprise Fun Zone, accessible through Chair J2. With easy slopes and gentle turns, beginner skiers can gain the confidence and skills needed to ski on more challenging slopes.
Lodging at June Mountain
For accommodation options, check out the Big Rock Resort in the Inyo National Forest on the shores of June Lake. There is also the Boulder Lodge, which features an indoor swimming pool, hot tub, sauna and game room. For cabin rentals, head on to Four Seasons, and experience watching the wildlife and beautiful sunsets.
5. China Peak
Another resort for skiers to visit when skiing in Southern California is the China Peak. Located northeast of Fresno at Huntington Lake, the China Peak Mountain Resort offers a range of terrain parks of all levels for skiers to choose from.
The Terrain at China Peak
On average, China Peak receives an estimate of 300 inches of snowfall annually. The beginner snowboarders and skiers can take one of the seven chairlifts, three moving carpets, or the T-bar to access the trail runs.
With 11% of the terrain suitable for the beginner level skier, there are limited skiing activities that the skiers can indulge in. With 33% of the terrain suited for advanced skiers and 28% for expert skiers, this resort is best for true powder hounds.
Lodging and Other Activities at China Peak
You can lodge at The Inn at China Peak where you can have ski access and exciting après ski scene offered at JW’s Original Bar. Those visitors who come in the summertime will find a variety of activities, such as scenic chair rides, mountain bike park, and disc golf course.
Whatever resort you decide on, expect the experience of a lifetime and discover how the best ski resorts in Southern California can compete with other popular resorts in other US states, including North Carolina, New Mexico and Michigan.