When most people think of LA, they think of sun, beaches and surfing. But winter is here and if we're lucky (depending on your sporting interests) it will be a good one for skiing and snowboarding. Then again, many of these spots have manmade snow thanks to snow machines, so snowfall shouldn't be too much of an issue. What follows is a list of Southern California snowboarding and skiing
spots not too far from LA (the furthest being just shy of three hours). So for the purposes of this nearby list I've left out Mammoth which is a bit more of a trek (which requires about five hours of driving time from LA). That's it, snow bunnies and bros, now, hit the slopes!
Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
This ski area is about two hours--give or take--from Los Angeles, depending on the traffic, of course. Mount Pinos is located between Kern County and Ventura in the Los Padres National Forest, north and inland from LA. It's a favorite with locals. I can even recall as a kid, going to day trip birthday parties out there. Their slopes host snowboarding and cross country skiing as well as sledding for the little ones, and snow camping for the Bear Grylls in all of us. Be advised that if there is extreme whether, the county may close the snow gate lower on the mountain preventing visitors from driving up to the top of Mount Pinos Road. However, skiers can still enjoy the lower slopes at such times.
This mountain resort is located in Running Springs, in the San Bernardino National Forest. Drive time averages at about just over two hours, so it's also a suitable day trip (if you start early) or over-nighter. Snow Valley is an especially great place for beginners (or the slightly rusty) to learn to ski and snowboard with ease. With close to eight decades of experience and some great terrain, it's the perfect playground for winter sports enthusiasts. And if you've got kids, they'll appreciate being part of the action as Snow Valley offers children's lessons as well as mini snowmobile rental (for usage on their track) for kids aged six to twelve. They also offer night skiing.
This nearby winter sporting destination is about an hour and twenty minutes from most neighborhoods in central LA. It's located in San Bernardino County about 12 miles north of Ontario. They began to accommodate skiing in 1952. Today, they're a favorite So.Cal local spot for beginners and advanced skiiers alike boasting 800 acres and 2,000 vertical feet of skiing (which they say is the most available in Southern California). Snowboarding's been around there since the '70s. Look out for special offers from them geared towards serious skiing and snowboarding addicts like their charter membership for $19.97 a month--which includes unlimited skiing and snowboarding for a month.
It takes just under two hours to get to Wrightwood where Mountain High is located, in the San Gabriel Mountains in LA County. Living up to its name and standing high, it is situated at an average elevation of 8,000 feet (depending on the ridge and snowfall that season). It is comprised of Mountain High North (for beginners and intermediate skiiers and boarders), Mountain High West (for all levels) and Mountain High East (for advanced skiiers and boarders). As a plus, they also host the North Pole Tubing Park (for tubers of all ages), allegedly the largest tubing facility in So. Cal.
At about an hour and twenty minutes from most of LA proper, Mount Waterman is another great nearby day trip site for winter sports fanatics. Located in the San Gabriel Mountains of the Angeles National Forest in La Canada, they have a ski school along with chair lifts for beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders. Their peak reaches over 8,000 feet and they have an overall vertical drop of 1,030 feet. A full day lift ticket is $50 for adults (18 to 64), $40 for teens (13 to 17_, $20 for Seniors (over 65), $20 for children (seven to twelve) and free to children under seven.
Big Bear Lake, a town in San Bernardino is just under two and a half hours from most of LA. It is perhaps 'the' winter sports destination in Southern California (at least as far as locations that take less than five hours to reach). It boasts two major ski resorts: Bear Mountain
and Snow Summit
. The former has elevations of up to 8,805 feet and 748 permit acres. The majority of its slopes are intermediate (40%) and advanced (30%). It's no wonder it's particularly popular with snowboarders (and adventurous skiiers) as it is home to a Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding Park. If you're looking for the 'winter chapter' of LA's chill-out surf, skate and party scene, this is it. Conversely, Snow Summit gears itself more to families. It has a snow sports school (for skiing and snowboarding) for all ages including a Little Bear Camp (a school that includes shelter in the price).