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When the weather drops below 60 degrees in Los Angeles, snow-loving locals flock to the outskirts of the city in search of the perfect summit. Even though Los Angeles hasn’t seen snow in over fifty years, the city is not completely without its favorite skiing spots. With locales such as Big Bear and Lake Tahoe, the skiing opportunities around Los Angeles are endless.
Top 9 Places to Spend the Weekend Skiing near L.A.
1. Heavenly Mountain Resort
If visitors are looking for skiing with a view, Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Mountain Resort fits the bill. Overlooking the opal waters of Lake Tahoe, the resort is replete with gorgeous vistas from every vantage point. This is easily Travis’s favorite spot to snowboard. For those traveling by plane, Heavenly Mountain Resort is within an hour of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport and two hours from the Sacramento International Airport. Visitors who want to drive may take I-5 North into the resort. Shuttles, buses, and trains are other options for traveling to the resort. As far as skiing goes, beginners have their own runs while more experienced riders can test their skills on the resort’s tree runs and terrain parks. According to Travis, the resort “caters to everyone” since it is abounding in a variety activities for everyone of differing skill levels. Activities such as tubing, ice skating, kids’ ski school, shows, arcades, and the Ripperoo Parade make the resort ideal for creating memories the family will never forget. Heavenly Mountain’s nightlife is also worth noting for visitors planning to stay at the resort overnight. Casinos, fine dining, concerts, and nightclubs are all options for visitors planning to stay a few nights.
Hours: Mon. - Fri. (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.), weekends and holidays (8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.)
2. Mammoth Mountain
Mammoth Mountain is another ski destination close to L.A. that locals adore. According to Travis, “Mammoth is the most popular and most common among L.A. residents.” Located in the Mammoth Lakes along the 395 corridor, the resort boasts a summit 11,053 feet above sea level. What makes Mammoth Mountain unique is its endless list of winter activities such as snowcat tours, mountain tours, cross-country skiing, scenic gondola rides, bowling, and indoor golf. Mammoth Mountain is also host to famous winter events such as the U.S. Freeski & Snowboard Grand Prix and the 11,053’ Winter Ezakimak Challenge. Visitors can also engage in a bit of retail therapy while visiting the resort. Mammoth’s “couture closets” include names like Toni Sailer, Bogner, Fire + Ice, Kjus and Jet Set. Mammoth Mountain also accommodates group lodging and group activities such as Ski/Snowboard school and snowmobile adventures.
Hours: Mon. - Sun. (8 a.m. - 4 p.m.)
3. Big Bear Resort
Known for its terrain parks, Big Bear is another popular skiing destination for L.A. natives. Travis suggests Big Bear for locals who are looking for a day trip since the resort also features Big Bear Village, a tourist favorite. The resort is divided into two sections: Snow Summit and Bear Mountain. Snow Summit is more popular with skiers, while Bear Mountain is more popular with snowboarders due to its terrain parks. Usually, Snow Summit is the more crowded of the two parks since it has more open days than Bear Mountain. Since snow covers all of the resort’s ski runs, this makes the destination ideal for uninterrupted riding. Snow Summit also features nighttime skiing for those wanting to hit the slopes in the evening. Bear Mountain usually gets crowded at its base since this is the hotspot of snowboarding activity. If visitors want to avoid the crowds, the upper part of Bear Mountain is usually less congested. Lift tickets for Snow Summit and Bear Mountain are interchangeable and shuttles are available for commuting between lifts. Both resorts offer full dining options for visitors who work up an appetite on the slopes.
Hours: Mon. - Fri. (9 a.m. - 4 p.m.), Sat. - Sun. (8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.) Nighttime Skiing: Sat. 3:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. only at Snow Summit
4. Mountain High Resort
Located in the San Gabriel Mountains, Mountain High Resort is only 90 miles from Downtown Los Angeles and Orange County. The resort consists of three smaller resorts (East, West, and North) each with differing levels of skiing expertise. Aside from boasting a lower price than Big Bear, Mountain High also offers ticket deals that make visiting even cheaper. If visitors are looking for activities the whole family can enjoy, the resort’s lesson program has “one of the highest return rates in the country.” Lessons are offered seven days a week at the West Resort, while the East Resort offers lessons on weekends and holidays. Another appeal of Mountain High is its nighttime skiing which is available seven days a week from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. – ideal for those who want a quick ski after work or school. Since over 85% of the resort is lit during the evening, nighttime skiing sessions are visible and clear. Mountain High also offers complete ski and snowboard rentals for those who prefer to pack light.
Hours: Mon. - Sun. (8:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.)
5. Snow Valley Mountain Resort
Located just outside Running Springs, Snow Valley Mountain Resort is a smaller resort than neighboring resorts in Big Bear. Visitors will find that Snow Valley is not nearly as crowded as Big Bear and much less competitive. Since the resort does not offer overnight lodging, visitors planning to spend the night can find lodging in Big Bear, Lake Arrowhead, or San Bernardino. Snow Valley features 28 runs and features a dedicated area for snow play and sledding. Although the resort does not currently feature any full-dining restaurants, refreshments are served on The Sun Deck. Visitors in search of a hearty meal will find a plethora of restaurants in the areas surrounding the resort.
Hours: Mon. - Sun. (9 a.m. - 4 p.m.) Nighttime Skiing: Nightly (3 p.m. - 8 p.m.)
7. Rim Nordic Ski Area
The Rim Nordic Skiing Area sits within the San Bernardino Mountains in Running Springs, California. The resort is the “only cross-country ski area in Southern California with machine-groomed trails.” In addition to skiing, visitors are also welcome to snowshoe in the area. Cross country and snowshoe rentals are offered on site. Although there are no restaurants on the site itself, there is a snack shop available for those looking for a quick bite to eat. Full-dining and lodging options can be found in the surrounding area near Big Bear.
Hours: Mon. - Sun. (9 a.m. - 4 p.m.)
8. Mt. Pinos Nordic Skiing
Located at the highest point in San Emigdio Mountains in the Los Padres National Forest, Mount Pinos Nordic Skiing is another local favorite of Los Angeles skiers. Since this resort does not rent out skiing equipment, it is important for visitors to get organized and pack their own equipment before visiting Mt. Pinos. The resort also does not offer lessons, so it is advised that only skiers with intermediate to advanced riding skills visit. There are some slopes at the resort, but no lifts which makes downhill skiing difficult. However, the resort’s lack of commercial development does not mean that this is a spot skiers should ignore. The landscape in Mt. Pinos is pristine and untouched by industry. The quiet pine trees powdered with snow are beautiful and perfect for nature lovers.
Hours: Mon. - Sun. (9 a.m. - 4 p.m.)
9. Aspen’s Snowmass Ski Resort
A skiing guide would not be complete if it did not mention the amazing skiing opportunities available in the nearby state of Colorado. Aspen Snowmass features some of the best skiing landscapes in the country and is only an hour-and-a-half away from Los Angeles by plane. With a top elevation of 12,509 feet and vistas upwards of 14,000 feet, Snowmass is as fun as it is breathtaking. The resort is actually broken into four skiing mountains called Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk with each site catering to a different skiing expertise. Buttermilk and Snowmass are best for children and beginners as these sites have designated learning areas. For more seasoned riders, Aspen (“Ajax”) Mountain and Aspen Highlands are perfect for adventurous runs down the summit. The resorts also feature a myriad of winter activities such as cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, ice skating and much more. Visitors may lodge in downtown Aspen or Snowmass Village. If visitors need a break from the slopes, historic downtown Aspen is an excellent place to explore.
Hours: Mon. - Sun. (8 a.m. - 9 p.m.)
Go Out and Enjoy the Snowscape Before It’s Gone
Whether you’re a Los Angeles native or just visiting during the winter, there is no need to skip out on your favorite winter activities. Neighboring areas such as Big Bear, Lake Tahoe, and Mammoth, offer visitors a variety of snow sports such as skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and much more. Most snow resorts end their winter season around April, so be sure to make your reservations and plans before spring.