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While San Diegans may never see a snowstorm in the forecast, Southern California skiers and snowboarders are in luck — there are dozens of snowy summits just a drive away from the sunny surf and sand.
Whether you hit the powder just an hour or two outside the city or pack up your car (make sure to bring chains!) for an icy adventure further north, these picks offer the best slopes and some fun après-ski treats, too!
Both snow bunnies and ski veterans alike flock to Big Bear Mountain Resort in hordes during the winter. Bear Mountain is home to the region’s largest beginner ski area, while the nearby Snow Summit drops skiers off at the steepest terrain in SoCal. Big Bear also features the area’s only halfpipes and some notoriously gnarly night rides (looking at you, Westridge Park). Even better, passes at this resort include access to both mountains and rides on the shuttle between the two.
Only a two hour drive from San Diego, Mountain High is the best of the west… and east and north. This SoCal winter resort is broken into three areas—West, East, and North—for skiers and snowboarders (and tubers!) of all levels. The West Resort is perfect for freestylers, the East Resort has an alpine attitude (with a sick view of the Mojave Desert), and the North Resort is quite family-friendly.
San Bernardino Mountains’ Snow Valley resort offers skiers and snowboarders 240 acres of skiable terrain (ranging from beginner to advanced) to get their powder fix in. Testing your luck? Hit up The Edge — a terrain park with different jumps for both skiers and snowboarders. But if you’re a beginner still testing out your ski legs, it's best to start at the Park Avenue progression park.
Want to cruise down a mountain without the crowds? Mt. Baldy is on the smaller side of SoCal ski resorts with only four lifts and a handful of trails, but that keeps the slopes clearer. Plus, it's only about two hours from the city. Heads up, though: the snow is not groomed on Mt. Baldy, so we suggest getting in some practice runs beforehand if you’re a beginner.
Mt. Waterman is a winter wonderland for experienced skiers. The three ski lifts showcase steep runs between piney trees that let you forget that you are just a short drive from warmer weather. Fitt Tip: make sure to bring your own gear; Mt. Waterman does not offer rentals.
Don’t be fooled by this mountain’s 300 days of sunshine — as one of the most frequented ski resorts in the United States, Mammoth Mountain is the place to be in the winter. This 11,000-foot mountain boasts dozens of trails for skiers of all levels—from baby bunny slopes to intimidating black diamonds—with 360º of gorgeous views that make the long drive time (seven hours) worth it.
Bring an extra day or two of layers and trek over to June Mountain after you finish your stay at Mammoth. Mammoth’s next door neighbor, June Mountain hosts 41 trails (about 50% for intermediate) to play in the powder. Feel like taking the fam along? June Mountain lets kids under the age of 12 ski for free.
If you're feeling up for a long drive, head over to North Lake Tahoe for 6,000 skiable acres of frosty fun between Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley resorts. The resorts together offer eight mountain peaks and over 40 chair lifts. Don’t be intimidated by the Olympians who come to practice at Squaw Valley or Alpine Meadows; the resorts offers trails for skiers of all levels. Feeling inspired? Hit up the numerous halfpipes for fun.
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