People often seem surprised that southern California has ski resorts. Sure, we’re known for beaches but we’ve got Big Bear Lake, a year-round mountain resort with three ski areas. Located at 7,000- feet elevation in the San Bernardino National Forest, Big Bear skiing is reachable in less than three hours from just about anywhere in SoCal.
Check out Big Bear skiing and learn why the mountain resort is a great place to ski and snowboard.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Once you’re in Big Bear, park your car and ride the free Big Bear Trolley around town and to the slopes.
Read More: Year-Round Fun in Big Bear Lake California
Big Bear Skiing, San Bernardino Mountains
Over the years, we’ve gone to Big Bear to ski and to enjoy the San Bernardino Mountains for a weekend getaway. It’s especially magical when we arrive during a snowfall. Which happens often. Even in Southern California the mountains get lots of snow. To ensure the ski resorts have fresh snow, Big Bear has a high-tech snowmaking system. The ski and snowboard season is typically from late November to April.
For years, Big Bear Mountain Resort (BBMR) included Snow Summit and Bear Mountain. In 2023, BBMR took over operations at nearby Snow Valley Mountain Resort, creating a three-mountain experience for visitors. While Snow Summit and Bear Mountain are located in Big Bear Lake, Snow Valley is situated 11 miles down the mountain on State Route 18.
About Big Bear Mountain Resorts
Although Bear Mountain is fun for skiers too, it typically attracts a younger, snowboarding crowd. In fact, Bear Mountain’s terrain park is among the best in the United States. Outfitted with half pipes, jibs, boxes and more, the park caters to all levels of skiers and riders.
It’s fun to watch those amazing tricks, but we usually ski at nearby Snow Summit. It’s a super family-friendly resort with groomed runs and the Family Park (a gentle terrain park). Snow Summit also has night skiing.
Be sure to check out Snow Valley, which opened in 1924 and has a great history. It features some of the region’s best beginner terrain, award-winning learning centers, and Southern California’s only lift-served sledding.
Lift ticket prices vary depending on whether you ski at one, two or all three resorts. And you can still ski free on your birthday! All guests must be in proper snowboarding or skiing apparel and gear in order to load onto the chairlifts.
Take a Lesson
Home to the largest learning area in Southern California, Big Bear Mountain Resort offers various types of ski and snowboard lessons. Using the latest teaching methods, lessons take place at the terrain based learning area and Skillbuilder Parks. In addition, Big Bear has an adaptive ski program.
Experts recommend taking a lesson, because the better you are, the more fun you have. Instructors also utilize various teaching tools. These may include edgie-wedgies, rubber tubing that clips on ski tips. For example, these help a child control speed and stop. In addition, colorful cartoon features, and a snow snake that resembles a firehose enable kids to bring their skis together in the correct parallel position.
Lift tickets are valid at all three ski areas. Unless it’s snowing heavily, there’s usually a free shuttle that transports guests between Bear Mountain and Snow Summit.
More Snow Sports for Family Fun
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are fun ways to explore the quiet San Bernardino Forest. In addition to snowy slopes for free sledding, Big Bear has two designated snow play areas. Big Bear Snow Play and Alpine at Magic Mountain. Both have a Magic Carpet uphill lift to eliminate walking up a mountain dragging a tube.
In addition to daytime tubing, Big Bear Snow Play has night glow tubing from 5 – 9 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and holidays. Alpine at Magic Mountain has winter bobsleds and the new Soaring Eagle. A type of chairlift, the Soaring Eagle takes uphill backwards before launching them down to the base.
Read More: Snow Tubing with Kids: 7 Essential Tips
Lodging Near Big Bear Skiing
From cabins and condos to hotels and inns, Big Bear has an assortment of lodging options. Because we travel with our dog, we usually book a vacation house rental from Big Bear Vacations. The company has over 300 cabins and rentals throughout Big Bear Lake.
Big Bear Lake Discounts
Big Bear offers many discount packages throughout the year. Mid-week is usually the best time to go. During this time, there are fewer crowds and good discounts. Rates vary depending on whether you stay in a cabin, hotel or condo.
Note: Make sure your vehicle has proper tires and/or snow chains when visiting Big Bear.
Pack like a pro to make your family ski vacation more enjoyable.
Read about other family friendly ski resorts around the country.