Los Angeles Family Ski Vacations at Big Bear Lake

Mimi Slawoff Avatar
Big Bear Skiing
Photo credit: Visit Big Bear

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

SheBuysTravel Tip: Did you know that you can rent your ski gear? The Ski KITs are rented at 90% off of the retail cost and shipped directly to your destination with free shipping and returns. This is a great option for families with kids who grow out of their ski gear each season. Kit’s include jackets, pants, goggles, gloves, and optional snow boots. See all rental options here.
Big bear skiing
Big Bear has plenty of snowy slopes for skiers and snowboarders to hone their skills. Photo credit: Mimi Slawoff

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.

big bear skiing
Skiing and snowboarding is more enjoyable when skills improve with lessons. Photo credit: Visit Big Bear

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.

Big Bear Snow Play and Alpine at Magic Mountain have designate tubing areas with Magic Carpet lifts. Photo credit: Lee Stockwell.

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.

Native Angeleno and seasoned travel journalist Mimi Slawoff writes for numerous print and digital publications. She is also the author of Oldest Los Angeles (Reedy Press, 2022). A lifelong world traveler, Mimi is an award-winning journalist who writes about outdoor adventures, cruises, Europe and cultural activities. Mimi has three grown kids and lives with her husband and their dog, Maya, in Los Angeles.
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3 responses

  1. Hi,

    My name is Libby and I am a travel agent in Australia.

    Two of my clients are travelling to USA + Canada for a ski trip next year. They have 3 nights accommodation in Los Angeles from the 3rd Feb – 6th Feb and were wanting to do a day trip to big bear. They have all their ski equipment they would just need transfers from Los Angeles and mountain pass. Can you help me or put me in the right direction of how to go about organising this for them?


    Kind regards,


  2. Big Bear feels like home to me. I’ve been going my entire life and now I share it with my kids.

  3. This post totally brought back memories! I grew up in OC and we would go up to Big Bear every few years. I also made the trip with a friend and her mom…fun memories!

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