Big Bear Ski Resort is actually comprised of
two separate mountains: Big Bear Mountain and
Snow Summit. A free 1.5-mile shuttle links the
two ski areas and ski tickets for each place are
interchangeable. Located near the pleasant town
of Big Bear California, Big Bear Ski Resort is
within easy driving distance of most Southern
California cities. Los
Angeles and Palm
Springs are both about two hours away, San
Diego is just a little farther. The nearest
commercial airport is in Ontario, about 60 miles
Big Bear Ski Resort is not the largest in Southern California — this title belongs to Mt Baldy — but with 26 lifts servicing over 400 skiable acres, it has a good claim to being the best. Southern Californians seem to agree: Big Bear California is the most popular ski destination in the area.
Although their peaks are both over 7,000 feet above sea level, Big Bear Mountain and Snow Summit rely heavily on snowmaking. Because of this, Big Bear Ski Resort has become an expert snowmaking resort. Snowmakers cover a full 100% of the runs, getting their water from nearby Big Bear Lake, so even in a dry winter there is often surprisingly good snow on the runs. When nature adds her bounty, the skiing can be excellent.
Southern California is a surfing Mecca and snowboarding
has been called “surfing on snow,”
so it is no surprise that Big Bear California
caters heavily to snowboarders. Shuan White, Olympic
gold medalist in snowboarding at the 2006 games,
grew in Big Bear California.
Big Bear Mountain is sometimes referred to as “The Park” because it has so many terrain park features spread across its runs — a revolving selection of over 150 jumps and 80 jibs. Big Bear Mountain also has Southern California’s only superpipe, a specially constructed huge-walled halfpipe. Snow Summit also has an impressive terrain park.
Big Bear Ski Resort does not have not much in
the way of expert runs (except for the difficult
terrain park features). For this, visitors to
California will want to venture to the Lake
Tahoe area, where Squaw
Mountain, Alpine Meadows, and numerous smaller
hills have extremely challenging runs. Experts
will want to come to Big Bear California when
there has been a good snowfall and the tree runs
are open on Big Bear Mountain.
Advanced and Intermediate skiers will be perfectly satisfied with the terrain at Big Bear Ski Resort, however. Snow Summit has miles of wide-open, interconnected runs suitable for intermediates. Big Bear Mountain has some steep advanced runs at its peak.
Big Bear lodging is plentiful and there is a Big Bear Lodging Association to help find the accommodation right for you. One unique place to stay is the Block Hotel, created by professional snowboarder Marc Frank Montoya. The Block has board pegs, glove and boot driers, and other features specially geared to riders. For more conventional Big Bear lodging, try Gold Mountain Manor Bed and Breakfast, a historic wood manor with Jacuzzi suites and fireplaces. Prices range from $125 to $225 a night.
Big Bear California is a great place to visit as part of a Southern California vacation. It is close to San Diego and Los Angeles, but can seem worlds away — a pleasant, walkable mountain town with a top-class ski resort just minutes away.