Surfing and amusement parks may be the first activities that pop into your head when you think Los Angeles, but within three hours from the palm tree lined streets and desert-like heat is incredible, world-class skiing. Perfect for weekend trips or even a week-long escape, these four spots will satisfy any powder hound from beginner to advanced.
Less than three hours away from LA, Big Bear Mountain Resorts is a ski town overlooking Big Bear Lake. The Resort consists of two mountains, a 1600-foot vertical drop, snowboard terrain courses, and an alpine experience perfect for beginners or laid-back riders, and a one-day pass allows entry throughout the entire park. January is the perfect time to plan a trip as Big Bear Mountain Resort has teamed up with the National Ski Association to offer free rentals for first-time skiers who purchase a lift ticket during “Learn a Snow Sport” Month. Beyond skiing and boarding, there is also tons of hiking, snowshoeing and sledding in the area.
With over 3500 acres of skiable terrain, it’s no wonder it’s called Mammoth. Located in the Eastern Sierra of California, Mammoth Mountain offers the highest elevation of all California’s resorts and is about five hours away from Los Angeles — making it a hot weekend spot. Mammoth has many swanky lodges and cabins to rent, and is the most upscale ski resort in the area besides North Lake Tahoe. Beyond traditional skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiers and snowshoers will love the 19-miles of trails through the backcountry. Sledding and snowshoe options are plentiful and Instagram lovers will have dozens of photo-worthy spots to capture. The winter season typically runs from November through June allowing SoCal residents to have an extended snow day.
Perhaps the least known mountain in California, LA locals love this laid-back, family-friendly resort that has a 2,590-foot vertical drop. Powderhounds.com even says, “It’s the closest you might ever get to having your own private ski resort.“ Just southeast of Yosemite National Park, the sister mountain to Mammoth is great for a day trip when you’re already staying in the area for a long weekend. Our favorite part is the Sierra Backcountry, where visitors can reserve a guide to explore otherwise inaccessible areas like Devil’s Slide, Carson Peak, Fern Creek, and the Negatives.
About eight hours from LA on the California/Nevada border is Lake Tahoe, and a half a dozen ski resorts line the lake. South Lake Tahoe features three different resorts that all offer varied landscapes, difficulty and terrain. Kirkwood is known for its technical moguls and black diamonds, while Heavenly boasts gorgeous views from the impressive gondola. With 97 runs, there’s an incredible amount of terrain to cover. Squaw Valley has two mountains and over 6,000 acres to explore. It’s not only one of the largest ski areas in the United States, but also hosted the 1960 Olympic winter games. Unlike Mammoth and Big Bear, South Lake Tahoe has more of a town feel rather than one resort and there’s also the benefit of Nevada laws — aka gamers and gamblers will love the nightlife that comes with the casinos.