With California being known for its warm weather and sunny beaches it may come as quite a shock to know that there are a vast amount of ski resorts that can be reached within just a few hours from Los Angeles! The state is home to the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountain ranges located just northeast of Los Angeles.
They both possess some amazing resorts where you can find plenty of fresh powder throughout the winter. We’ve compiled a list of seven ski resorts, all of which are within a few hours’ drive of Los Angeles International Airport and Downtown Los Angeles. So brush up on your ski slang and pack up the car for a road trip!
Several of these resorts are along either side (east or west) of the Interstate 15, which presents an easy route for guests coming straight from the Los Angeles area. The only exception on the list is Mammoth Mountain, which is a further drive up the Interstate 5, a freeway that stretches all the way from the Mexican Border across California, Oregon, and up into Washington.
There are a massive number of freeways surrounding the Los Angeles Area that tend to get quite crowded during peak travel hours. Therefore, drive times into these ski resorts may shoot up on Friday afternoon, or on the weekend, so plan to head up on a weekday if at all possible.
Here are the ski resorts near Los Angeles, California, in order of proximity:
Mt. Baldy Ski Resort (50mi/1hr)
Mt. Baldy is a classic, old-style ski resort and happens to be the closest resort for an easy day trip from Los Angeles. It’s just a short hour drive away! While not very big in size, Mt. Baldy does feature four chair lifts providing access to more than 4,000 acres of terrain and 26 trails across the mountain.
This resort is mostly for intermediate and advanced skiers/snowboarders, as 80% of the runs are intermediate or above, while just 20% are at the beginner-level. Although a handful of blue & green trails do wind down from the two 8,600 ft peaks, the lower half of the mountain is mainly challenging black runs, most of which can be accessed by Chair 3 or Chair 4.
The base lodge at Mt. Baldy resides around 6500 feet, while the lift-served summit is 8600 ft. This provides a stimulating 2100 feet of vertical, to ensure you get the blood flowing to your legs.
Mt. Baldy Ski Resort also offers tubing options, which have become quite a novelty for Southern California natives, especially those bringing younger children to the resort area. Being so close to Los Angeles, the annual snowfall of Mt. Baldy will tend to vary from year-to-year.
In some winter periods there seems to be insufficient natural snow, meaning the resorts will have to provide manmade powder in order to keep the slopes running, However, in other seasons (particularly El Niño years) this resort can accumulate a favorable amount of natural snow for their operations.
8401 Mt Baldy Rd, Mt Baldy, CA 91759 (Map) | 909-982-0800
Mt. Waterman Ski Resort (55mi/1.5hrs)
Mt. Waterman may be one of the more underrated ski resorts within close range of Los Angeles. This resort brings in smaller crowds with only three chair lifts available on the entire mountain. You can escape the crowds at larger Southern California resorts and enjoy any 1 of the 25 runs available at Mt. Waterman during the wintertime!
Similar to Mt. Baldy, nearly 65% of the mountain is advanced-level runs, while offering some beginner & intermediate runs at the top of the mountain. The mountain features a unique resting area, called The Warming Hut, which offers marvelous viewpoints, a massive fireplace to keep guests warm, and a food and drink service.
Mt. Waterman is an upside-down hill, meaning their main facilities are located at the top of Chair 1. The resort provides scenic rides for all guests from the parking lot to their top of the mountain facilities. It is important to note that this mountain does not provide any equipment rentals; therefore, you should prepare to bring your own or rent elsewhere prior to arriving.
The top elevation is 8,030 feet, with a vertical drop of 1,030 ft, making the base a comfortable 7,000 ft. There are 150 skiable acres at Mt. Waterman Ski Resort. Worth noting, this resort does NOT have ski rentals, so you’ll need to bring your own.
California 2, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 93553 (Map) | 818-790-2002
Mountain High Ski Resort (80mi/1.25hrs)
Nearly 100 miles outside of Los Angeles, along State Route 2, and just west of Wrightwood, California, you’ll find Mountain High within the Angeles National Forest. As one of America’s oldest ski resorts, this mountain exhibits fourteen lifts and has slowly become of one the most visited ski resorts in Southern California.
Unlike the prior two resorts, Mountain High is more beginner-friendly overall and the skiable terrain is actually divided between three separate mountains (North, East, and West). These are all connected by shuttle bus for easy access. Combined they represent 290 skiable acres and 515 acres of permit terrain.
Based at 7,200 feet, the North Mountain is dedicated mainly to beginners in ski-school and snow play. You can find the North Pole Tubing Park in this area too. The peak is 7,800 feet, providing a short 600-foot vert.
The East Mountain is where you’ll discover longer runs (mostly blue) and more open terrain throughout. In fact, the longest run in Southern California (called Goldrush) can be found on the East Mountain and runs at 1.6 miles long! This resort has the most vertical at 1,600 feet, connecting the base at 6,600 feet with the peak at 8,200 ft.
Next up is the more popular West Mountain, which features steep black runs and Mountain High’s Terrain Park for freestyle action that caters more to the snowboarding crowd. It peaks at 8,000 feet and starts at 7,000 ft.
Mountain High tends to draw in bigger crowds in the afternoons with the fact that skiing after dark is also possible here! The resort has installed floodlit slopes throughout the mountain. Therefore, even when the sun goes down, the night skiing can continue.
24510 CA-2, Wrightwood, CA 92397 (Map) | 888-754-7878
Snow Valley Mountain Resort (85mi/1.5hrs)
Located just a few miles east of Running Springs, California via Highway 18, this resort offers terrain for all skill groups. Those living close to Southern California’s valley floor won’t have to go far. A majority of traveling guests choose to stay in Running Springs when skiing at this mountain – since there is no lodging at Snow Valley itself.
Snow Valley’s 13 chairlifts provide access to 240 acres of skiable terrain. The base area resides at 6,800 feet and summit at 7,841 ft.
There is a Children’s Learning Center that specializes in teaching younger riders the ways of the mountain, as well as a ski-school providing lessons for adults too. For the more-advanced crew, there is plenty of terrain parks across Snow Valley as well.
The EDGE Terrain park is a crowd favorite, as it offers over a mile of downhill adventure, with various hits, spines, and tabletops set up throughout. Additionally, the Park Avenue Progression Park and Hideout Jib Park are both spacious places for riders to practice their tricks and enjoy the sport.
35100 CA-18, Running Springs, CA 92382 (Map) | 909-867-2751
Bear Mountain Ski Resort (100mi/2hrs)
By taking a little further drive outside of Los Angeles, you’ll find yourself at Bear Mountain Ski Resort. It’s known for its top-notch terrain parks among freestyle skiers and boarders! In fact, in the early 1990s, Bear Mountain built the first freestyle park at a resort.
Bear Mountain hosts a total of 14 terrain parks that are spread out beneath the three main peaks of the mountain: Bear Peak (the tallest at 8,805 ft), Silver Mountain, and Goldmine Mountain. The base elevation is 7,140 ft, providing a decent vertical rise of 1,665 ft.
Most of the terrain on this popular mountain destination falls into the intermediate category, while only 15% of the runs fall into a beginner-level category. Additionally, Bear Mountain is home to Southern California’s only Superpipe, an asset that young riders love to come to the area for! There are 198 developed and 550 undeveloped/natural skiable acres.
It’s worthy to note that Bear Mountain is a part of the Big Bear Mountain Resort; therefore, when you buy a lift pass here you can also ski at the neighboring Snow Summit (detailed below) during your stay! With Big Bear being more of a populous city, there are no shortages of lodging and dining options throughout the area, especially as you get further down the mountain and closer to Big Bear Lake.
43101 Goldmine Dr, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315 (Map) | 844-462-2327
Snow Summit Ski Resort (in Big Bear) (98mi/2hrs)
Bear Mountain’s sister resort is Snow Summit, where skiers will find plenty of smooth terrain and a large amount of intermediate blue runs down the mountain. The two mountains are only separated by about 3 miles, which is an added bonus for those coming to the area from out of town.
Although smaller than its sister resort, Bear Mountain, Snow Summit still boasts over 240 acres of skiable terrain, 26 trails available to all skill levels and 18+ skiable miles throughout the entire mountain. Snow Summit is a family-friendly resort with plenty of runs that are sure to hone your skills and help get in any practice you may need on the slopes.
With snowfall varying from year-to-year in this area, Snow Summit has extensive snowmaking operations that help keep the trails open and includes night skiing on most days of the week as well. Founded in 1952, Snow Summit has a base elevation of 7,000 feet and peak of 8,200 ft.
Additionally, Snow Summit features excellent eateries on their mountaintop for when you’re ready to relax and take a rest from the slopes for a bit. One of the most popular places is Hog on the Rocks, which has excellent BBQ food and is a great break spot to enjoy the view of the mountain itself.
880 Summit Blvd, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315 (Map) | 844-462-2327
Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort (310mi/4.75hrs)
Although a significantly longer drive north from Los Angeles, Mammoth Mountain is one of the best all-around mountain resorts in California. It provides everything you would need for an awesome mountain vacation. This mountain resides on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Boasting California’s highest elevated lift-served terrain and a playground of 3,500+ skiable acres, Mammoth Mountain absolutely earns its colossal name. The mountain averages nearly 400 inches of snowfall each year (rare in California). This grants it to one of the country’s longest ski seasons. The base is at 7,953 feet and summit is at 11,053 ft.
The resort is usually open from early November into late-spring, sometimes even August! It draws in big crowds during the holidays or weekends when fresh powder has come down. With so much skiable terrain, the mountain is great for all skill levels, and has various terrain parks, tree skiing, and halfpipes mixed in for the more advanced riders.
The best place to stay is probably Mammoth Lakes, due to its close proximity only 6 miles away from the slopes. It has stellar dining, shopping and entertaining options. Even the nightlife is vibrant. Additionally, guests can spend their time at the nearby tubing parks or go for a ride on a snowmobiling tour of the city itself.
10001 Minaret Road, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546 (Map) | 800-626-6684
All-in-all local skiers and snowboarders all have their favorite resorts for their own reasons here in California, but you can’t go wrong with any of these wonderful options. It’s time to plan a fun adventure in the snow just a few hours outside of the City of Angels! Be sure to add one of these California hot springs to the equation too.
Perhaps a day at one of these SoCal beaches is in order following your ski day. Ah California!