Where to Go for Snow

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With a few different mountains within a two-hour drive from Newport Beach, it can be difficult to narrow down the best resort for your needs.

Luckily, I’ve been to each of them several times and this week I can break down the top few options for your winter ski or snowboard trip.

The mountains that I believe are the top options for a quick day trip are Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, Snow Valley, and Mountain High.  Bear Mountain and Snow Summit should be considered a single mountain because they’re only a 10-minute shuttle ride apart and buying a lift ticket to one gives you access to the other.

Bear and Summit combined are easily the most popular spots to visit among Orange County residents.  That can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.  Tons of runs at all different ability levels drape Big Bear Mountain and include freestyle parks, restaurants, bars, and lodging if you plan on staying overnight.

I kind of see Big Bear as the popular place to be since it’s only about a 90-minute drive, possibly more depending on conditions, and has the biggest and best runs.  You should head there if you’re looking for the party, the most runs, or the most bang for your buck – if you don’t mind the crowds or lift lines.

If you’d like to shave 30 minutes off your drive you can stop at Snow Valley, about 13 miles down the hill from Bear Mountain and Snow Summit.  Although it doesn’t have the size and magnitude of the mountains at the top of the hill, Snow Valley is perfect for the casual rider or skier who just wants to get out there for a quick day without huge crowds or a massive price tag.

Snow Valley is also good for the snowboarder who is interested in doing tricks in parks, as they boast a jib park with small rails and boxes as well as a progression park which is perfect for beginners looking to try out some tricks.  They even have a “snow play” area for tobogganing and sledding.

The third option is a smaller resort over in Wrightwood called Mountain High.  At just over an hour, Mountain High is surely the quickest drive of the three.  The mountain has three different areas and a single lift ticket gets you into all of them.  The north area has steeper hills and has more of a backcountry feel, and the east and west areas are more for the casual and/or beginning skier or snowboarder.

So those are some of your day-trip options.  These resorts all have lodging as well, and a quick weekend getaway is not only affordable, but readily available.  If you’re looking to get out of the 70 degree weather of Newport Beach and into some “scrape the ice off your car” weather, all of these places should provide just what you need.

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