12 Amazing Places to Go Skiing Near Los Angeles & Southern California
By Kay Rodriguez
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Updated November 17, 2022
Did you know that Los Angeles is just one hour away from some pretty amazing snowboarding and skiing spots? Most people don’t! Our LA readers wanted to know where they could trade in their sunglasses for ski goggles and go snowboarding or skiing near Los Angeles. We decided to try and find some epic ski resorts near Los Angeles to help YOU plan a ski vacation this winter…even if it’s 75 and sunny where you are right now.
Believe it or not, there are actually several ski resorts within a few hours’ drive of Los Angeles, making it easy to plan a snow sports day trip or weekend getaway for a change of scenery. Without further ado, here are 12 of the best ski resorts near LA!
Ski Resorts Near Los Angeles & Southern California
At just 1 hour from Los Angeles, Mt. Baldy is the closest of the ski resorts near Los Angeles. It’s a smaller resort, but one that’s quite beloved since it’s easy to reach in a short day trip from downtown LA. Snowboarders and skiers enjoy the challenging trails, varied terrain, and the gorgeous views from the top of the mountain.
With 26 total trails, Mt. Baldy has a pretty even spread of beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert-level trails, making it one of the more well-rounded ski resorts in Southern California. For beginners, they’ve got ski and snowboard lessons and rentals to help get you started. They’ve also got dining and lounge options for rest in between hitting the slopes.
With its location so close to LA and just 27 trails, you might not think anything of Mt. Waterman compared to some of the larger ski resorts near Los Angeles. However, this resort actually has a wide variety of runs ranging from beginner-friendly slopes to advanced black diamond trails.
As one of the older family-run resorts in the Los Angeles area, Mt. Waterman is beloved by many people in LA and Southern California. Many reviewers call it one of Southern California’s hidden gems for snow sports, saying it’s “so off the beaten path” and “very fun for the whole family.”
Distance from Los Angeles: 73 miles (1 hour, 15 minutes)
Accommodation available? Not on site
Experience levels: All levels
Compared to the other more traditional ski resorts on this list, Mt. Pinos is a bit of a different game. It’s not as much of a ski resort as it is a recreational area that’s great for those wanting to try cross-country skiing. Managed by the USDA, Mt. Pinos has a handful of patrolled cross-country ski trails, the most popular being Chula Vista.
To ski here, you’ll need your own skis (you can rent some in LA at Summit Ski and Cycle) and a basic knowledge of how to do Nordic skiing before heading out here on your own.
You probably didn’t know that you can find winter sports in sunny Southern California, did you? Known as “Southern California’s closest winter resort,” Mountain High is truly the closest option for snowboarding and skiing near Los Angeles. Clocking in at just a 1.5-hour drive from Los Angeles, Southern Californians can easily visit Mountain High as a day trip from most areas nearby. (Yep, in theory, you could ski and surf on the very same day!)
At the resort, you can snowboard or ski down 59 total trails, the combination of three formerly separate resorts. The resort now consists of a variety of trails from first-time friendly hills to advanced and expert-level runs. While it’s not the largest on our list, Mountain High is one of the best ski resorts near Los Angeles for a quick and thrilling ski trip.
Where to Stay Near Mountain High
Nearby Hotels: There isn’t any on-site accommodation at Mountain High, but there are several convenient hotels and cabins nearby you can book for a multi-day trip. Grand Pine Cabins is the closest hotel to the ski resort and comes highly recommended by travelers.
Experience levels: Mostly intermediate and advanced
Snow Valley is yet another resort that’s close to home for Southern California dwellers – of the ski resorts near Los Angeles, this one is the best for intermediate and advanced snowboarders and skiers. Located high in the mountains of San Bernardino, CA, there’s a vertical drop of 4,558 feet from the top of the peak to the base, making for some seriously adrenaline inducing slopes!
There are just 28 trails in Snow Valley, with the majority rated as blue, black diamond, or double black diamond. While beginners can find a handful of solid trails here, the real draw is for skiers and snowboarders with a bit more experience. There are several offers and packages available throughout the season, so be sure to stay on the lookout if you’re planning on heading there soon.
Directions:Click here for directions to Snow Valley Resort.
Where to Stay Near Snow Valley
Nearby Hotels: There isn’t any on-site accommodation at Snow Valley, but there are several convenient hotels and cabins nearby you can book for a multi-day trip. Giant Oaks Lodge is the closest hotel to the resort and offers simple, homey log cabins for rent.
Vacation Rentals: There are plenty of vacation rentals near Snow Valley that can accommodate families and groups at affordable prices. This adorable, rustic cabin in Running Springs, CA is super affordable and sleeps up to 8, plus it’s just a few minutes from the resort.
Looking for a change of pace from the thrill of the ski slopes? Rim Nordic Ski Area offers a different experience – cross-country skiing through forested areas. On a visit here, there are several trails you can ski through for a completely different winter sports experience than many of the other resorts on this list.
Another advantage of Nordic skiing is that it typically tends to be cheaper than traditional downhill skiing due to the lack of lifts and expensive machinery. This means that you can ski for a full day at Rim Nordic for just $20! For beginners to Nordic skiing, there’s also a learn to ski package for just $48, including a 1-hour lesson, rentals, and admission to the park.
Directions:Click here for directions to Rim Nordic Ski Center.
Experience levels: Mostly intermediate, with some trails from beginner to expert
Big Bear is a small but mighty ski area that packs a punch among the places to go snowboarding and skiing near Los Angeles and Southern California. At just a 2-hour drive from Los Angeles, it’s accessible as a day trip or a weekend getaway, making it an appealing choice of ski resorts near LA for those living in Southern California.
At Big Bear, the majority of runs are rated as blue, or intermediate level. However, there are a handful of trails in the beginner, advanced, and expert categories.
Directions:Click here for directions to Big Bear Mountain Resort.
Experience levels: Mostly intermediate, with some from beginner to expert level
As the sister resort to Big Bear, Snow Summit isn’t far from its flagship resort, and has its own unique array of trails and slopes to explore. It, too, caters largely to intermediate-level skiers, with nearly 50% of its trails rated in the blue category. However, it can also be a fantastic place for beginners who want to try out some more intermediate terrain in a friendly and beautiful environment.
According to the Big Bear website, Snow Summit is meant to offer a “traditional alpine atmosphere with a great deal of intermediate terrain and mainstream cruising for skiers and snowboarders.” You may just have to try out both (all lift tickets are good for both resorts) and see for yourself which one you like best!
Directions:Click here for directions to Snow Summit.
If you’re looking for the full “ski trip” experience, look no further than Mammoth Mountain. This ski resort and ski town combination make for a fabulous family-friendly snowboard and ski combination that’s about a 5 hour drive from Los Angeles. There are a whopping 154 runs in the resort, ranging from bunny hills and learning areas to double black diamond expert terrain.
Here at Mammoth Mountain, there’s an atmosphere that’s totally welcoming and supportive of beginners, which means you’re in luck as a first-timer, with plenty of daily ski lessons and gear rentals available. The vast majority of trails here are beginner to intermediate level, but there are a handful marked as advanced and expert for more experienced skiers.
Directions:Click here to get directions to Mammoth Mountain.
Mammoth Mountain’s sister resort is a California favorite: June Mountain. Slightly farther from LA than its sibling, June Mountain caters a bit more to the intermediate and advanced crowds, with the majority of trails falling into these two categories. It’s also much smaller than its Mammoth counterpart, with just 41 runs. While it’s not the closest place to go skiing near Los Angeles, it’s certainly a crowd favorite.
While there are beginner learn to ski programs at June Mountain, the resort definitely attracts a more experienced crowd. According to past visitors, it’s also significantly less crowded than some of the bigger resorts in the area, making for a much calmer and more fun winter getaway experience.
Directions: Click here to get directions to June Mountain.
Other Amazing Ski Resorts Near Southern California
While these ski resorts aren’t as close to LA or Southern California as the first ones on this list, we felt them worth including because they’re both located in Lake Tahoe, which is simply an incredible place to snowboard and ski.
Experience levels: Mostly intermediate to advanced, with trails for all levels
As a Northern California gem, Kirkwood Ski Resort is a gorgeous, evergreen-laden ski area that has something for every level of skier or snowboarder. Located south of Lake Tahoe, it’s one of many ski resorts in the area that offers a mix of thrilling, challenging terrain and family-friendly ski opportunities. While it’s a somewhat popular spot for California skiers and snowboarders, it’s well worth the trek from Southern California if you’re seeking challenging terrain in a beautiful spot.
Kirkwood’s trails largely consist of intermediate and advanced runs, but there are 86 total runs that span from beginner hills to expert-level terrain parks. As part of the Epic Pass program, passholders can get admission to Kirkwood’s ski areas included in their membership.
Directions:Click here for directions to Kirkwood Ski Resort.
With its 100 trails, Northstar California is a large, family-friendly resort on the shores of Lake Tahoe that’s a fabulous winter getaway spot. A whopping 60% of the resort’s trails are rated intermediate, meaning it’s a fantastic place for beginner skiers to start tackling tougher terrain or for more experienced skiers to get more runs under their belt. Northstar is also part of the Epic Pass network, so if you’re a passholder, you’re in luck!
For non-skiers, there’s also tubing, ice skating, and a full set of resort amenities, including a spa and several dining options. We personally enjoyed the dining options around the ski resort – the poutine at the french fry food truck is to die for.
Directions:Click here for directions to Northstar California Resort.
Thermal layers – Thermal baselayers are absolutely critical for a smooth skiing experience, as these will keep you warm and dry underneath your outerwear. The best kinds of thermal baselayers are made of Merino wool, which is moisture-wicking and comfortable. Our favorite brand of thermal layers is SmartWool – their tops and leggings are soft, lightweight, but warm and durable for all kinds of outdoor activities, including skiing. Click here to shop thermal tops and leggings and compare prices.
Ski goggles – No ski trip packing list would be complete without a pair of fog-resistant ski goggles, especially if you’re going somewhere that makes artificial snow. Ski slopes often have snow blowing into the air several times a day and it can be hard to keep freezing snowflakes out of your eyes, even during clear days. We use and recommendthese ski goggles. However, you can shop ski goggles and compare reviews/prices here.
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive list of things to pack, head to our Ultimate Ski Trip Packing List to view our full packing list and gear recommendations for the slopes!
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