Which slopes will you choose?: A guide to the best skii resorts in California

(Roger Phillips/Idaho Statesman/MCT)

With 21 of California’s 29 ski resorts currently open, now is the perfect time to partake in winter sports. Although this winter has not been as cold as it was in previous years (with the average base depth of snow four feet less than last January’s) there is still an adequate amount of snow to go skiing, snowboarding or tubing. There are three snow resorts that offer low prices, convenience and ideal skiing or snowboarding conditions. Here is a guide for finding the perfect snow resort location for you.Snow Valley– Snow Valley is located in the San Bernardino Mountains and is a great destination to go skiing or snowboarding. The drive from Irvine is approximately an hour and a half. The rentals for the adult ski package and snowboard package are both $30 for the day, and the lift tickets are $47 for half a day and $57 for the whole day. The ski/snowboard packages include the board, skis and boots. For those who ski or snowboard frequently, the season passes cost $329. The current base depth at Snow Valley is twelve inches, and the surface is machine-made packed powder. The average snowfall for the 2013-2014 year at the resort is 20 to 25 inches, which is plenty of snow to ski or snowboard. Most of the black diamonds and double black diamonds (slopes for more advanced skiers) are closed at this resort, so this location is more suitable for beginners and intermediates. Unlike many other resorts, such as Mountain High, this resort is less populated so it allows you to efficiently get past ticket levels and lifts in a timely manner.
Bear Mountain– Situated in Big Bear Lake, Bear Mountain is the ideal place to go for convenient and scenic skiing or snowboarding. Unlike Snow Valley, Bear Mountain offers a wider range of slopes. Whether you are a beginner or a professional, there is a substantial amount of slopes and lifts to keep you entertained. The snow depth at this resort is currently 12 to 24 inches with hard packed snow that softens later in the day. The snow conditions are extremely suitable for skiing and snowboarding. The lift tickets for half a day are $50 and $60 for the whole day, which is pretty close to the prices of other resorts. For frequent skiers or snowboarders, the season passes are $299. For first timers, lessons range from $70-$90. Bear Mountain is roughly a two hour drive from Irvine. Even though the resort is slightly further away and the prices are higher than Snow Valley’s, there are more snow and more slopes at Bear Mountain. Whether you are a professional or a beginner, Bear Mountain is the perfect place to go.
Mountain High-As the closest winter resort in California, Mountain High is the perfect place to get a quick ski or snowboard session in over the weekend. The drive from Irvine is a little less than 75 minutes. The resort is fairly small, so it can get easily packed, making it uncomfortable to ski. The prices for Mountain High are fairly high with a four hour lift ticket at $54 and an eight hour ticket at $59. However, if it is your birthday, just present identification and you qualify for a free lift ticket. The daily rentals for skis are $30 and $35 for snowboards. Mountain High also offers a $139 3-Peat for Success course for beginners, which includes an hour and 45 minutes skiing or snowboarding lesson with rentals and lift ticket. The 3-Peat for Success course is a three day course that does not have to be consecutive. Also, the resort has a machine groomed surface and a 19 inches total season snowfall. The snow ranges from eight to 18 inches in depth and is mostly natural snow. Based on personal experience, I would say that Mountain High is a convenient place because of the easy drive and is a great place to start for beginners.
Although there are many other resorts in California, the resorts listed above are the closest and most convenient places to go for winter sporting. The conditions are not the best this season, but there is still an adequate amount of snow to have fun snowboarding or skiing not too far from home.
Staff Writer