'Tis the season to trade in surfboards for snowboards, wetsuits for snow pants. Living in San Diego doesn't let us get too lazy for too long, considering we have an ample amount of snow resorts and ski getaways within a stone's throw. Winter sports are arguably the fun cousin of our sunshiney water activities that we partake in throughout the year. Thankfully, local mountains and distant snowy escapes are abundant and priced for everyone's interests.
Snow resorts aren't just for the athletically skilled anymore, either. Head to one of the top resorts for parties, family days and cozy cabin lodging. Whether snowboarding the slopes with friends or making snow angels with the kids, discover your local winter wonderland escape at these nearby mountains and snow parks.
Mammoth Mountain: Mammoth has made a name for itself as one of the largest wintery playgrounds in Southern California for playing and staying. With 150 trails, 3,100 feet of vertical and 3,500 acres of terrain, Mammoth Mountain offers slopes for all levels of expertise. Hop on the panorama gondola and from 11,053 feet in the air, you'll be on the highest lift-serviced peak in California. If you're still unsure of the snow, Mammoth offers private or group classes with knowledgeable instructors.
Tickets: $79 per day for adults, when you purchase a three-day lift ticket 14 days in advance. Regular day tickets are available for $99. Beginner tickets can be purchased for $57 for adults, $45 for youth and $49 for seniors, only valid on chairs 11, 15, 7 and 17. For more information, visit mammothmountain.com.
Bear Mountain Resort: Bear Mountain is a central hub for snowboarders and skiers in SoCal. The snow resort proudly offers skiers and snowboarders almost 1,700 vertical feet of top-to-bottom terrain spanning four mountain peaks and encompassing several perfectly groomed and powder-packed runs. You'll find all levels at Bear Mountain including the 200-acre Freestyle Park where you can test your skills on Southern California's only Superpipe, as well as the huge variety of rails, wall rides, boxes, s-turns, spines and many other custom creations. Bear Mountain's Skill Builder Park terrain provides the laid back learning environment with basic and larger rollers.
Tickets: $59 per day for adults, $49 for a half-day, $33 for the night and $23 for a half-night. Even better, your Big Bear lift ticket is good over at its sister mountain, Snow Summit. Season passes that allow access to both Snow Mountain and Bear Mountain anytime for adults 22 and up are $799. Season pass holders can use a single pass to access two full-service resorts, offering 26 lifts, 438 developed acres, over 55 runs and the most amazing collection of parks, pipes and rails around.
Big Bear Mountain Resort is located at 880 Summit Blvd. in Big Bear Lake - approximately 3 hrs from downtown San Diego. For more information, please visit bearmountain.com.
Mountain High: Mountain High is the closest major mountain resort to San Diego for your extreme sports and family fun. Mountain High boasts three separate resorts with a total of 14 lifts featuring two high speed quads, two quad chairlifts, two triple chairlifts, five double chairlifts and three moving carpets.
Tickets: Mountain High offers two types of lift tickets: the Flex Ticket, starting at $59, available in any 4 or 8-hour block of time and the Point Ticket, which lets you choose the number of runs you wish to take per day and is sold in point blocks of 200 for $59, 500 for $139 or 1,000 for $199. Season passes are available at $699 for adults, anytime, any day or night this season including holidays.
Extras: If skiing or snowboarding just isn't your forte, head over to the North Resort for another kind of fun. The North Pole Tubing Park is the largest tubing facility in Southern California with up to seven lanes, two moving carpets and custom tubes. Tubing tickets cost $20 for two hours and $35 for the whole day.
Mountain High is located approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes from downtown San Diego. For more information, please visit mthigh.com.
Snow Summit: The sister resort to Bear Mountain - Snow Summit - boasts one of the highest ratios of snowboarders to skiers in the world. Snow Summit is conveniently located in the Big Bear Lake area of the San Bernardino National Forest, and is only a few hours' drive from Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego County. Snow Summit features 14 lifts and 240 skiable acres incorporating 31 trails.
Tickets: Lift tickets for Snow Summit's regular season currently run at $59 for a day, $49 for a half-day, $33 for a night and $23 for a half-night. The 2012-2013 dual mountain season pass is valid at both Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. Get access to 26 lifts, 438 developed acres, over 55 runs and the most amazing collection of parks, pipes and rails around, anytime, for $799. For more information, please visit snowsummit.com.
Snow Valley: Located at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains, this 130-mile drive is well worth a trip to the snow. Boasting four lifts, 19 trails and a packed powder surface, Snow Valley has something for every level of skier and boarder.
Tickets: Holiday lift ticket prices start at $57 for an all-day trek, $47 for a half-day and $29 if you're looking for a nighttime ride. Anytime Season Passes for adults are priced at $389. Not ready to jump the gun and test out your boarding skills? If you're looking for a different kind of winter adventure, check out the Snow Play area for some thrilling downhill sledding and tubing, or send the youngsters over to the Mini Snowmobile Park. For more information, visit snow-valley.com.
Mt. Waterman: Located a short drive from Los Angeles, Mount Waterman is Southern California's oldest ski and snowboard lift. Mt. Waterman boasts a variety of wide open beginner and intermediate runs as well as some of the most challenging expert terrains available. If you're a novice boarder or skier, take a lesson with one of the certified instructors in the newly expanded beginner's area. If you're a pro, then Mt. Waterman's all new grooming equipment and increased ski area is the perfect place for you this winter season.
Tickets: Full day tickets cost $50 and half-day lift tickets cost $40 for adults. If you're serious about boarding, get your hands on a 2012-2013 season pass for only $300 and $100 for kids. For more information, visit mtwaterman.org.
Mt. Baldy: Dubbed as "Southern California's Best Kept Secret," Mt. Baldy is accessible to all levels of skiing and boarding from the very beginner to the steepest vertical drop in Southern California. Mt. Baldy offers skiing, snowboarding, tubing, snow play and scenic chair rides.
Tickets: Full day tickets are priced at $69 for adults and half-day tickets are priced at $49. Mt. Baldy is located approximately two hours and 30 minutes from downtown San Diego. For more information, please visit mtbaldy.com.
You can also spot snow at Palomar Mountain, Mount Laguna and Julian.