Even when the rain is scarce is Southern California, modern day technology on Big Bear Mountain provides fresh man-man snow for sports revelers. Southern California normally gets two to three major winter storms in the wintertime that provide the local San Gabriel mountains with snow. This base of snow is called a snow pack. A good snow pack for winter sports is around thirty inches. After that, local resorts such as Snow Summit, Bear Mountain, and Snow Valley make their own snow to put on top of the snow pack. This "new" man-made snow provides skiers and snowborders with a nice fresh layer of snow and limits the ice. Normally snowboarding/ski season lasts about 3 to 4 months starting in January and ending in April. The best months to go are January and February.
Wait your turn in Line--No Cutting!
First come, first up the slopes. That is the way it works here on the slopes of Big Bear. In order to get to those awesome runs at the very top of the mountain, a chair lift is needed. There are many people that use these chair lifts and everybody waits in line for their turn to ride. If you are a cutter, then you will find yourself expelled from the slopes by the local resort employees. The moral of the story is to wait your turn in line. But don't worry, service at the chair lifts is good and the lines go quick.
If you plan on simply staying in the small city itself, bring luggage. But if you're one of those adventerous types, bring one of those huge wanna-be mountain-climber backpacks that reach from your head to knee-level so you can play Mr. or Mrs. 'Survivor' while hiking out in the woods. Or you can bring a small backpack if you don't have those 'illusions of grandeur' and plan on staying the night at a hotel in the city. But if it's winter, try to bring something waterproof for the snow. In the summertime, bring maybe a light jacket and pants or shorts as the temperature usually isn't lower than 65 or 70 degrees Farenheit. But in the spring, fall, and especially winter months, bring warmer clothing. Preferably a heavy coat and long pants. In the winter it can snow 3 or 4 feet and, very very rarely, even up to 6 feet! Unless you want to adorn the display window of a novelty shop as the first human icicle in Big Bear, bring all necessary winter gear to keep nice and toasty warm The hiker's best friend--toilet paper! Also, if you're going to be out in the woods, bring some sort of first-aid kit. It doesn't have to eb a miniture hospital in a box, just enough to treat injuries that might result from falling or minor insect bites. One caution though, rattelsnakes, although rare, can be found out in the woods in teh warmer months (April-August) so bring along a snake-bite kit just in case. Bring a good sturdy tent and all the camping essentials that you might deem necessary. There's paved roads leading to some campground sites, but the best campgrounds are the ones you can only reach by dirt roads. These roads aren't too bad to navigate by Four-Wheel-Drive, but I'm not too sure about a motor home. Gasp! Wouldn't it be sad if your giant 50 grand motor home ended up at the bottom of a ravine? What a tragedy! You might want to bring a pair of binoculars to see far off animals such as deer or eagles and falcons. It isn't often that you'll be lucky enough to encounter some of the more retiring wildlife, but you never know. I've seen deer, wild rabbits, eagles, racoons and coyotes (at night), and even once the EXTREMELY rare black bear. He was rummaging through the trash at my former home in Arrowbear (which is about 7 miles from Big Bear).
Snowboarding is the Thing to Do
Snowboarding is perhaps the greatest winter sport ever invented. About the coolest thing to do in Southern California is to go snowboarding. Everyone always thinks of Los Angeles with sunny skies and 73 degrees all year long. That is a good myth but there are also a nice amount of cool times in the winter on our local mountains. Positives include a good majority of sunny skies while snowboarding and nice fresh man-made powder to sprinkle over it. The Big Bear Lake area ranges in altitude from 6750 feet to 9000 feet above sea level and that makes it the perfect altitude to create a descent snow pack. So when it rains intermittently during winter season on our local San Gabriel Mountains, ski season begins or for us. Or for us snow-boarders it signals boarding season. Snow Summit and Bear Mountain take the cake for the best lifts in the area although others, such as Mountain High and Snow Valley, have something to offer. Either bring your own snowboard, helmet, UV goggles, snow pants, and boots or rent them at a number of places in Big Bear City.
Ski in Southern California!
Perhaps the best mountain to visit during skiing/snowboarding season is Big Bear. Out of all the San Gabriel mountains in the Southland, Big Bear has the best and most extensive runs. Big Bear provides Southern Californians and others who have heard about this mountain, with a great place to practice winter sports. There are a nice number of places one can ski or snowboard on Big Bear. The most prominent skiing places with chair lifts are Mountain High and Snow Valley. Either bring your own equipment or rent near the slopes.