Best Place for First Time Snow Skiing in Los Angeles
Jason Daniel Shaw
Snow skiing is not something that you typically think of when you think of sunny southern California. However, we do have a few worthy options for a day or even weekend trip for those looking to ski without even getting on an airplane. Whether you are a back country, big powder skier or a brand new skier looking for a nice groomed run on a bluebird day, California has you covered. In this post, I will focus on the latter and give you some tips for visiting the best place to learn to ski in the Los Angeles area.
SNOW SKIING – LOS ANGELES
I learned to ski before I can remember but my wife Amanda grew up in Brazil and only recently saw snow falling for the first time. Thanks to Instagram, she has discovered the beautiful ski towns of the western United States such as Park City, Aspen, Steamboat Springs. I wanted her to be able to fully experience them before we started checking them off the travel list so it was time for her to learn to ski. I have been to Snow Valley, Big Bear and Mammoth but wanted to see what else was out there in southern California. So, we also considered Mt. High, Snow Summit and Mt. Baldy.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SKI RESORTS
- Mammoth Mountain – This is my favorite mountain in California outside of the Lake Tahoe area. For this one day trip, it was a little too far and a little more than we wanted to spend, in case Amanda didn’t like skiing.
- Mt. Baldy – Because of its location, Mt. Baldy doesn’t get as much snow as the other ski resorts and was actually closed the weekend that we decided to go.
- Big Bear – The best all-around mountain in the Los Angeles area and because of that it is often very crowded and the prices aren’t much better than Mammoth. Although the snow was better at Big Bear, we decided to find a cheaper place for her first ski experience.
- Snow Summit – Since it’s part of Bear Mountain, the same comments from above apply to Snow Summit as well.
- Snow Valley – Despite being a little closer than Big Bear, it is a little cheaper. They had a good bit of snow, similar to Mt. High.
- Mt. High – This was our choice for her first ski experience because it is close, the easiest to get to and the cost was the best deal. We also had quite a few options of places to stay in Wrightwood, just a few miles from the lifts.
MOUNTAIN HIGH – WRIGHTWOOD
The deal that we found for Mt. High was the “Bring a Friend” package. It included a full lift ticket for me, a lower mountain lift ticket for her, her rentals and a 1:45 lesson. All of that was $145. One tip that I would give is to arrive early because it does take some time to get fitted for the rentals, especially if it is your first time skiing, or even just your first time at a new mountain. Once she had her gear, it was off to the magic carpet to see how snow feels under the skis.
FIRST TIME SKIING – MOUNTAIN HIGH
We made a couple runs down the bunny hill to get her used to what it feels like so that once her lesson started she could make some quick progress. One additional tip is to make sure that your gear fits you well so that you can be as comfortable as possible. Her boots were a little too tight so she exchanged them and that made a world of difference after the first run. It was now time for her lesson. The teaching staff at Mt. High were incredible and really took their time to teach the fundamentals – something that I couldn’t even remember because it had been so long since I learned. After a while, it just comes natural and you have to really think about what you are doing to explain it to someone.
While Amanda was taking her lesson, I got the chance to explore the mountain. While it isn’t a big mountain, it definitely fulfills its purpose to get you on the slopes. Because we are in southern California and everyone is either a pro snow boarder or wants to be, almost every run has some sort of terrain park to have fun with. The mountain wasn’t too crowded and there is a good mix of trail types for all skill levels. My fear was that the snow would be icy but it wasn’t, although it was a bit slushy in parts. However, it was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the high 40s.
SKIING MT. HIGH
When I arrived back at the bottom of the mountain to meet up with Amanda, I was surprised to hear her call out from the chair lift. She was headed up the mountain for her first real run and experience with getting on and off of a lift. She did great! Her lesson was over and it was time for us to do a couple final runs before calling it a successful day. She said she hadn’t fallen yet and so I told her that she wasn’t trying hard enough. It wasn’t long after that that she ate her words. I missed that capturing that fall but did manage to get one a little later. At the end of the day, I was very proud of her for stepping out of her comfort zone and trying something new and doing quite well at it. I can’t wait for our next trip and for more epic trips.
We decided to drive up on Saturday so that we could spend some time exploring the area and also not have to get up super early to be at the slopes first thing. We found a great deal on a place to stay at Grand Pine Cabins. Our room was a rustic cabin that had a wood-burning fireplace in it. The town of Wrightwood is an amazing place to spend the weekend. We found some candy at the local sweet shop, had drinks in the “hotel lobby” with some locals and then grabbed some dinner with them at the local watering hole. It was really an awesome place with some incredibly friendly locals. If you get the chance to visit, please do, and tell them that Jason and Amanda sent you (they may remember us as the crazy couple that had their first date in Hawaii and wedding in Italy).