You can still find snow on these slopes near L.A.

Residents and visitors walk the shore of Big Bear Lake after the first big storm of the year in December.
Residents and visitors walk the shore of Big Bear Lake after the first big storm of the year in December.
(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

Southern California snow has been modest this winter, but there’s enough left from the storms of late December — and snowmaking — to keep some people skiing, boarding and sledding on several mountains in the San Bernardinos, the San Gabriels, the San Jacintos and the Transverse Ranges.

The snow base is 24 to 36 inches deep on the slopes of the Big Bear area and Mountain High in Wrightwood.

Before you head for the mountains, however, bear in mind that state officials have forbidden overnight leisure travel stays, whether in hotels and short-term rental properties.

They’re also urging against trips of more than 120 miles, which puts Mammoth Mountain (314 miles north of L.A. City Hall) out of bounds.


Also, the Angeles Crest Highway, gateway to many San Gabriel Mountains destinations, is closed in multiple spots for wildfire cleanup. Mt. Waterman, a small, ski area along that highway, remains closed.

Before any winter mountain trip, check weather conditions and/or make sure you have chains in the car. Also, as part of COVID-19 prevention measures, these resorts all require advance reservations for lift tickets.

Here are some snow possibilities, all within 100 miles of L.A. City Hall:

Other areas that often get winter snows:

  • Idyllwild is about 110 miles southeast of L.A. in the San Jacinto Mountains. It’s popular with hikers, rock climbers, mountain bikers, artists and families connected with Idyllwild Arts Academy. There’s no ski resort, but there are plenty of cabins and inns and many restaurants. The community (about 5,400 feet) is neighbored by Pine Cove and Fern Valley.
  • Mt. Pinos, near Tehachapi Pass, stands about 90 miles northwest of L.A. To get there, exit Interstate 5 at Frazier Park, follow Cuddy Valley Road to the Chula Vista Campground and the neighboring Chula Vista Trailhead and Mt. Pinos Campground, all part of Los Padres National Forest, all prime spots for snow play and sledding. These mountains are known as the Transverse Ranges.
  • The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is closed after briefly reopening in October at 25% capacity. Officials say no reopening date has been set. When that time comes, the tramway’s cars will resume carrying passengers on a 10-minute trip from the desert floor to the frequently snowy high country of Mt. San Jacinto State Park. The top is 8,516 feet above sea level, with wide views and miles of trails.