Southern California skiers and snowboarders have plenty to choose from within a couple hours' drive from the Los Angeles Basin into the coastal mountain range.
At Mountain High, skiing began in the 1940s and has expanded to three separate mountains -- East, West and North -- that split out nicely according to skill and type of terrain. The West Resort, now combined with neighbor East Resort, acts as the focus for the three resorts. But each has its own base facilities. Free shuttles run between West and East bases.
This season, skiers and riders will benefit from more snowmaking capacity (essential for a SoCal mountain), more features in the terrain park and renovations to the Foggy Goggle Bar at the West Resort base.
Mountain High is a Powder Alliance member and accepts the two-day-free Indy Pass. Night skiing on 85% of West Resort goes until 10 p.m. every evening at West Resort, with tubing park at North Resort. Parking can be an issue. There is on free parking lot, at the West Resort, but all the others cost $20 per vehicle.
Head to northeast into the San Bernardino mountains to find a longtime favorite of SoCal's skiers and 'boarders, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. Under the moniker of Big Bear Mountain Resorts, the two mountains sit separately above Big Bear Lake, but you only need one ticket or an Ikon Pass, to ski and ride both.
This season, a multi-year renovation of the Bear Mountain base has produced an upgraded Laybacks Bar, a more convenient layout for the rental shop, and additional parking. Bear's 1,665 vertical drop serves a couple of long blacks, but the emphasis is on terrain parks. More than 200 features spread around the 200-acre mountain, plus a pair of halfpipes. The mountain's huge learning area focuses on getting never-evers up and onto the slopes, while progressive parks aim to step up freestylers' game.
Partner mountain Snow Summit is a couple of miles down the road, and emphasizes intermediate and advanced terrain with a double-blacks and a bevy of wide-open groomers. Fourteen lifts cover the mountains 240 acres, with two high-speed chairs to the 8,000-foot-high ridgeline. Night skiing at Snow Summit runs weekends and holidays.