The promise of fresh snow brings visitors in their droves to Bear Valley. Some people, you can tell, have more experience than others in anticipating conditions and planning for their day. Too often we see shivering kids and disappointed parents heading back home early. It makes me so sad as some of those people may never come back, remembering only being cold and uncomfortable or having spent too much money for a less than stellar experience.

So even if you just want to build a snowman and do some sledding, a little planning can go a long way in making your day as fun as possible!

1) Dress for the season. Even in the height of summer, bad weather can hit at any time at these high elevations. In winter make sure everyone has warm waterproof layers, changes of socks, base layers, gloves, hats and sunglasses or goggles. These can be pricey if you buy them new, but you can outfit your family nowadays from stores like Walmart or thrift stores or swap meets. Remember to layer as well – on sunny days a light jacket, gloves and a hat may be all required. The right gear makes all the difference!

2) Ski Trip planned? Think ahead…. Firstly, make sure you have your reservations in early if you want to book into a lesson. Lessons packages are great value and include a lift ticket and gear. They cater from the nervous first timer all the way to competitive race teams! The children’s program is especially good – but focused on fun, so if you want your tot to get the skills to be shredding sooner rather than later, a private lesson would be suggested. Advance tickets can be bought online from the resort and from liftopia.com. The downside is that advance bookings are usually non refundable, so be sure you are coming to avoid being out of pocket. Conditions change a lot and that impacts which chairs and terrain is open. If you have your heart set on riding particular terrain, check before you arrive, but mother nature can be fickle!

3) You will be hungry! ..and food is expensive. The nature of resort pricing means that buying lunch for a large family at the ski area involves a lot of sticker shock, but there are areas for families to sit if they bring their own lunch in, or a few places to purchase sandwiches etc down at the lodge. There are a few amazing tailgating spots where groups sit with fold up chairs and coolers and watch the mountain – great in Spring!

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