WINTER IN BEAR VALLEY
Homeowners, vacationers, and day-trippers come to take advantage of the epic skiing and to play in one of the most beautiful and unique winter environments in California. We are known as the friendliest mountain in the west. Making friends with your neighbors is one of the unsung delights of owning a property in Bear Valley and the surrounding communities.
California’s 6th largest ski area, Bear Valley Mountain Resort offers a total of ten lifts (including 2 high-speed lifts) and 75+ trails across 1680 ski-able acres with a 1900′ vertical drop! 25% of trails are beginner difficulty, 40% are intermediate and 35% are advanced or higher. Breathtaking scenery 360 degrees! Bear Valley has invested heavily in snow guns, ensuring long snow seasons, even if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.
It is a family resort, with an excellent children’s learning center (The Cub Club) and an ever-growing youth team group where they learn confidence, skills, and friendship. Kids learn all-mountain skills or can join the competitive race team. Go Bear Valley!
The closest major ski resort to the Bay Area, Bear Valley’s Central Sierra location and 8,500-foot summit provide some of the lightest powder and deepest snowpacks in all of California. If you want current, contemporary rails, boxes and huge air jumps, Bear Valley offers several terrain parks, sculpted and maintained by dedicated competitors.
For the more advanced skiers and boarders, Bear Valley’s famed Grizzly Bowl and Snow Valley has enough cliffs, chutes, and steeps to keep even the best occupied. This terrain is among some of the best in the world!
Bear Valley Cross-Country offers one of the largest groomed trail systems in the country! There is an extensive trail system of over 3,000 acres. Amenities include 38 trails carefully groomed for track and skate skiing and snowshoeing, the trailside Meadow Cafe, 4 trailside huts, picnic tables, park benches, two kids’ ski trails, a waxing hut, groomed downhill practice area, and both a sledding and tubing facility. The elevation of 7,000 to 7,800 feet guarantees first to open (usually mid-November) and last to close (usually mid-April) status among Sierra cross country centers. Sno-Park permits are also available at the cross-country ski center.
Bear Valley is the site of several annual ski races including the infamous Bjornloppet race which attracts everyone from beginner to expert racers each year. Bear Valley breeds cross country competitors. Olympians and other ranked racers have called Bear Valley home to train on the impeccably groomed trail system. Extensive backcountry cross-country and snowmobile trails can also be found three miles above Bear Valley at the Lake Alpine Sno-Park area.
Bear Valley is a snowbound town in winter, so many locals use snowmobiles to get to and from their homes. Roads get packed 20 feet high some years! But the real fun is outside of town…
The Bear Valley area boasts some of the most incredible snowmobiling terrains in the entire state. Highway 4 is closed to cars in the winter just past the Bear Valley ski area and the trail is maintained by Bear Valley Snowmobile who routinely snowcat grooms for snowmobiles for 26 miles into the High Country. There are groomed trails that lead right from the Bear Valley Village to Lake Alpine. Eventually, the trail ends at Highland Lakes on the Pacific Crest at elevations approaching 10,000 ft.
The public can rent snowmobiles to use on this highway width snow road system from Bear Valley Snowmobile right in town. If you have your own machines a Sno-Park permit for your vehicle must be obtained for parking and is available in Bear Valley. The Stanislaus National Forest does not allow ATVs and snowmobiles in specified areas, and there are also wilderness areas that restrict motorized use.
The Bear Valley/Lake Alpine area is the only area in California where you can rent snowmobiles and go on an unguided adventure.
Locals ride snowmobiles into the deep High Country to gain access for backcountry skiing and snowboarding. Please stop by Bear Valley Snow Mobile for a map. Respect non-motorized Wilderness areas and obey speed limits were posted through town and the Lake Alpine area. Be aware of avalanche dangers when traveling off the groomed snow highway. Snowmobiling is a fun sport for the whole family, but there are risks. No underage drivers, no DUI’s, wear a helmet and know before you go.
Sledding and Tubing
How brave are you? Bear Valley Ski Resort and Bear Valley Cross Country both offer supervised sledding in the winter months. There is a fee, but you don’t need to bring any equipment. Then again, if you bring your own (Or get some from the Bear Valley Adventure Company) you can head out into the Stanislaus National Forest (which is your backyard after all!). Pick your hill and hang on! Nothing quite beats sledding in fresh powder.
Back Country Adventures
Feeling a little more adventurous? California Ski and Rock Guides (previously Mountain Adventure Seminars) are some of the leading experts on privately led tours. From an Avalanche awareness course on skis, personal guides down backcountry ski terrain (experts only!!). They also do snowshoe adventures and ice ax climbing!