Southern California is the rare place where you can go skiing all day and be sitting in the lineup for a surf session before sunset. Just a couple hours outside of Los Angeles, in the surprisingly high and rugged San Bernardino mountains, is Bear Mountain ski resort. Draped over three separate peaks, with 750 skiable acres, the highest lift-served summit in SoCal — nearly 9,000 feet — benefits from cold and dry Santa Ana winds. With 12 lifts and 29 runs, carvers have plenty of steep shots from the top; there's fun, airy tree skiing thanks to a recent bark beetle problem; and the canyons between mountains hold sneaky un-groomed stashes for days. But Bear Mountain is best known for its award-winning terrain parks and half pipes, catering to a huge surf and skate crowd. Lift tickets are $79 (also good for sister resort Snow Summit down the road); January is "learn to ski and ride month" when a rental, lesson, and lift ticket package is $99.
Where to Stay: It's better to base yourself close to the action in the revamped village than near the mountain. Robin Hood Resort is walking distance from the fun bars and restaurants, and just a short drive or shuttle from the resort.
Insider Tip: The perfect day is catching the morning sun at Bear Mountain; moving on to Snow Summit for afternoon light, lake views, and a great sunset; then ending your day with night session at the park.
SNOW REPORT: Where to Ski Now in California