Bear Mountain is a ski attraction in the San Bernardino National Forest, located at Big Bear Lake and some two miles from its partner resort Snow Summit. You will find both locations referred to under the “umbrella” Big Bear Mountain Resorts.
The area around Big Bear Lake, including Bear Mountain, was once known for gold and not tourism. The largest gold rush in California is said to have happened here around 1855. Those hoping to cash in panning or mining for gold soon found an area north of Big Bear, Holcomb Valley, to try their luck.
That area briefly became the most populated place in the county, but today that area has practically nobody living there full-time. Bear Mountain, on the other hand, has made quite a name for itself.
Once known as Goldmine Mountain, the facility we know today as Bear Mountain opened in 1969. Snow Summit and Goldmine operated in competition with one another, but changes were coming. In 1988 the resort was rebranded as Bear Mountain when Goldmine was acquired by S.K.I. and became a hot property in the 1990s for freestyle snowboarders and skiers.
In 2002, Snow Summit took over Bear Mountain and began development of the resort and a reciprocal ticketing agreement between the two destinations. Bear Mountain continued to earn a reputation as a destination for snowboarders, while Snow Summit focused its efforts on catering more to the ski set.
Circa 2019, Bear Mountain began a $5 million upgrade including improvements to the ticket plaza, upgrades to the rental shop and bar, and more. COVID-19 interfered with the original deadlines for the project but in 2022 an update was announced including a fully paved pathway from the base camp to the Bear Mountain Adventure Academy.
Bear Mountain Features
Bear Mountain has three peaks: Bear Peak, Silver Mountain, and Goldmine Mountain. This area is said to get roughly 100 inches of snow a year and the facility depends on artificial snow to operate. This is true of many ski resorts in SoCal.
|Base Elevation||7,140 ft/2,176 m|
|Peak Elevation||8,805 ft/2,683 m|
|Vertical Drop||1,665 ft/507 m|
|Undeveloped/Natural Terrain Acres||550|
|Longest Run||1.5 mi/2.4 km|
One thing some California outsiders learn to get used to–Bear Mountain, like many resorts in the area, has a summer season and a winter season. Skiing isn’t available in summer, but outdoor adventures, golf, zip line activities and related outdoorsy options are a big draw in the warmer months.
One thing to remember about Bear Mountain and Snow Summit; you will definitely want to use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or better no matter what the season, sun exposure that day, etc. Ultraviolet light exposure increases by two percent for every 1,000 feet above sea level. Don’t come to Bear Mountain without sunscreen!
|Difficulty Breakdown||Bear Mountain|
Big Bear Runs & Sections
- Geronimo – Double Black Diamond
- Learning Curve – Easier
- Accelerator – More Difficult
- Easy Street – Easier
- Inspiration – Easier
- The Wedge – Double Black Diamond
- Ripcord – More Difficult
- Exhibition – Black Diamond
- Amusement Park – Easier
- Central Park – More Difficult
- Silver Connection – More Difficult
- Boneyard – More Difficult
- Expressway – More Difficult
- Grizzly – Black Diamond
- Hidden Valley – More Difficult
- Pipeline – More Difficult
- T.J.s Halfpipe
- 18′ Modified Pipe
- Backdoors – Easier
- The Gulch – Easier
- Rip’s Run – Black Diamond
- Park Run (Upper) – More Difficult
- Park Run (Face) – More Difficult
- Park Run (Lower) – Easier
- Outlaw’s Alley – More Difficult
- Outlaw – Black Diamond
- Street Scene – More Difficult
- Gambler – Black Diamond
Booking in advance is a great way to experience Bear Mountain. Call 844.GO2.BEAR (462.2327) as doing so may provide you with a more competitive rate on lift tickets and better access to gear rental.
To use Bear Mountain, you must have either a lift ticket or a season pass to take part in “on-hill” attractions. The official site reminds, “a valid season pass or lift ticket is required even if the activity does not require using the chairlifts.”
You do not need your own skis or snowboard to use Bear Mountain, thanks to the equipment rental facilities there. You can rent skis, boards, boots, and helmets. There are private and group lesson opportunities at Bear Mountain, so no need to worry if you have people in your group who don’t know how to ski or snowboard…yet.
When booking lessons, it’s good to know your reservation does not include lift tickets or gear rental–if you need these, be sure to include them in your reservation by adding these extras to your online shopping cart or mentioning that you need them when calling in a reservation.
If you book equipment to rent at Bear Mountain, booking seven days in advance earns you 20% off your rental. Military members and their families may save up to 25% or lift tickets with proper ID.
Winter season at Bear Mountain is all about snow tubing, snowboarding, and skiing. There is also an outdoor bar. Lift tickets, golf course tickets, and season tickets for the ski slopes are all available. Depending on the timing of your visit there may be family-friendly activities in the Base Camp including climbing walls, bike park treks, and more. In winter you’ll find Bear Mountain to be a draw for the younger crowd; snowboarders will find much to love.
Snow Summit during this time is more oriented toward the traditional ski crowd.
Summer at Bear Mountain means hiking, golfing, tubing, biking, zip lines, and rides in the Scenic SkyChair. Bear Mountain’s outdoor adventures also feature reciprocal ticketing at Snow Summit, which features 50 miles of mountain trails you can ride in the warmer months; you can ride the Scenic Sky Chair there, too for breathtaking views great for sharing on social media.
880 Summit Blvd, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
43101 Goldmine Drive, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Bear Mountain IG: https://www.instagram.com/bear_mountain/
Bear Mountain FB: https://www.facebook.com/bigbearmountainresort/
Bear Mountain Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigbearmtresort
Hours of operation depend greatly on the season, the attraction you have tickets for, and other variables. Some operations may be suspended due to response to wildfires or other public emergencies; it is best to call ahead to see what may be available on the day of your visit.
If you made reservations and need to cancel, you must use the Bear Mountain Refund Request Form which is available on the official site. Changing, but not canceling a reservation must be done by phone at 844.GO2.BEAR.
Bear Mountain cancellation policy includes full refunds for cancellations made up to three full days before your dates. If you cancel within three days of the reservation, you are offered an “Activity Change Voucher” for the full value of the activity cost. Same day cancellations or changes result in forfeiture of your entire payment.
|Big Bear||Snow Summit|
|Lake Arrowhead||Skypark At Santa’s Village|
|Southern California Winter Vacation Ideas||Wrightwood, California|
Joe Wallace has been covering real estate, mortgage and financial topics since 1995. His work has appeared on ABC, The Pentagon Channel, Veteran.com plus a variety of print and online publications. He is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News.