Snow Summit is a ski resort in the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California. It began operations in 1952 and is one of two resorts operating under the same company, Big Bear Mountain Resorts or BBMR. Snow Summit is one of the most popular sites for snowboarding and skiing in the area and features roughly 240 acres of ski-accessible terrain.
Newcomers to Snow Summit, Big Bear Lake, and Bear Mountain may experience a bit of initial confusion. Over several decades, Snow Summit and another recreation company called Goldmine Mountain co-existed about two miles apart from one another.
In 1988, the Goldmine operation was purchased by a company called S.K.I. which began positioning itself as a major competitor to Snow Summit. Part of that effort was rebranding; Bear Mountain was born, but its plans to compete with Snow Summit didn’t go quite as expected; in 2002 Snow Summit purchased its rival and the two companies merged.
In 2014, a company called Mammoth Mountain purchased both Snow Summit and Bear Mountain, and three years later it changed hands again, this time purchased by the Alterra Mountain Company.
Today, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain don’t compete, they cooperate. You can use tickets purchased at one location to access the other, and there is free transportation between Snow Summit and Bear Mountain.
Of the two, Snow Summit is thought to be the more family-friendly (and possibly more beginner-friendly for skiers and snowboarders) of the two options.
Some are confused by Snow Summit–it’s part of a resort that does not feature a hotel. Big Bear Mountain Resorts, the company operating Snow Summit, does not operate a hotel in the area but there are plenty of options off-site.
Booking a cabin, a hotel, or other options is tricky if you are booking last-minute. The official site advises visitors to book as early as possible, stating that some book their winter lodging as early as the summer prior.
Snow Summit does not close when the skiing season ends; this is a year-round resort with outdoor adventures that include hiking, mountain biking, and family-based activities including climbing walls, ziplines, plus concerts and other events. Summer season options at Snow Summit also include cross-country biking, trampolines, and more.
Winter season activities include skiing and snowboarding with trails offered for all experience types. There are lifts and this resort is known for its artificial snow created with nearby lake water. Chair lift hours for skiers and snowboarders typically end around 4 PM–you likely won’t be boarding your last lift of the day after dark.
Winter operations at Snow Summit typically run from November to April. You can book full-day ski or snowboard trips, half-day, and multi-day visits and the tickets you buy at Snow Summit can also be used at Bear Mountain, too. This gives access to some 400 acres of ski terrain and some 58 ski runs.
Wintertime has Snow Summit focusing on two basic activities–skiing and snowboarding. But there is also a tubing option for those who don’t want to strap skis or boards to their feet. This is described as “high-speed tubing” and it’s presented as a sort of water park configuration where you ride the tubes down 300 feet lanes designed to help you ride as fast as you can.
Tubing isn’t available all year. It is offered in peak winter and summer months–at press time tubing is closed from October 1 to the end of November, opening for winter in December and closing again from April until early June.
It reopens for the summer in mid-June. As you can see, this is a feature of the resort that doesn’t close just because it gets cold or hot. Typical rules apply–one person per tube, all riders must meet minimum height requirements, and helmets are not required for this activity.
Tubing (see above) is available when the facility is open, and there are plenty of other summer season options at Snow Summit. They include a climbing wall, a golf course and a driving range, plus “Euro Bungee” which is a lower-stakes type of bungee activity that involves jumping up into the air from a trampoline instead of jumping off a platform.
The Skychair tour gives you a literal bird’s-eye view of Big Bear Valley on a one-mile through the San Bernardino National Forest.
The Summit Bike Park features lessons, equipment rental, trail maps, and features 1,200 feet of vertical drop. There are jumps, berms, “gravity-fed” bike runs, and options for beginners. There are a dozen downhill trails to choose from.
The entire Big Bear Mountain Resort facility, which includes Snow Summit, is in the San Bernardino National Forest. It’s roughly two hours from Orange County. Snow Summit is about two miles from Bear Mountain.
880 Summit Blvd., Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
When visiting in the winter months, be advised that tire chains may be required depending on road conditions, the amount of snowfall, and other variables. Overnight parking and camping is not permitted. Class One e-bikes are permitted on biking trails, but Class Two and Three e-bikes are not. Some trails prohibit e-bikes of any kind, while other trails are e-bike friendly.
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