Bad news came to SoCal skiers and snowboarders this month when CalTrans announced that the quickest access to Big Bear Mountain Resort, Snow Summit, and Snow Valley Mountain Resort would be closed for up to two years. Skiers from SoCal must now drive a bit longer to get to the slopes, but the snow is holding up to roll into February in good shape.
"We're trying to get the word out that we still have three additional routes into Big Bear," Chris Riddle, spokesperson for Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, told OnTheSnow. "This is a long-term closure. CalTrans has good signage up, and we're managing around it."
Pre-Christmas storms pounded the San Bernardino Mountains with four days of heavy rains, causing rushing water to tear the ground out from under a section of Highway 330 between Highland and Running Spring. The water sent two lanes of pavement sliding down the mountain, leaving only a guardrail sagging across the chasm. The now closed Highway 330 provided the most direct link to ski slopes from San Diego and Los Angeles.
CalTrans announced earlier this month that the 15-mile stretch of Highway 330 connecting Highland to Running Springs will remain closed for up to two years.
"It's got to impact us a little bit, but we're tracking with visitation about where we were last year," said Riddle. "What does happen is that traffic can get backed up when the other roads get impacted with an accident or weather."
SoCal resorts rebounded quickly from the December rains with two feet of snowfall, and snowmaking guns roared into action. "In SoCal, we live and die by snowmaking," said Riddle. "We'll continue to make snow on all of our runs through February, and we have an unlimited supply of water from Big Bear Lake. When conditions are right, we make snow, and a lot of snow. We're in good shape."
Alternate routes to the ski areas are available. Mountain travelers from SoCal can use Highway 38 or Highway 18. Riddle estimates that two of the alternate routes add 10-15 minutes to the drive. Detailed directions are available online.
Carry chains while driving in the San Bernardino Mountains. Check on road conditions before you go.
More information: Bear Mountain/Snow Summit.