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Conquering the Slopes Together: A Big Bear Family Vacation in 2024


Are you planning a family vacation and looking for an unforgettable adventure on the slopes? Look no further than Big Bear, California, a winter wonderland that promises exhilarating skiing experiences for everyone, from first-time skiers to seasoned experts. In this family-friendly guide to skiing in Big Bear, we’ll focus on Bear Mountain and Snow Summit resorts, two jewels in Big Bear’s snowy crown that offer a diverse range of trails and amenities tailored to families.

Big Bear Family Vacation

Big Bear is more than just a ski destination; it’s a place where families can create lasting memories. Nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains, it offers breathtaking scenery and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. Bear Mountain and Snow Summit stand out for their commitment to providing a family-friendly environment, with a mix of slopes that cater to all skill levels and ages.

Big Bear Family Vacation

How do I get to Big Bear?

Located only 90 minutes from Ontario airport in Southern California, Big Bear is very easy to get to with 3 different routes. Head over to this comprehensive guide on getting to Big Bear during the snow season. Remember to always pack chains even if you have a 4×4 vehicle! Mountain road conditions change very quickly so be sure to pack supplies as you may be stuck on the road for extended periods of time.

Use your Ikon Pass at all 3 Big Bear Ski Resorts

Big Bear Mountain, Snow Summit and Snow Valley are all part of the Ikon Pass! The Ikon Pass represents a revolutionary development in the world of winter sports, offering ski and snowboard enthusiasts unprecedented access to some of the most iconic winter destinations across the globe. This pass is not just a ticket to multiple resorts; it’s a gateway to a community of winter sport lovers and a plethora of mountain experiences.

What is the Ikon Pass?

Developed by Alterra Mountain Company, the Ikon Pass serves as a season-long pass that grants access to a vast network of ski resorts worldwide. Its inception was a response to the growing demand for a more flexible and wide-ranging skiing experience, accommodating both the occasional holiday skier and the avid snow adventurer. The pass includes access to over 40 destinations across the Americas, Australia, Japan, and Europe, featuring some of the most renowned resorts like Aspen Snowmass, Steamboat, Jackson Hole, and many others.

Ikon Pass Benefits and Features

One of the most attractive features of the Ikon Pass is its versatility. It offers options ranging from unlimited access to specific resorts to a certain number of days at various destinations, catering to different skiing habits and preferences. Additionally, pass holders often receive various discounts, including savings on lodging, food, and retail, as well as discounted tickets for friends and family, making it an excellent option for group travel.

Another significant advantage of the Ikon Pass is its inclusivity. It caters to all levels of skiers and snowboarders, from beginners looking for gentle slopes and comprehensive ski schools, to experts seeking challenging terrains and backcountry adventures. This inclusivity extends to families as well, with many resorts offering family-friendly amenities and activities beyond the slopes.

Don’t Have an Ikon Pass?

Have no fear if you don’t have the coveted Ikon Pass we just described. You can purchase lift tickets online at https://www.bigbearmountainresort.com/ or at the ticket office at each of the resorts. We HIGHLY recommend that you purchase the tickets ahead of time so that you can scan the QR code at the automated redemption machines around the resorts. This will save you a lot of time so you can hit the slopes right away. Be sure to check weather conditions before you head up to Big Bear and don’t attempt to come up if the roads are closed, it’s not worth it.

A Guide to Bear Mountain: A Paradise for Family Skiing

Bear Mountain is renowned for its innovative terrain parks and beginner-friendly slopes. Here’s why it’s perfect for your family:

  1. Learning Made Fun: With a dedicated learning area and experienced instructors, kids and beginners can learn skiing in a fun and safe environment.
  2. Terrain for All: Beyond the beginner slopes, there are numerous intermediate and advanced trails, ensuring that as your family’s skills grow, new challenges await.
  3. Family-Friendly Amenities: Bear Mountain offers a range of amenities, including childcare services, making it easier for parents to enjoy some skiing on their own.
Bear Mountain Resort Runs

Where is the Beginner Area at Bear Mountain?

If you’re facing the Bear Mountain, the beginner areas are on the left side. This is where you’ll find the ski school and Chair Lift 7 – Inspiration. This “bunny slope” is strictly for beginners as the grade is very shallow. As you progress through the day, head up Chair Lift 6 – Easy Street for longer runs. As you get off the lift you can head left towards Learning Curve which has terrain obstacles in the middle or veer right all the way to stay on Easy Street. Be careful if you keep going straight you will hit Accelerator which is a blue run for intermediates.


Other Beginner Runs at Bear Mountain

We like going up Chair 2 which is 2 passenger, slower moving chair that takes you up to the middle of the mountain. You can head down Amusement Park from there which connects back to Easy Street. If you want to get on Chair 2 again, be sure to hang left as you come down!

View from Chair Lift 2 to Amusement Park run

What are some Intermediate Blue Runs at Bear Mountain?

As you progress and become more comfortable making it safely down the mountain, head over to the far right side of Bear Mountain to the Bear Mountain Express (Chair Lift 9) which is a 4 passenger, high speed lift that takes you up to the peak of Goldmine Mountain at 8,440’ above sea level! From there stay on Park Run which takes you down a fairly steep grade that levels off into Expressway. The right side of the trail will have jumps and whoops, take a hard left to The Gulch and carry some speed to get onto Park Run lower which takes you back down the hill.

Going down Bear Mountain Express

What About the Advance Runs at Bear?

There are 2 double black diamond runs, Geronimo on the far left side and The Wedge / Exhibition (a single black diamond) in the middle of the mountain. I personally like riding Chair Lift 4 up to The Wedge and taking Ripcord down. There are less people on that part of the mountain and everyone knows what they are doing. Geronimo is not for the faint of heart as it takes you up Bear Peak at 8,805’, with great views of the entire San Gorgonio mountain range the Big Bear Lake.

A Guide to Snow Summit: Diverse Trails for Every Family Member

Snow Summit complements Bear Mountain with its own unique offerings:

  1. Variety of Slopes: From gentle beginner runs to thrilling black diamond trails, Snow Summit has something for every family member, regardless of their skiing level.
  2. Night Skiing: Experience the magic of skiing under the stars with Snow Summit’s night sessions, a unique adventure that older kids and adults will love.
  3. Family Bonding Activities: Beyond skiing, Snow Summit offers tubing and other snow activities, perfect for families looking to bond off the slopes.

Where are the Beginner Areas at Snow Summit?

Snow Summit is a beginners paradise as there are numerous green runs. If you’re just getting started you can find the “bunny slopes” at the far left of the base of the mountain near the Grizzly Ridge Tube Park. The run is very short but great for those just starting out.

What’s Another Longer Green Run at Snow Summit?

Take Chair Lift 2 – the All Mountain Xpress up to the peak of Snow Summit at 8,200’ where there’s a restaurant called Hog on the Rocks at the top. As you exit the lift there go left to head down a trail that meets up with Chair Lift 1 – East Mountain Xpress where the Skyline Taphouse is. From there you’ll take Summit Run all the way back down. I would recommend staying on Chair Lift 2 as there are less people than heading down the middle of the mountain to Chair 1.

Where’s the Terrain Parks at Snow Summit?

The freestyle terrain with bars, jumps, boxes, etc can be found throughout the park, mainly on the right hand side of the mountain if you’re facing it directly. There are accessed by taking Chair Lift 2 to the very top and staying to the right as you get off the lift (you’ll be heading towards the left if you facing down the mountain). Be sure to wear a helmet and watch out for traffic as you make your way up and down the terrain park.

Tips for a Successful Ski Trip to Big Bear

  1. Plan Ahead: Book your accommodations and ski lessons in advance, especially if you’re traveling during peak season.
  2. Dress Appropriately: Ensure everyone is equipped with warm, waterproof clothing and proper ski gear.
  3. Stay Safe: Always follow the resort’s safety guidelines and consider helmets for all family members.
  4. Enjoy Off-Slope Activities: Explore Big Bear’s charming village, with its array of shops, restaurants, and cozy lodges.
  5. Know Where to Park: Head over this guide on where to park at Snow Summit and Bear Mountain Resorts.

Places to Stay in Big Bear

If you’re looking for a modern cabin in Big Bear, check out Cloud on Villa by My Cloud Getaway. They offer a beautiful 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom cabin with all the ameneties including a spa/jacuzzi, game room with air hockey table, treadmill and a huge wrap around deck. The views of Bear Mountain are breathtaking all year around but extra special in winter. The place is family-friendly and you’re sure to make beautiful memories!


Big Bear, with its beautiful Bear Mountain and Snow Summit resorts, offers a perfect blend of fun, challenge, and relaxation for families. Whether it’s your first time on the slopes or you’re seasoned skiers, these resorts promise a delightful and memorable skiing experience for your family. Pack your bags, hit the slopes, and create unforgettable memories in the snow-capped paradise of Big Bear!

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