We are in Southern California now and have a day to kill (in the 1st week of Dec). What we want is to experience snow before we return to warmer climates. One option we have is Big Bear (which is just 2 hours drive). My question is, is it possible to just drive up to Big Bear and experience snow there so that we will be able to get back to LA and attend a business meeting next morning. Or are there any other better alternatives to see some snow? What clothing should we take if we are planning to spend only 3-4 hours there.

P.S: When we say experience snow, what we mean is we have never seen snow in our lives and would like to make most of the time we have here. Skiing and snowboarding can wait.

2 Answers 2


Besides Big Bear, another good place to see snow, which is closer to central LA, is Mount Baldy. There is a ski area there.

I'll also mention San Jacinto Peak, which is especially interesting because you can reach the mountain via aerial tram (from the Palm Springs side on the east). However I don't recommend this for those who are afraid of heights.

For any of these places, you should phone ahead (call the ski resort or tram company or whatever). First, to make sure there actually is snow; depending on the weather it may have melted. Second, to make sure that weather and road conditions are good; if you have never seen snow before, you don't really want to be driving in it. You may also be required to carry tire chains.

  • Baldy is a good place but make sure to buy a parking permit if it is crowded... Supports the national forest and saves you a ticket. Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 10:28
  • Thanks for the other options. Will certainly check them.
    – rest_day
    Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 22:00
  • 1
    You can see how much snow at: pstramway.com/long-valley-cam.html Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 23:59

They say it is a 2 hour drive, but in notorious LA traffic it will be more depending on the time of day. However it is very possible. I would recommend waking up early to drive out and you should make it in 2-3 hours. If you leave when the sun goes down you will make it back to LA in time to enjoy a good night's rest before your meeting.

To be forward, snow is cold. Also, it will probably be below 0°C in the early morning. You will need a good thick jacket, a knit hat, gloves, and boots. When you get out of the car you may still feel warm, but the cold will catch up with you quick. Just remember the rule of living in cold climates: you can always take off extra layers of clothes that you have, you cannot put on layers of clothes that you don't have.

  • Dont forget chains... If the weather gets bad, CHP will have a checkpoint and force you to turn around without them. Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 10:29
  • Actually yea... chains are quite handy.
    – Beaker
    Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 2:01

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