Pros: Plenty of parking, no lift lines or crowds, budget options, lift serviced snow play for the little guys, separate progression area, huge viewing deck
Cons: inadequate snowmaking, shorter season, smallest Big Bear Resort, really short season on the backside
Snow Valley is located in Running Springs, CA. As you come up the front side of the mountain, it is the first of the Big Bear Ski Resorts. For those staying in Lake Arrowhead, Crestline, and Arrowbear it is the closest ski area.
I taught my son and his friends to ski at Snow Valley and, for the family with young or varied aged children, there is no better option. We skied there for a number of seasons. They have a huge parking lot so no shuttles and a short walk to the lifts! Lift lines are practically non-existent; on Presidents' Weekend, we experienced our longest wait ever - 10 minutes at the base. The runs are wide and the terrain is moderate. This is an excellent choice for families with young or varied age children. Unlike other resorts, SV is split into four distinct areas. There is a lift serviced "snow play" area which is great fun for the parent who has to wait at the lodge with the ones who are too little to ski. In other words, you don't have to just sit and wait your turn! For the "never-evers," there is the bunny slope and/or lessons with great instructors. However, SV's best feature is their "progression" area. This involves three short runs - 2 greens (usually only one is open), 1 blue, and a beginner park with easy terrain features, separately lift serviced. Rather than take the little ones all the way to the "top" after they have mastered the bunny run, there is a more accessible option. The best thing for grand parents, who came to watch, is that they can see the snow play, the progression area, and the bunny slope all from the massive outdoor deck and enjoy a beer at the same time. SV does have a more advanced terrain park with a varying number of park features depending on the snow levels. I'm not a park skier but I sure do enjoy watching the tricks as I ride the chair above The Edge.
For the more advanced skier, this is not the mountain for you. There is limited terrain or variety and the front side "steeps" well ... aren't! When it's a good snow year and SV gets the backside open though, it's really fun. Slide peak does have some really enjoyable steeper terrain, glade skiing, and off piste between the front side and the backside, albeit short and small. Always, the vibe is great: the sliders are friendly and the staff welcoming.
At this point, with an advanced 16 year old son, it is no longer my first choice in Big Bear, but it was for a number of years.
Early bird season passes are $229.00 for adults with no blackout dates. A "snow jam" preferred card ($15.00) will get you one free lift ticket and half prices lift tickets all season with no blackout dates. For the family on a budget, you can't beat this.
This resort guide is maintained by EpicSki Ambassador: mustski