iPhone Photo: It is time for lunch on Saturday with no other skiers in site on the advanced terrain:
I typically ski around lake Tahoe and in Utah, but never miss a chance to ski some of the lesser known areas. I recently spent a couple of days with my son's Boy Scout troop at Bear Valley, a relatively modest (by western standards) mountain offering a healthy dose of terrain for all skier abilities. The area has 1,680 skiable acres and 1,900 feet of vertical. It is owned by Dundee Resort Development, which also owns Arapahoe Basin and various luxury properties in Colorado.
Skiing on January 12 & 13, 2013:
The weather was on the colder side, which meant the snow stayed soft. Leftover powder from two days earlier was still found on the 12th, with hardly any skiers in Snow Valley and Grizzly Bowl (see my iPhone photo above). It seemed silly that so few skiers were enjoying so much of the resort's skiable acreage. These two parts of the ski area need 4 or 5 feet of snow to open, and Snow Valley is now decently covered. The Grizzly chair, serving the area, was nearly empty. The rest of the mountain had more skiers, but never seemed crowded.
- The mountain is relatively empty mid-week with modest crowds on the weekends. Only the Polar Express lift had a lift line on the weekend, and it was only a few minutes long.
- This is a great area for families.
- I noticed an enthusiastic local racing program there, on a day the NASTAR was not available.
- The resort has a good mix of groomed and ungroomed snow.
- Friendly enough staff.
- The drive on a Friday night is easier than driving to Lake Tahoe.
- There is a very good cross country center nearby.
- You can get a free Bear Valley lift ticket (or $30 off on weekends) at the SF or SJ Ski Festivals.
- Parking. If you don't arrive early, be prepared for a long walk to the lodge. Valet parking is available for $20.
- The lifts. I think five are the old pole-centered two seaters without a safety bar. Perhaps it is just me, but I get nervous on those things when wearing a backpack (I prefer not to take if off to ride a lift).
- Lodging. There aren't a lot of options yet, with many skiers staying in the town of Arnold approximately 30 minutes away. The resort is supposedly making progress with their redevelopment plans.
Lake Tahoe isn't the only place for Northern Californians to ski. Bear Valley is certainly worth a try when there is ample snow, given that the advanced-expert terrain remains relatively empty. The resort seems like a great place for families and those learning to ski. The shorter drove from the Bay area is a plus.
Edited by quant2325 - 1/14/13 at 10:17am