When people think of Southern California they think of palm trees and the beach but many will be surprised to find that California offers numerous sledding opportunities. The mountains surrounding Big Bear are perfect for sledding. There are many different options to choose from if you are looking for a fun-filled day of sledding.
Before we begin, I wanted to remind you to of a few things. Parking near Big Bear has become pretty crowded as of lately. Please only park in designated parking locations. With all of the cars parked illegally, even Emergency Response has had a problem reaching the correct location of a call safely.
Please remember clean up your trash and broken sleds. Numerous sledding locations around the US have been closed because of left over sleds and trash from visitors. Because of this, I will be holding a clean up competition you may find on this page here. The winner of the completion will win $25 to Dicks Dporting Goods.
1. Big Bear Snow Play
42825 Big Bear Boulevard Big Bear Lake, CA
Located just west of Big Bear Village. It is off of Hwy 18 as you’re going towards Big Bear Lake.
Open daily from 10 am to 4 pm (Night Tubing 5 pm to 9 pm)
$35 per person and $20 for children 36″ to 42″ in height.
Big Bear Snow Play was once a ski hill called Rebel Ridge. It was later converted into the world-class tubing hill it is today.
You and your family will be grinning from ear to ear as they zoom down each of the runs at fantastic paces. This park offers some of the longest tubing runs in Southern California.
One of the best parts about this tubing park is that you don’t even have to worry about walking back up the hill. All you have to do when you get to the bottom is ride the covered “magic carpet lift” back up to the top of the hill.
Big Bear Snow Play’s secret to having a great time tubing is their snow. Not only do they use the natural snow that falls, but they also make their own. This ensures that you will have plenty of snow to slide down when you visit!
I highly recommend that you try out the night sledding or “night glow tubing” as they call it. It is an unforgettable experience!
The whole park is illuminated with red, blue, green, and black lights creating a beautiful display of colors as you slide down the hills.
This park also offers a 1,980 square ft base lodge that is equipped with restrooms and a snack bar. This provides a perfect opportunity to warm up while drinking a hot chocolate or eating one of the various food items they offer.
In addition to sledding, Big Bear Snow Play offers GoKarting during the summer months. The kids will enjoy racing each other at speeds of 30 mph.
2. Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain
800 Wildrose Lane Big Bear Lake, CA
This sledding spot is located west of Big Bear Village, down Hwy 18. It right by Big Bear Lake.
Hours differ depending on the season. Winter hours are Monday thru Friday 10 am to 4 pm and Saturday and Sunday 10 am to dusk.
A single ride on the Alpine slide is $6 and a 5-book ride is $25. More information is available on their website.
The Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain is the most unique option for sledding on this list. Rather than tubing or sledding down a snow-covered hill, you will be riding down a concrete track on a specially designed sled that lets you steer and control your speed.
This is the only authentic bobsled experience in southern California and will leave you wanting to go back time and time again.
Upon arrival, you will take a scenic chairlift ride to the top of the mountain. On this ride, you will be immersed in the beauty that Big Bear has to offer and can even get a good glimpse of the lake.
Once at the top of the hill you will receive your individual sled that is equipped with a Teflon runner and ball bear wheels. The next step is to hop on the sled and enjoy the exhilarating ride.
The Alpine Slide is open year round. Many other summer activities are available at this location as well. There are options such as GoKarting, 18-hole miniature golf, and a double waterslide.
In addition to that, a new attraction called the soaring eagle is also available. The soaring eagle will give you the sensation of flying as you are catapulted through the are at speeds of 28 mph.
3. Aspen Glen Picnic Area
40105 Mill Creek road Big Bear Lake CA
This picnic and sledding area is located in the town of Big Bear Lake just 10-15 minutes away from Big Bear Village.
This sledding spot is located within a national park, therefore it is required that you buy an adventure pass for $5 (day pass) or $30 (annual pass).
This beautiful picnic area offers lots of sledding hills to choose from. Many of the hills are gentle slopes with lots of rooms, making this an ideal location for families with smaller children.
Aspen Glen is also a wonderful area to build a snowman, make snow angels, or start a snowball fight.
It can, however, get quite crowded. It is recommended that you get there before 10 am or near dust if you want to avoid the crowds.
Once you are done sledding, you can relax in the picnic area, which includes a barbeque station and an unheated pit toilet.
The nature in this sledding spot is breathtaking. Taking sledding pictures of the family is a must!
4. Grizzly Ridge Tubing Park at Snow Summit
880 Summit Blvd. Big Bear Lake, CA
In the town of Big Bear Lake right down the road from Bear Mountain Ski Resort.
Everyday from 10 am to 5 pm (last ticket is sold at 3:30 pm)
Parking is Free. Prices range from $25 to $35 for a 1.5-hour session. Prices vary depending on age and day of the week. More info is available on their website.
Grizzly Ridge Tubing Park at Snow Summit is a great place for all ages. This is the place to go if you want to skip the lines at the ski resort.
This spot offers three amazing tubing lanes that are groomed daily. You will be screaming with joy as you zip down the hills the high speed/ heavy-duty tubes that are offered at the park.
Many enjoy this park because it is less crowded and it offers a long and enjoyable ride. Plus, you don’t even have to walk back up the hill. You can just take the moving carpet lift back up to the top.
5. Gray’s Peak Trailhead
Grays Peak Trail, Fawnskin, CA
Located on the opposite side of the lake between the dam and the city of Fawnskin.
If you are looking for a great place to take the family sledding for free near Big Bear, this is the place. Its gentle slopes provide plenty of room for the family and are not too steep or too flat for the kiddos.
At the end of a long day of sledding, you can relax at their picnic area while taking in the views of the lake and surrounding area.
This place also offers good quality restrooms, hiking trails, and is great for other snow activities.
6. Cougar Crest Trail
Cougar Crest Trail, Big Bear, CA 92314
North of the lake off of Hwy 38 on the right hand side of the road.
Cougar Crest Trail offers some great sledding hills. It is a great option if you are looking for a less crowded sledding experience as well.
Parking can be hard to come by, but when you find a spot, the beauty of the area and the great sledding hills make it worth it.
Note: The snow in this spot tends to melt faster than others. It is suggested that you buy a foam sled instead of a plastic one. Be on the lookout for exposed rocks.
7. Barton Flats Snow Play Area
Located off of Hwy 38 out of Redlands via Jenks Lake Road West.
This location requires an adventure pass which can be purchased for $5.
This is another spot worth checking out. It is great for sledding and other snow play activities.
Barton Flats Snow Play Area is within a National Forest area. There are not a ton of big hills within this location. So, it is great for young kids who are not yet ready for large hills.
8. Green Valley Lake Secret Sledding Hill
By Green Valley Lake just 18 miles west of Big Bear.
Green Valley Lake Sledding Hill is a very unique place to go sledding. The reason it is so unique is due to its history. The sledding hill used to be a ski resort that was transferred from owner to owner until it finally shut down in 2008.
The ex-ski resort is now a perfect place for sledding. The old ski runs provide a perfectly sloped ride without the worry of hitting a tree or big rocks.
This spot is absolutely worth checking out. You can find more information on how to get there on a website called Exsplore.
9. Boulder Bay Park
39148 California 18, Big Bear Lake, CA
Boulder Bay Park is a great area for fishing, but in the winter time, it can be an excellent sledding location as well. It is not uncommon to see people sledding down the various hills located in the area.
The scenery in this are is amazing and provides a nature-immersive experience.
10. Rim of the World Snow Play Area
26577 CA-18, Rimforest, CA
$5 adventure pass is required.
Rim of the World is not only a great spot to go sledding but it also great for playing in the snow. You can also build a snowman and make snow angels in this little snow area.
Located in the San Bernardino Mountains, this sledding spot can receive quite a bit of snow, which is perfect for tubing and sledding.
It does get a bit of heavy use during the weekends so it is best to go during the weekday during its open season.
11. Snowdrift Winter Playground
34600 CA-18, Green Valley Lake, CA
Located a little way out from Big Bear Village down Hwy 18.
Snowdrift is the largest and oldest snow tubing park in Southern California and is located in San Bernardino National Forest.
This spot requires a special use permit for those that desire to sled in the area. Once the permit is acquired, this area makes a great place for sledding.
This location is family friendly as it has slopes designed for all level of sledding capabilities.
This area is only meant for tubes, so make sure you bring a tube instead of a sled.
12. Woodland Trail
41948 N Shore Dr, Big Bear, CA 92314
$5 adventure pass required.
Woodland Trail is full of lots of small sledding hills. There is plenty of parking. Bathrooms, as well as picnic areas, are available.
This sledding spot has been described by many as a winter wonderland. It offers a peaceful and serene sledding experience.
13. Highway 18
Highway extends from Bear Lake Village all the way to Running Springs.
Usually free depending on the area.
Driving on Hwy 18 is a great adventure. The road cuts through mountains and heavily forested areas. There are many unofficial sledding spots one can try out on this road. If you keep your eye open for a good spot you will be able to find one.
Be careful where you park and always choose a sledding hill that is safe.
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How Much Snow is Needed to Go Sledding?
Typically, sledding requires around 2-4 inches of snow. However, several factors influence the optimal conditions, such as the terrain type, snow consistency, sled design, and slope steepness. As a general rule, if you can still see the ground or vegetation, it’s likely not suitable for sledding.
Weather plays a crucial role in sledding. If the temperature is warm enough to melt snowmen, it’s probably too warm to produce sufficient snow for sledding. This can result in slushy conditions that diminish the thrill of the ride.
On the other hand, extremely cold temperatures can also impact sledding conditions. Very low temperatures may yield light, powdery snow or, worse, transform a previously sled-friendly hill into an icy surface as hard as concrete.
Therefore, it’s important to aim for an ideal temperature range of 29-30 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sledding conditions. Within this range, the snow maintains a desirable consistency, neither overly slushy nor frozen solid. By considering the temperature and its impact on the snow conditions, you can ensure an enjoyable and exhilarating sledding experience.
Further Reading: How Much Snow is Needed to Go Sledding?
Sled Types and Amount of Snow
Various sled types have different requirements when it comes to the depth of snow needed for optimal sledding. Here’s a breakdown of sled types and their snow depth preferences:
- Inflatable Tubes: Inflatable tubes, especially the plastic pool-type ones, can be used with minimal snow coverage. These tubes can swiftly glide down grassy hills even with just a light dusting of snow. However, they are not suitable for areas with dense vegetation, as they have a tendency to pop easily. Additionally, rocky terrain should be avoided to prevent damage.
- Regular Plastic or Saucer Shaped Sleds: These sleds adhere to the 1-2 inch snow rule. They require enough snow to utilize pressure and friction effectively. They work best on grassy hills. If you plan to sled on a hill with taller vegetation, it is recommended to wait until the snow has fully covered the vegetation for an optimal experience.
- Toboggans and Traditional Skid-Type Sleds: Toboggans and sleds with runners or blades at the bottom necessitate a greater depth of snow compared to the previous types mentioned. On grassy hills, these sleds typically perform well with a snow base of 2-4 inches. Similarly, for hills with dense vegetation, it is advisable to wait until the rocks, plants, and other obstacles are completely covered by snow.
By considering the type of sled you have and the amount of snow required, you can select the most suitable option for the current snow conditions and terrain, ensuring an enjoyable sledding experience.
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What to Use in Place of a Sled
If you find yourself in urgent need of a sled but lack the time, funds, or appropriate resources to purchase one, there are several alternatives available. Sledding primarily requires an object that is smooth, waterproof, and capable of minimizing friction, enabling it to glide across the snow effortlessly.
This is why the possibilities for substitute sleds are virtually limitless. Essentially, all you need is something that is waterproof, smooth, and of sufficient size to accommodate sitting or lying down.
However, it’s important to acknowledge that using something other than a traditional sled may present certain drawbacks. Objects repurposed as sleds may be more prone to breakage, less comfortable, and generally more challenging to steer and maneuver.
Nonetheless, don’t let these limitations discourage you from exploring the numerous options provided below!
- Trash bags
- Garbage can lids
- Large storage bins
- Shower curtains
- Baby pool
- Inflatable pool tubes/toys
- Inflatable mattresses
- Yoga mats
Now you don’t have an excuse not to have an awesome day sledding! Head out to a hill near you and try one of these amazing options today.
To read more about sled alternatives, check out “How to go Sledding if you Don’t Have a Sled.”
If you are thinking of turning down a fun-filled sledding session because of your lack of snow pants, think again! Try one of these wardrobe alternatives and go hit the hills.
Winter can tend to be a real drag, but the best way to make the most out of it is to go out and have fun in the snow and cold. What better way to do that than going sledding. Here are what I have found to be the 9 best sleds you can buy online.