Visiting Mountain High, California

Latest visit: January 2020

Tips for visiting Mountain High:

  • If you’re planning a visit to Mountain High, bring/buy snow chains for your car, unless it’s a four-wheel drive or you are certain that it can go up or down icy hills. We saw police monitoring the cars that were allowed to drive through. Tip: If you buy your chains at PepBoys and end up not using them, you can return them and get reimbursed at 80% of the cost. Prices vary between $45-$120 depending on the size of the wheel and the quality of chains.
  • Try to get to Mountain High before it opens. The traffic on the main street to get to the mountain can get pretty bad if it’s been snowing or if the road is icy. Cars stop along the road to put their chains on, causing major traffic jams.
  • I’d strongly recommend going during the week- there was a lot less people! I didn’t wait in line once and parked right below the chairlifts. The only downside is that a few chairlifts weren’t open.
  • There are one or two rental equipment shops along the way to Mountain High. You can also rent skis, poles, snowboards, boots, and helmets at the west resort area but there tends to be a lot of people here. Also note that they DO NOT rent jackets, pants or gloves.
  • Tickets: I bought my ticket online 48 hours before arriving at the mountain. It’s called a Quick-E ticket and you’ll need to activate it the first time at the ticket office. After that you can just load up your card online, from home, and go directly to the lifts, bypassing the ticket office. Another advantage is that you get 50% discounts on 8-Hour 4-Hour and Night Tickets on non-holidays. REI also has a deals on 8 hour tickets but you have to pick them up in store (and call ahead of time or order online to make sure they still have some!). If you’re planning on taking lessons or renting equipment, check out their page on special packages.
  • This area has less rental cabins/Airbnb options than Big bear or other mountains I’ve been too. Plan your stay ahead of time! The closest and only town between the highway and the resort is Wrightwood and it’s very small.
  • Wrightwood has a few attractions which include the Grizzly Café and a few antique shops (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays).
  • Mountain High:
    • The mountain has two parking areas (east and west). The west one is the closest to the main mountain and fills up the quickest. The east parking is the second best option- a free shuttle can take you to the west side. If you get to the mountain too late, you can also park safely on the road, in designated areas.
    • We were told it was the first time in two years that the East side of the mountain was open (February 2019)! It seemed to be more advanced (black double diamond) trails. We were also told that the longest trail goes on for over a mile!
    • Ride the light seven nights a week from 5pm-10pm at a heavily discounted price ($49). There were definitely fewer people waiting in line for the lifts after 4 pm.
  • You will need to arm yourself with patience when you decide to leave the mountain, after your skiing/snowboarding day (on the weekends anyway). We left around 4-4:30 pm and it took about one hour to make it from the west resort to the lone pine canyon road (detour), 5 miles from our starting location. Then we hit traffic on all the freeways we were on until we got home.

Impressions of Mountain High:

(from my trip in February 2019)

I’m so happy I tried this mountain. I had been craving snowboarding and this definitely satisfied me temporarily but left me wanting more. We were told these were the best conditions the mountain has had in years. The snow was fresh and powdery, the slopes weren’t too icy, the visibility kept changing but was still very enjoyable.

I’ve snowboarded most of my life in what Californians would consider miserable conditions: icy slopes, freezing weather (14F to -22F or -10C to -30C), high winds, frozen toes, nose, and fingers. That was in Canada. (Ok I’ll admit it’s not ALWAYS like that, but you are now warned) Then I went to France and discovered what powdery snow was like and how it felt to be snowboarding within a glacier valley. Mountain high was a good, quick day-trip alternative for someone who lives by the beach but craves snow.

I snowboarded alone most of the day because my friends took a group lesson (more on this later) and I was surprised at how friendly people were with me in the chairlift. New conversations sparked up every time I sat down. The wait was very short for me since I was in a single lane. Compared to lines I’ve seen at Mont-Tremblant or other mountains in Quebec, the wait was very manageable. Funny fact about the chairlifts: I noticed most people didn’t put the safety bar down. One of the chairs actually didn’t have one!!

The mountain is quite small but has everything from a nearly flat slope for beginners to black double diamonds & terrain. If you like jumps, this is a good mountain for you. I was also surprised at how many snowboarders there was- it was probably a 75/25 ratio!

If you’re thinking about taking a group lesson, be warned. The class my friends took had one instructor and about 20 beginners. I think it’s a better investment to get a private lesson or gather a few friends and get a semi-private lesson!