📅 2023-Feb-20 ⬩ ✍️ Ashwin Nanjappa ⬩ 🏷️ travel, usa ⬩ 📚 Archive
Bear Valley is a snow and ski area that is about 3 hours drive away from the SF Bay Area. The weather was sunny and bright during the Presidents Day long weekend and there seemed to be ample snow in Bear Valley so we decided to make it a day trip.
Bear Valley is a little more than 3 hours drive from Fremont. It might be longer if you are driving from the west of the bay.
We left early at 7AM and the 1 hour drive until Stockton is on freeways and was free of traffic.
From Stockton, the next 2 hours are on the single-lane highway 4. The first hour on HW4 was like a roller coaster ride through rural countryside. The second hour after Murphy gets into the mountains and we saw snow piled on either sides of the road here.
We left Bear Valley around 3PM on the way back, but the Sunday evening traffic from Stockton onwards was quite stressful.
Note that the entire HW4 stretch was so full of ups and downs and bends that our kid threw up multiple times, both to and from Bear Valley. This is something to note if your kid or partner tends to get carsick in such situations.
We chose to visit the Bear Valley Adventure Co since they had tubing and sledding areas for kids.
Parking: Coming from HW4, take a left turn to get into the parking areas which are distributed around a loop inner road. Finding a spot (due to holiday crowds) and parking there on the morning slushy hardened ice road was a bit tricky.
Amenities: Right when you take a left from HW4 is the main visitor center where you can rent skis and there is a store with all the snow accessories. There is also a gas station and a place to grab some simple grub.
Sledding: Come out from the visitor center and cross HW4 to get into the skiing and kids play areas where they had prepared small snow hills for tubing and sledding. Tubes and sleds have to be rented (you cannot bring your own) and rentals were $35/tube and $20/sled for 2 hours. Plus, every attendee needs a $10 fee. This place was really large, full of snow and the kids had a lot of fun, totally worth it.
There is also a snowmobile rental in Bear Valley, but they need everyone to be 5 years or older, so we skipped that.
Bear Valley is closer than Tahoe and can be done as a day trip, especially on a day with less traffic. The kids loved it!