Dodge Ridge, Bear Valley ski resorts ready for ski season

Snow’s a-comin’; Dodge Ridge, Bear Valley ski resorts prep for ski season

With the first winter snow a few days ago now closing Ebbetts and Sonora passes, and heavier winter storms forecast for the central Sierra over Thanksgiving, the two closest resorts to San Joaquin County are gearing up for another fun ski and boarding season.

Bear Valley and Dodge Ridge are closer than other options in the Lake Tahoe area, as well as family-friendly, less expensive and each offers marvelous terrain for any experience level. Trips to these two resorts don’t require summiting a mountain pass to reach the ski areas, so less chance of chain controls. From central Stockton, Dodge Ridge is just 98 miles, on Highway 108 above Sonora; Bear Valley, just over 100 miles, on Highway 4 above Murphys – each only about two hours distant! Here are updates:

Dodge Ridge, family-owned and family-loved since 1950: Dodge Ridge awaits another storm before announcing opening day. What’s noteworthy about this resort is that throughout its long history the resort remains family-owned and treasured by generations of families since its opening in 1950. If you’ve followed the ski industry lately, you know this is becoming a rarity in the ski industry.

Family takes in the view in Boulder Creek Canyon at Dodge Ridge
A young guest gets full attention of the Dodge Ridge Snowsports School.

The resort focuses on its relationship with their guests and the way staff is trained, with many people who work here growing up skiing and riding here; their families come here and their children come here. There’s a huge multi-generational segment of the resort’s guests.

The resort features an expansive Family Lodge, with ski/board rentals and the nearby Creekside Lodge offers a compact, walkable and family-friendly base area.

Owners Sally and Frank Helm pose in front of the Dodge Ridge Family Lodge.

Dodge Ridge lift ticket pricing (the resort offers the lowest day pass pricing this season among comparably sized Sierra resorts):
Adults, 20-64, $79
Teen, 13-19, $64
Youth, 6-12, $29
Kids, 5-under, Free
Senior, 65-81, $64
Golden Age, 82+, Free
Military Discount for active military and veterans.
Discounted Senior Tuesdays starting in January 2020.
SaveMart/Lucky Stores offer discounted vouchers.

Dodge Ridge is widely known as the place where people learned to ski. That reflects upon the caliber of the resort’s lesson programs, honed and perfected over the years. New skiers and boarders as young as 2 years old, up to any age, get their start here.
The resort focuses upon development of a lifelong love of the sport through daily lesson programs, progression through all lesson levels along with care devoted to instructor training. Dodge Ridge offers a wide array of lesson programs:

Intro To Snow: One on one private lessons for kids as young as 2 years old
• Progression Pass (Levels 1 – 3 / Ages 13+)

● Race Team and DASH All-Mountain Team (Ages 7 to 13, levels 5 to expert)

Led by Jim Phillips, who has years of experience in leading groups of athletes in multiple sports including skiing, skateboarding, BMX riding and GoKart racing. Many of the athletes he coached accomplished National and World recognition.

As a former professional skateboarder, nationally ranked BMX rider, professional freestyle skier, alpine climber, surfer and rock climber, Jim’s experiences have led him to a unique perspective of what it means to ski the terrain of a mountain.

Accomplished all mountain skiers understand that their skiing changes based upon the terrain and conditions and can seamlessly connect these into a flow.

Through cooperative coaching methods, the Team’s coaches work with each individual to build a set of tools for skiing different terrain and conditions while being positive ambassadors of Dodge Ridge

● Master’s Clinics (Specialized techniques for intermediate to advanced skiers, ages 50+)

Led by Jon Mahanna, PSIA Alpine Level 3 Instructor and past Examiner,  this exciting program for intermediate to advanced skiers over the age of 50 will be geared towards the technical elements necessary for their success.  

Our specialized Master’s Instructors will guide everyone through efficient progressions for establishing a strong body position on skis while allowing for the least amount of resistance on our muscles and skeletal frame.

The Masters Program is a must for those anxious to improve in a relaxed atmosphere, meet new friends and develop the skills and techniques to keep current.

Dodge Ridge’s skiable 862 acres extend far off to the east, to Chair 8 terrain with remarkable variety and scenic Sierra views into Boulder Creek Canyon. With 1,600 vertical feet serviced by 8 chairlifts, a T-bar, rope tow and two Magic Carpet lifts, Dodge Ridge has something to offer beginners all the way to adrenaline-fueled skiers and riders. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and sledding options can be found in the nearby Stanislaus National Forest. Lodging can be found just below the mountain in Pinecrest, Long Barn, Twain Harte and Sonora. For Dodge Ridge information,, (209) 965-3474.

Bear Valley touts snow-making, lodge improvements and recently installed high-speed six-pack chairlift: Bear Valley Resorts have not yet announced an opening date, but await the coming storms. A spokesperson shared that lodge and snow making improvements will add to a positive snow experience this season.

Family that boards and skis enjoys Bear Valley on snowy day.

Ticket prices at the window are:
Adult, 20-64, $105.00
Teen, 13-19, $84.00
Child, 6-12, $42.00
Kinder, 5-under, $15.00
Active military and dependents with ID, price TBA, and free on Sundays
Senior, 65-74, $54.00
Super senior, 75-up, $15.00
Bear notes that tickets bought in advance, on-line receive discounts.

Bear’s high-speed six-pack lift unloading terminal extends further uphill than the previous lift, providing improved access to intermediate and advanced terrain, along with providing service to Bear West, the Village Side and all areas in the Upper and Lower Mountain bowls.

Guests enjoy Bear Valley on a sunny day.

From numerous visits, Bear Valley is known for its welcoming staff, affordable ticket prices, terrain variety, and a commitment to providing the ultimate mountain experience. The mountain offers 1,680 acres of varied terrain, 8 chairs (2 high-speed) and 2 surface lifts, more than 70 trails (and access to “side country” adventure terrain), two terrain parks and 1,900 vertical feet when fully opened.

Bear Valley Village is home to a variety of services, shops, restaurants and a wide range of accommodations. Winters provide skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, sledding, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Additional lodging can be found in Arnolds and Murphys. For Bear Valley info,, (209) 753-2301.

Kids enjoy a lesson at Bear Valley.

For those seeking immediate skiing/boarding gratification, resorts like Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Mt. Rose and Mammoth Mountain have all opened with limited skiing/boarding on runs serviced by snow-making. Kirkwood, Boreal and Sugar Bowl all hope to open around Thanksgiving. As you enjoy that holiday meal, “think snow”!

Contact Tim at, follow him at Happy skiing in the Sierra!

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