Dodge Ridge, Bear Valley prep for an unusual ski season

Bear Valley, Dodge Ridge ready for an unusual ski season

With winter storms soon to blanket the central Sierra, the two closest resorts to San Joaquin County are gearing up for another snowy season.

Family stops for a break on Dodge Ridge’s Chair 8, with Boulder Creek Canyon behind.

Both Bear Valley and Dodge Ridge ski resorts note they are operating in strange territory, with county-by-county Covid19 strictures governing many of the rules of reopening safely. Each resort is also following recommendations by the National Ski Areas Association (the ‘Ski well, be well’ program), encouraging six feet of distancing, face coverings, frequent handwashing as well as reduced lesson sizes. It shapes up as a year of “grab and go” food, limited access to resort food service, more outdoor barbecuing, dining and parking-lot tailgating!

Bear Valley Ski Resort 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 “adventure terrain”), two terrain parks with more than 18 features, and 1,900 vertical feet.  The resort averages over 30 feet of annual snowfall per year. 

Bear Valley on a sunny day, with Mokelumne River Canyon in background.

Several years ago, Bear debuted a new high-speed six-pack chairlift that transports six passengers at a time from the mid-mountain ski lodge to the top of the mountain, increasing guest uphill capacity of the mountain’s main artery. The new lift unloading terminal extended 120  feet further uphill than the previous lift, providing improved access to intermediate and advanced terrain, along with providing service to Bear West (the Backside), the Village Side and areas in the Upper and Lower Mountain bowls.

Bear is applying their Covid19 operations plan throughout each department to ensure the safety of their guests. Planned opening day (weather permitting) is Friday, November 27, then weekends only until full-time opening targeted for December 14. Ticket sales will require no reservations, though, if a day becomes overly busy, it’s conceivable ticket sales might have to be limited.

Families at Bear Valley often include both skiers and boarders.

Bear Valley Adventure Company also offers cross country skiing and snowshoeing on 3000 acres fanning out from Bear Valley Village. A number of season pass options are offered and the mountain has adopted a “Team” concept, with four packages of lessons for all ages and skill levels to improve skiing skills. Lodging is available at Bear Valley Lodge and other options in the village just below the mountain itself. For more insight, bearvalley.com or phone (209) 753-2301.

Dodge Ridge Ski Resort, family-owned and family-focused, is celebrating its 70th year this season while awaiting a good winter storm before announcing opening day. Throughout its long history the resort remains family-owned and loved by generations of families since its opening in 1950. (Authors note: I was a ski patroller at Dodge for 27 years, and three generations of my family have skied/boarded there).

Three kids and friendly Dodge Ridge instructor enjoy sunshine!

Dodge Ridge offers gentle terrain for learning and works to teach the masses to ski and ride; it also offers incredible tree skiing and advanced terrain, with about 40% rated for advanced skiers. Dodge Ridge’s skiable 862 acres extend far off to the east, to Chair 8 terrain with remarkable variety and stunning 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. Special season pass deals are offered for adults, youth 6-12 and seniors 65-81 through the end of October. Single day lift ticket pricing will soon be announced, and kids five and under and seniors, 82 and older, ski free. The year will be a celebration of Dodge Ridge’s long devotion to family skiing and family-focused fun.

Boarders on one of two Dodge Ridge Magic Carpet lifts.

For cross country skiing or snowshoeing fans, Dodge Ridge rents gear for each and cross country trails fan out from the base area as well as several places along the Dodge Ridge access road. Pinecrest, just below, also offers cross country and snowshoeing opportunities along the snowy lakeshore.

A majority of the route along all-weather Hwy. 108 above Sonora is below the snowline, which makes it one of the easiest ski commutes available. A wide range of lodging and dining options are available in the Pinecrest area, just three miles below the ski resort.

For more information, dodgeridge.com or phone (209) 965-3474. 

Contact Tim, tviall@msn.com, follow him at recordnet.com/travelblogHappy skiing in the Sierra!

This entry was posted in Central California, Northern California, Sierra Nevada and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.
  • Categories

  • Archives