A Brave Ski Mom interview with SoCal Ski Dad, David Knott, the father of two darling ski girls!
We choose Snow Valley, California. I enjoy skiing there with my two daughters who are 6 and 7 years-old.
Why Snow Valley?
I am an avid skier, so I like to ski as often as I can. Snow Valley is less than two hours from my home, so it’s convenient. Of the nearby ski resorts, it is also the most family-oriented. For example, kids under 6 ski free and adult tickets are less expensive than some nearby resorts.
What makes Snow Valley a great place for families?
We started skiing Snow Valley together when my daughters were 3 and 4 years of age. They started in ski school, with 1/2 and full day lessons and I was impressed with the low student-to-teacher ratio. The Children’s Learning Center has a good indoor play area, as well as a magic carpet on a very gentle slope.
Snow Valley also has a real “mom and pop” feel to it. It’s not too big, it’s safe and manageable. We often bring our lunch and then have a special treat of hot chocolate in the lodge.
The mountain, itself, isn’t super big, but it is fun and when there is enough snow a back section opens up. This back ridge has steeper terrain with moguls and a thinned out gladed section. You have to traverse to get to this ridge, but once you’re back there, it’s like your own private part of the mountain.
Additionally, there is a terrain park on the east side of the mountain with enough jumps and jibs to keep the snowboarders happy.
Best of all, despite being in Southern California, where crowds are always a consideration, the lift lines are rarely long. On weekends, there are sometimes 10-15 minute lines at the Thunder Mountain lift. This lift serves gentle green terrain and, consequently, most of the people in ski school. Two other lifts, lift 1 and lift 3, leave the base and go to the top of the mountain. They rarely have lines.
What would make Snow Valley even better for family skiing?
I do wish Snow Valley had some high speed chairs. But since they don’t, I just try to relax and chill on the slower lifts. I submit to the family run atmosphere and enjoy it!
Any “secrets” you are willing to share?
Snow Valley is definitely known as a beginner’s mountain, but you can also find harder terrain. A favorite run follows an “S” curve from top to bottom. This is a bombing GS run and skiing it is a blast on days when it is not too crowded. You don’t want to have to worry about causing mayhem!
There are also some shorter runs that are steep and a good place to work on skills.
My other secret is that if you like to sled, there is a great informal sledding hill nearby at Green Valley Lake. Green Valley Lake used to have a tiny ski hill with one or two lifts. After a fire about 10 years ago, it closed. Now its a great place for sledding!
What advice do you have for families visiting Snow Valley?
Snow Valley has a really big parking lot. You’ll never have a problem parking, but I encourage families to get there early. Kids always have more gear than they can handle. Since the parents end up carrying everything, why not park as close as you can?
While you can rent skis with your lesson package, this will also eat up a lot of time. We like to rent from a rental shop, Online Ski and Board Shop, in nearby Running Springs. You can get everything set up online, have some free coffee and even get a deal on your Snow Valley lift ticket.
Where do you like to eat?
Snow Valley makes a decent hamburger, but otherwise, the restaurants are in Running Springs. Some of the restaurants we enjoy are:
Old Country Coffee Shop and Diner: This diner is really popular with locals and visitors alike, so there could be a wait.
Neo’s Pizza: Neo’s is great for take-out or eat in. Lots of families eat here, so you can let the kids be noisy!
Toto’s Mexican: Toto’s has respectable, yummy family run mexican food. My measure of a decent mexican restaurant is how spicy their spicy salsa is, and I had to stop eating their spicy salsa after a few minutes because the heat had built up too much on my palate. Good stuff!
Blondie’s Bar & Grill: Blondie’s is kind of all by itself in between Running Springs and Snow Valley. Super friendly, big booths for families, and awesome burgers.)
Where do you like to stay?
Snow Valley doesn’t have much lodging. We usually try to stay in Green Valley Lake and book through VRBO.com.
What makes Snow Valley unique?
I would say Snow Valley is unique because it is sort of lost in time, in a good way! They pay a lot of attention to customer service. There is always someone there in a blue jacket when you need help.
What is your favorite memory of Snow Valley?
The first time I took my daughters skiing, I asked them how they liked it. It was the end of their first day. I really didn’t know what to expect. They answered, almost in unison, with resounding shouts of “yes we love skiing!” I knew I was definitely on the road to having two ski buddies.
When did you start skiing?
I grew up skiing in Michigan. My friends were talking about spending their weekends driving about 6 hours to Boyne Highlands, near Traverse City. It sounded like so much fun, that I started going. I joined the ski club and traveled to Blue Mountain in Ontario. There I encountered by first black diamonds. In college, my friends and I piled into a minivan and drove from Michigan to Steamboat. We skied for five days. After five days at Steamboat, my skills just exploded. It was an epiphany.
What is the best thing about family skiing?
We love the outdoors. Skiing lets me share the beauty and grandeur of a place with my daughters. We get to be on top of a mountain, which is not where we usually are. We also like the speed!
The Brave Ski Mom Adds…
Thank you so much David! Until I started writing The Brave Ski Mom two years ago, I had no idea that Southern California had skiing. I really appreciate readers, like David, sharing their favorite family resorts.
Snow Valley is located in Running Springs, California about 85 miles from Los Angeles. David hit many of the high points, but in addition to traditional daytime skiing, Snow Valley also has night skiing from 3:00 – 8:00 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays.
In addition to being a Brave Ski Dad of two daughters, David is an artist with Disney. Check out his website.
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