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Driving To Big Bear During The Winter Months – Some Advice

This post is inspired by the pleasure (not really) I had of driving off of the mountain recently, and to educate those who plan to make the trip to Big Bear this winter.

With all the snow we have received so far, the driving conditions on the various Hwys. and roads to & from Big Bear are bad.  Couple that with the thousands of people who are trying to come up or leave the mountains, and you have some pretty frustrating & dangerous driving conditions.

Weekends are typically the worst, especially after a good snow storm. The local news stations really pump it up, and that is great.  But, that brings a lot of people to the mountains.  Add the bad road conditions and lots can go wrong.

I have a lot of clients that come up on the weekends to look at property and just getting to Big Bear can be tough.

Here are few tips to help prepare yourself before you come up to Big Bear this winter –

The drive up the hill can take anywhere from 1 to 4 or 5 hours.

It is important to know that there are three Highways that come up to Big Bear.  Most people are familiar and use what we call the “front way” up to Big Bear.  This is the route up to Big Bear on Hwy. 330, which intersects Hwy. 18 in Running Springs and then up to Big Bear. While this is the quickest way during normal traffic and driving conditions, there is nothing normal during winter. Using this route during the winter is playing against the odds.

The other routes, which can take 15-45 minutes longer during normal traffic and road conditions, can be a lot quicker during the winter months.  Taking Hwy. 38 from the Redlands area is my best bet during winter. There is generally a lot less traffic on this route and a more enjoyable drive. The other route is through the high desert, Victorville and Lucerne Valley area, from Hwy. 15 to Hwy. 18 and up the “back way” to Big Bear. This is probably the safest bet to eliminate traffic and less mountain driving. Both of these routes drop into the east end of the Valley, near Big Bear City.

It is all a bit of a gamble, but as they say in Big Bear, “going east is least,” so I would recommend taking the latter two options prior to heading down the “front way”.  This especially applies to those who come up for the day to go skiing, look at property, or just enjoy the mountains.

Bring chains and other items.

This goes without saying, but many people still make this mistake.  Even with 4-wheel drive, it is important to carry chains with you at all times when driving in Big Bear during the winters months.  If they are checking for chains and you don’t have them with you, you may have to drive all the way back down and buy some.

It is always nice to have a shovel just in case you need to dig out, or help someone else dig out.  A first aid kit, along with some rope for towing would be good to carry as well.

Check the road conditions.

The road conditions can and do change at any moment.  Falling rocks, accidents, land slides, you name it, it can happen and close down these roads.  Be sure to check before leaving, and maybe even give your real estate agent, or local friend or contact, a call before heading up.

Here are some recommended sites to check on road conditions & chain requirements.

Cal Trans

KBHR 93.3

Rim of The World

Big Bear Road Conditions on Twitter

Don’t park or stop on/along the Hwy.

I see this all the time and it is really a major pet peeve of mine.  People will just stop in the road, or partially on the side of it.  They are either trying to put chains on, looking for a spot to go sledding, or whatever else.  Not only is it dangerous, it slows everyone else down.  There are plenty of place to go sledding or put chains on.  Try to find one that is not in the middle or next to a major Hwy. with a lot of traffic.

Snow in Big Bear is not a new thing.  It is one of the main reasons why people buy homes in the area and is also a fun part of the year.  Getting to Big Bear during this time of year can be stressful, but keeping some of these tips in mind might just help lower that stress level.


  1. Thanks for the great info. My family is planning a trip to Big Bear on a weekend very soon. We also have a Jack Russell. They are great dogs. We don’t have a lot of experience driving in snow. Are there places along the way where people will put the tire chains on for you? We will be staying at the Apple’s Bed and Breakfast. We’re coming from Santa Maria and are thinking about taking the high desert route since it seems this “back way” might serve us better. Please write back with any advice….thanks, Jesse

  2. Hey Jesse –

    Thanks for the comment. Yeah, Jack Russells are a unique breed!

    I think it depends on when you come up. Right now, the road are pretty clear and you don’t have to worry as much. If we get another storm before you come up, scratch that.

    I know there are people sometimes that will hang out along the front way up to help put on chains (about 10-15$) but not necessarily on the back way. Either way, you might want to practice putting them on once before coming up to Big Bear. That way it is not totally new when you do it.

    I do recommend the back way from your location. Have a safe trip up!

  3. So I’ve never been up to Big Bear but am planning a trip with my family fairly soon, this weekend in fact. We own a minivan and my partner is very nervous that a minivan won’t cut it in such terrain. Do you recommend we rent an SUV with rear wheel drive instead?

  4. Hello Claudia,

    It really all depends on the weather this week and how the roads are. Right now, they are fine and the minivan will work. But, we are supposed to get some snow/weather this week. I would recommend at least a front wheel drive car, but an SUV with all-wheel or 4-wheel drive is better. Either way, you should have chains just in case.

  5. what is the safest way to go to big bear this weekend from ventura county?

  6. Hello Brenda,

    You can come the front way, very safe and clear right now, just might take more time with traffic. From Ventura, the 101 to the 210 East all the way to the 330 up to Running Springs and the 18 to Big Bear. Or, less traffic is coming thru the high desert, either the 126 or going thru Simi Valley to the 14 and then Pear Blossom Highway over to the 18 the back way thru Victorville. Might be a little more time but less traffic. Good luck!

  7. Hi thanks for taking time to view this…I have been invited to go to Big Bear in the next couple of days and am absolutely terrified of heights/ cliffs!!! Is the back road that you talk about really cliffy? If so how long is that part of the drive? Is it steep the whole way up or hlf way? I would be coming from Studio City, Ca. Thank you!!!

    • Hello Brittney,

      I would recommend Hwy 38 thru Redlands as the best. Take the 10 or 210 to the 10 and get off at University in Redlands, go left (north) about 2 miles, then you will see Hwy 38 to Big Bear. There are not that many cliffs and the traffic should be less. You can also try the back way thru Lucerne but that could take a while. The mountain drive is less but there are a couple steep spots plus longer drive.

  8. Hi,
    I know Brittney has already asked, but for my peace of mind I would like to see if there are any pictures available of the drive going up to Big Bear. I am very terrified of heights and cliffy roads as well. All my children want to go up there, but because of my fears I have prevented that from happening. I want to know which route is the least cliffy and windy. Please help out, oh and we would be coming from Encino Ca. Thanks

    • Hello Lucy,

      I am sure there are some pics out there online if you look hard enough but I don’t have any. The front way from Hwy 330 and Hwy 18 is probably the steepest & scariest. So, I’d recommend Hwy 38 thru Redlands or Hwy 18 thru the High Desert – that is the least amount of mountain driving and should be less scary for you. All are a little windy but the last option sounds like the best for you and your family.

  9. i am coming from redondo beach whats the safest way to get there to big bear do i need chains?i am coming march27 staying 4 days what else should i bring hate the snow i love to surf but gf wants to go lol thank you anyway great comments realy appreciate your kindness replying to all this people best wishes

    • Tyler Wood says

      Hello Louis,

      Thanks for the comment and questions. Safest way? I think the back way thru the high desert is probably the safest as it has the least amount of mountain driving. All are pretty safe to be truthful, just take your time and drive carefully. The front way, hwy 330 is still closed for road work. Hwy 38 is one of the prettier drives but is about 45 minutes of mountain driving as compared to about 15 minutes on the back way. We are supposed to get a lot of snow this weekend, not sure about the 27th. Be sure to check the weather before coming up. https://www.bensweather.com/ I always recommend having chains with you during the winter months, just makes sense in case you get in a bind. So, yes, I’d recommend having some with you. I’d bring some snow boots or shoes, pants, jacket in order to have some fun in the snow. You can rent a lot of the stuff too at a local ski shop should you decide to go that route. Have a great time!

  10. Hi!
    My daughter is going to Big Bear this weekend. I am so worried about her driving there. We live in LA County. What would be the best route, with the least about of cliffs and windy roads for a nineteen year old?

    • Tyler Wood says

      Hello Alisa,

      The quickest route is the front way, up 330. Easily accessible from the 10 or 210 freeways. It’s pretty safe, and the roads shouldn’t be too bad. We may get some snow this week so keep tabs on that. Hwy 38 is a bit longer, less cliffs. Hwy 18 thru the high desert from the 15 freeway is the least amount of mountain driving. So, that may be the safest, it just takes 30-45 min longer to get here.

      Safe travels!


  11. What is the safest way to Big Bearfrom Anaheim, CA? We are not in a rush to get there, we are mainly concerned with safety. Also, what is the best time to drive up to Big Bear? We are planning on leaving tomorrow, Saturday the 27th. Thank you!

    • Hi Karen,

      All of the routes up to Big Bear are safe right now (no snow on the roads), though 2 of the 3 have more mountain driving. The route up from the 15 freeway thru Apple Valley and then up the back way up Hwy 18 has the least amount of mountain driving & traffic. That route will add about 20-30 minutes of driving, though with all the traffic coming up the other 2 ways, it might be about the same amount of time. Hope that helps.

      • Hello! We are headed up to Big Bear this weekend and coming back on MLK Day. We see storm’s will be hitting Big Bear and feel terrified coming back on Monday. What do you advice?

  12. Hi Tyler! I am planning a trip to big bear for the first time. I want a place where I can just sled with my kids and make a snowman. Do you know a place where I can do that? Do I have to pay parking or parking is only for attractions like snow play?

  13. What is the safest way to Big Bear from Orange, CA? We are not in a rush to get there, we are mainly concerned with safety. And do all front and rear wheels have to have chains or just the rear tires? Also, what is the best time to drive up to Big Bear? We are planning on leaving Friday January 8.

  14. Hi
    I am going up to big bear in two weeks and I was thinking of going the Redlands route but to be honest this is my first time driving a mountain and I’m terrified… Any tips ?

    • Tyler Wood says

      Hi Erika,

      The roads should be totally clear in two weeks. They are clear now. 🙂 The weather is supposed to be really warm the next week or so as well.

      Always check the road conditions before your trip, and be sure to have chains with you for the car. https://kbhr933.com/big-bear-roads/

      If the roads are clear, the front way thru Hwy 330 or back way thru Hwy 38 (Redlands) will be fine. If there’s a lot of snow, coming up the back way Hwy 18. thru the high desert is the best option in my opinion.

  15. Hi Tyler
    We are going to Big Bear Mar 4-6 from Mission Viejo. I’m a big baby when it comes to heights and cliffy roads. The roads will likely be clear on the way up but there’s some snow expected on our way down. What are the safest, least scariest routes? Thanks so much for your advice.

    • Tyler Wood says

      Hi Cherie,

      The roads should be clear, and snow isn’t expected til Sunday or Monday. They are clear now.

      Always check the road conditions before your trip, and be sure to have chains with you for the car. https://kbhr933.com/big-bear-roads/

      If the roads are clear, the front way thru Hwy 330 or back way thru Hwy 38 (Redlands) will be fine. Hwy 330 will be the most busy however, with the 38 less busy. If there’s a lot of snow, coming up the back way up Hwy 18. thru the high desert is the best option in my opinion. That route is usually the least busy and less mountain driving, it just adds about 30 min to the trip.

      I hope you have a great trip.

  16. Should the roads be clear on Tuesday after its snowed for two days?

  17. Hi Tyler,

    We are supposed to drive to Big Bear this weekend and we do not have four wheel drive, so we have to put chains on. We watched a you tube channel of how to put them on, but is there anywhere they put on chains for you before you go up the mountain? I heard in Tahoe they have places you can pay to have someone put them on for you.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Chelsea,

      There should be plenty of people out there looking to make a buck by installing chains. I think the front way up Hwy 330/18 would have more people than Hwy 38. I am not sure how many installers there would the back way up thru Hwy 18 thru the high desert. We are expecting some more weather this weekend, so be sure to have chains and drive careful. Also, plan for 1-3+ hours extra on your commute as the roads can be pretty special with lots of drivers out there. Take care.

  18. Heather Hull says

    Hi Tyler,
    My sister invited me to stay at their rented cabin in Big Bear for a couple days in the middle of January 2017. There’s just one problem. I would have to drive by myself in my 2012 camry from Huntington Beach to Big Bear and meet up with the rest of the family. I have mixed feelings about this adventure. To be honest, I have never driven in the snow before. What do you think? Should I go? Any driving suggestions. Im terrified I won’t be able to call my family in case of an emergency. Is there cell reception? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hello Heather,

      I would check the weather conditions several days before the trip in order to make that decision. If we are expecting snow, I’d really consider how much you want to come up. Also, check the road conditions as well. As long as the roads are clear – no chains needed – and no snow is expected, I think it is pretty safe. Either way, I’d recommend having chains with you, just in case. The easiest way to get up here with less mountain driving is the back way thru Victorville and Hwy 18. Cell reception is spotty on the way up the hill (Verizon is best). So, be sure to check the road conditions and weather forecast several days before your trip. If there’s any sign of snow, you’ll want to consider the risk & reward. Hope that helps.

  19. Hello Mr Tyler Woods,
    I am horrified with heights and steep cliffs but my husband is adamant to go to Big Bear tomorrow on new Year’s Day! I don’t want to go specially when it’s raining, ! but just to be on the safe side, even with our SUV is with four wheel drive, do we still need to bring chains with us?

    Thank you so much!

  20. I am planning on going to Big Bear this weekend. We are driving up Friday from Orange County. Its supposed to snow on Friday. What’s the safest way for us to get there?

    • Driving up the back way thru the high desert, taking 15 freeway to Victorville (Bear Valley Rd.), then and up Hwy. 18 thru the east end of town has the least amount of mountain driving and should be the safest, with least amount of traffic.

      • Is it okay for us to drive up in the snow? We want to go for two nights (Friday and Saturday night), but we can only stay for one night if we go up Saturday morning. I am also hearing of a lot of people headed there this weekend and I think most people are going Saturday morning. I am hoping to miss some traffic by going up on Friday morning. I don’t want to do the drive if its unsafe though. If we do the back way, is it okay in the snow? Do we need to watch for road closures or check to see if its plowed or anything? Do you recommend we only do Saturday night because of the Friday snow forecast?

  21. Hi tyler how are you? We are planning to go to big bear this coming weekend to stay for 2 nights we have never drive on snow and im very afraid of cliffy i have a big family but i don’t want to have a bad experience could you tell me whats the safety way to arrive if is snowing we are coming from long beach o and thanks for your advice

    • Tyler Wood says

      Hello Linda,

      It’s going to be a busy weekend with 3-5 feet of snow expected, starting on Wed. evening thru Monday. Please be sure to have chains with you and a good idea of how to put them on. Driving up the back way thru the high desert, taking 15 freeway to Victorville (Bear Valley Rd.), then and up Hwy. 18 thru the east end of town has the least amount of mountain driving and should be the safest, with least amount of traffic. I think the 10 freeway to the 15 north is the easiest.

  22. Tiffany Love says

    Hi Tyler,
    I’m going to Big Bear this upcoming weekend with a few girlfriends (checking in Saturday leaving Monday). We are aware of the storm that is approaching which is making us a bit nervous for the drive. Do you think we should be ok for the drive as long as we drive EXTREMELY careful and have chains? The cabin we booked has a strict cancellation policy and we’re not sure if we should just go or take the loss and not go because of our safety. Also, if you do feel we should be fine for this weekends drive. What would be the safest route? We’re coming from Pasadena area. Thank you!

    • Tyler Wood says

      Hello Tiffany,

      I think you’ll be safe. It just might take a little longer to get to Big Bear than usual. I’d recommend you try to install the chains (as practice) before you get up here just to make sure they are easy to install and there’s no hiccups. You don’t want the first time you try to install them to be in the middle of a snow storm on a mountain road. There’s some people you can hire that will install the chains on the way up, worst case scenario. The 210 freeway to the 15 freeway north, and up the back way thru Victorville via Bear Valley Road & Hwy 18. will be the quickest, and least amount of mountain driving. Take it slow, use the chains, and you should be fine.

  23. Hi Tim. I just hit ice on 38 bear onyx summit (sat). Now I’m scared to drive down. Is there anyone who will drive my car down for a fee? Or do u recommend I take 18 backway? I realize it will be warm so while I me be clear of ice I expect roads to be wet. It is the windy and wet that scares me

  24. Hi Tyler great article. My family and I wanted to head up Saturday Feb 18th and I have a 2014 Dodge Challenger. I’m concerned my car is too low to the ground to make it there. Do you think I will have trouble getting there? Thank you so much for your advice.

    • Hello Ron,

      We are expecting some weather Thursday the 16th thru the following Monday. Snow is expected. That said, it could be difficult with a lower clearance car. Be sure to have chains if you do come, but I’d recommend monitoring the weather sites to see how much snow we are expecting before making the call on that.

      • Hello Tyler,
        I have the same concern as Ron. I will be driving with Acura TL, which also has very low ground clearance. Would you recommend getting an SUV and also advise if you know the best time to travel to bear the mountain traffic. We will be coming from Laguna Beach.


        • Hello Jay,

          The main issue will be the clearance. Depending on the snow amount, 1-2 feet is expected from Friday night thru Sat., and if the roads are cleared, will answer your question. Generally speaking, yes, the higher the clearance the better. But, mainly people driving in Big Bear during snowy conditions with lower clearance cars. The main thing to to check the road conditions thru Cal-Trans, have chains, and make the call from there. Here’s a good site to track the weather as well https://www.bensweather.com/ Big Bear is notorious for getting a lot less snow than expected. We could get 1-3 inches too, you never know. That’s why it’s good to have chains and keep informed via the sites above. Thanks.

  25. Hello Tyler,
    I’m coming up with my son this weekend,If you could Please let me know the least cliffs and least windy way to get to big bear from San Diego, I really don’t like driving where there’s cliffs thank you! :).

    • Tyler Wood says

      Hi Lauren,

      Hwy. 38 coming up from Redlands with have less of the “cliff” driving, but it’s a bit longer of the total mountain driving. Coming up Hwy. 18 from the high desert and Victorville area is the least amount of mountain driving, but has a few of the “cliff” sections. Roads should be open and clear, so you should be safe going either way. Take care.

  26. Hi Tyler,

    We are planning a trip up to Big Bear Dec. 15 i’m wondering how the roads are during that time? We are also thinking of renting a 15 passenger van as it is a lot of us. Do you think it would be safe? Or should we go in separate cars? Thank you!

    • Hello Cynthia,

      It would be best to check the weather & road conditions as we get closer to the 15th. Right now, they are dry and clear. But, a snow storm could change that all. It really depends on the weather. Here’s a good site to track the weather as well https://www.bensweather.com/

      Not sure which option is the safer for driving, but I’d be sure to have chains on standby in case they are needed. You don’t want to be caught driving in the mountains in the winter without chains. I hope that helps!!

  27. Hello! Thank you for such a great site! Do you recommend a close sledding or just letting the little ones play in the snow area–without committing to BB? We are coming from Temple City! Thank you. Happy New Year!

    • Tyler Wood says

      Hi Arden,

      Given the lack of snow this year, there’s not a lot of free spots to sled. You are really stuck with the pay to sled options. There is one just before Snow Valley ski area, about 15-20 min before Big Bear that you can try, or there are two local options in Big Bear to try. Drive safe!

  28. Katie Roner says

    Best way to come up from San Diego the weekend of March 2nd? I think snow is forecasted and we have chains… do they still have people you can pay yo put them on for you? Snow driving scares me!

    • Hi Katie,

      I’d recommend the back way thru the Hight Desert coming up the 15 freeway to Bear Valley Road. There’s less traffic and mountain driving. Regarding the chains, sometimes there are people you can pay to put them on, but they are generally located more on the front way up Hwy 330. I’d recommend a dry run, trying to put them on before you make the trip. That way you’ll be familiar with how to put them beforehand.

      Hope that helps!

      • Andrew Campa says

        Hey there! I’m gonna be heading up to big bear at the Lagonita Lodge for the weekend through the 16th-17th. I have never driven on icy roads before let alone the snow. I have a 2010 Camry. It’s supposed to snow Thursday and Friday and I plan to leave Friday morning. I’m coming from Whittier, CA. Whats the safest way to drive? Not a huge fan of cliffs and mountain driving. Any tips, or suggestions? It’s greatly appreciated.

  29. Hey Tyler!
    There may be some snow when I drive up to Big Bear, I’m definitely taking chains. Any particular you recommend? Or are ANY tire chains ok? I’ve seeing some on Ebay that are pretty inexpensive but some are actual chains and some are belts. Will either work? Is there a certain type that are ONLY permitted? Also, I’m going to be driving up there at night (for the first time) so of course I’m a bit nervous. Any suggestions? Thank you!

  30. HI Tyler! We are coming up this Tuesday, and I know Big Bear just got 12-14 inches of snow from the last storm. From your article, we are going to practice chains first, however, do you think that taking a 2016 prius or 2014 BMW 528i would be safe to take up there? or should we be renting a different car for the drive? I really appreciate your input and amazing article!!

    • Hi Nikki,

      Roads are totally clear at this point, so I’d say you are good with whatever, but always a good idea to have chains with you and check the weather before you come.

      I hope you have a nice trip!

  31. Hi Tyler,

    We had planned on driving up the 18 tomorrow (01/12) but I am seeing snow in the forecast all day. Is it best to travel on the day after it snows? We have front wheel drive and chains.


  32. Hi my family and I rented a cabin President’s day weekend Feb 15th-18th
    what is the best route with the least amount of traffic to take from Simi Valley?
    This will be my first time in the snow yay!

  33. Tammy Munguia says

    Is it safe to drive to Big Bear after 5pm Friday, Feb1,2019?

  34. We’re going up from Orange County on Saturday. Any suggestions on best time of day (early morning? late morning? FYI check-in is 3pm) and path (any road closures to be mindful of?) given the holiday + recent/current storm? We’re looking to avoid traffic as much as possible. Thanks in advance!

  35. irene melendez says

    Hello I’m heading up to big bear this sat driving from LA which gwy donyou recomend I know they. Closed the highways last weekend due to snow.. I know where will be snow today & tomorrow please advise. Is there a location to purchase or rent chains?

  36. Cari Sherman says

    Hi there! I know this group is from a year ago but wanted to check in. We’re drivinh up to big bear this weekend with our toddler and dog, and I am terrifiedddd of windy scary mountain roads. Which route do u think is less windy and scary? 38 or the back way from high desert? I don’t care how long it takes haha just want to not panic lol! Thanks!!

    • Tyler Wood says

      Hi Cari,

      Yes, Hwy 18 through the high desert is the best way to come if you are concerned about that. It is less mountain driving for sure.

  37. Hello we are driving up there wed 20th and coming back down Friday the 22nd. We live in Yuma AZ and are scared about driving in snow. Will our Sentra drive through that? do we need chains?

    • Tyler Wood says

      Always best to have chains with you in the winter months. I’d check the weather forecasts before coming as well. We are supposed to get a foot of snow over the next 24 hrs, but the weather appears to be clearing up after that. It shows clear on those dates as of this moment, so roads should be clear.

  38. Hi. Thanks for the helpful info. If we’re driving from San Diego in December, what route would you recommend? I’m guessing we’ll have snow and prefer to minimize mountain driving in case the weather is bad.

  39. Hello, we are going to big Bear this Tues before Thanksgiving. Snow isn’t supposed to start until late that night so I’m not worried about getting up there (we are in Santa Clarita and will probably go the back way). But looks like a big storm and my husband has to drive back Fri morning (day after Thanksgiving) to go to work. He will be going to Glendale. Assuming we don’t get totally snowed in what is the safest way for him to get to Glendale in snowy conditions? We have chains of course but not a lot of snow driving experience. Thank you.

    • Hi Natalie,

      The easiest way with less mountain driving would be the back way through Victorville. It will add 30 min or so to the drive, but depending on the snow levels, could be the safest and easiest.

  40. Dan Del Rossi says


    We are supposed to be headed up to Big Bear for the thanksgiving holiday – arrival during the day weds! I see there is supposed to be a large storm all day long is it safe to travel up in those conditions?

    We are coming from Vegas

  41. Thought it would be a good idea to spend Thanksgiving in Big Bear for the first time; however, at time of booking had no idea about the winter storm expected. We are supposed to drive up Wednesday and leave Friday. For zero experience snow drivers the snow is definitely a concern getting there but also getting out. With it being a holiday everything is booked for the weekend. Do the streets get cleared often or is there a high chance we could get stuck there and get get down the mountain. Coming from Pasadena 210 area.

  42. Hello, please I want to know if there is any transportation/shuttle to go to big bear from Los Angeles o San Bernardino; i have no experience driving in snow and I want to avoid it. I’m going between december 24 to january 1st 2019. Thanks for your answer.

  43. Hello! We’re going up to big bear this weekend and there is supposed to be snow on the drive up. I’m a little stressed out thinking about the drive there and back. We have a Subaru wrx that’s 4 wheel drive but we also have a eclipse cross suv that is front wheel drive. Which one would be safer to take? And we’re coming from Los Angeles.

  44. Hello,

    A few questions as my family are heading up to Big Bear on Nov 19-Nov 23.
    1. Snow at this time?
    2. I have chains, is there a really need in Nov?
    3. Do you know what a dog should wear in the snow?
    4. Do trash can lids work for kids sliding in the snow?
    5. How much longer is the back way through the Victorville/Hesperus area?
    6. What should we bring if staying in a cabin with limited amenities?

    Thanks I’m advance.

  45. Hi Tyler! I just wanted to comment my thanks for you maintaining this thread for over 10 years! 🙂 I got the answers I needed from your previous responses. I’ll be heading up for Christmas, driving from San Diego with 3 kids. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

  46. I just want to thank you for this post, sir. We’re in Big Bear right now and took the high desert route for a relatively pleasant and stress free drive (except of course, the hairpin curves near the city.) Merry Christmas to you and your family and crew!

  47. Hi, we play to go to big Bear from Rancho Cucamonga 1/1-1/4, there will be rain and snow starting today; what will be the safest way to and from big Bear. Thank you!

  48. Kaleigh Brianne says

    Hey Tyler!
    I have never driven in snow and we are bringing our 3 year old… we will be in bear next Monday-Wednesday and will be driving up at night.. is this an awful idea? Will taking the back way be safe? What exactly is the back way when coming from Camarillo?

    • Tyler Wood says

      Hi Kaleigh! You should be fine, just be sure to check the weather and road conditions prior to leaving. If it hasn’t snowed the day or two before, the roads should be fine. You should always have chains just in case. You should check the weather for the time you will be in Big Bear as well. From Camarillo, you can come the back way via the 210 east to 15 north and then take Bear Valley Road. Or, come up through Santa Clarita and take the Pear Blossom Hwy. Hope that helps, and have fun!

  49. great thread, although your links to maps have died, so i had to build those on my own.

    • Tyler Wood says

      Thanks for the heads up Joe!

    • There’s a major storm warning this Tuesday through Saturday. Do they ever close the roads? That would make our decision to go easier (or safer) even though we’ve already got nonrefundable accommodations, lift tickets and rentals. Mom group with little to know experience driving in snow or with chains!! 😳

      • They do close the roads occasionally due to rock slides and/or super extreme weather, but it’s temporary and roads will open up within a few hours or day at maximum. I’d just give yourself extra time, maybe practice putting the chains on beforehand :-). It might take longer than expected, but a trip to the mountains is worth it!

  50. There’s a major storm warning this Tuesday through Saturday. Do they ever close the roads? That would make our decision to go easier (or safer) even though we’ve already got nonrefundable accommodations, lift tickets and rentals. Mom group with little to know experience driving in snow or with chains!! 😳

    • They do close the roads occasionally due to rock slides and/or super extreme weather, but it’s temporary and roads will open up within a few hours or day at maximum. I’d just give yourself extra time, maybe practice putting the chains on beforehand :-). It might take longer than expected, but a trip to the mountains is worth it!

  51. Hi there!

    I’m so grateful for all the advice. Me, my husband and kids plan to travel to big bear tomorrow with checkout on Sunday. There’s supposed to be a huge storm (the worst in a while) so I’m getting scared as this is the first time we’ve driven to the snow. We are coming from the Anaheim area in a Honda Pilot 2WD with chains. I also hate windy roads with a passion and the added snow makes my anxiety worse. It’s suppose to begin snowing again tomorrow afternoon. I know you said big bear is notorious for not getting the snow expected; do you think this apply for this week? Do you recommend us trying to get up to the mountain before it starts snowing again? It’s says it will start snowing again around 1pm with a huge storm Thursday and Friday. Also, at hotels, do they have people or machines shoveling snow so we can drive if it’s several feet high? Lastly, even with or without snow, is the “back way” considered the safest? Thank you for any advice you can provide 😃

    • I’d practice putting on the chains before you leave. You don’t want your first experience to be in the cold, snowy, conditions with cars around etc. There’s only a few windy roads on the back way so I’d go that way. I don’t know for sure on what the weather will do, but I’d plan to have some flexible timing, go slow, and you should be fine. Snow removal is pretty common for hotels, etc. You’d want to bring a small shovel and/or windshield brush, scraper to clean off the snow/ice in the mornings. Be sure to warm the car up first to help thaw things out! The back way is a little longer, but less mountain driving. It’s generally considered the safest way. Have a great trip!

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