Bear Valley

Bear Valley is a high alpine village with lodging, restaurants, and visitor services. A year round destination, Bear Valley is an emerging center of family outdoor adventures—rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, and disc-golfing in the summer, and cross country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, sledding snowmobiling, and snowshoeing in winter. Bear Valley Mountain Resort is one of California’s finest mid-sized snow sport destinations with nine ski lifts accessing beginner through expert terrain. Bear Valley Cross Country offers 35 groomed trails on more than 3,000 scenic acres.

Each year the community hosts the Bear Valley Music Festival featuring music styles from classical and opera to Bluegrass and rock and roll under a circus big-top. The town is also host to the Bear Valley Century Ride, the Sierra Nevada Classic Soapbox Derby on Labor Day Weekend, and a numerous other sporting competitions and events.

Bear Valley was first named Grizzly Bear Valley for the abundance of grizzlies in the vicinity. In the early 1860s Harvey S. Blood of Angels Camp patented the land as a summer stock range. The toll road here became a public thoroughfare in 1910 and was incorporated into the State Highway System.

In 1952, the Orvis family purchased Blood’s Meadow, bringing their cattle up from the San Joaquin Valley to graze in the summer. Their son, Bruce Orvis, was instrumental in the initial development of the downhill ski area and Bear Valley Village, as well as a new highway from Camp Connell to Bear Valley. The downhill ski area opened in the winter of 1967/68. Planning is currently under way to develop a ski-in, ski-out destination resort village.

Linger Longer:

Bear Valley is a fine base area from which to explore the high country. For spectacular views of the Mokelumne Wilderness, follow the road to the ski area (Highway 207) to the end at Bear Valley Mountain Resort. In winter, snow removal stops just past the turnoff to the ski resort, where Highway 4 becomes a winter snow park.
  • Elevation: 7,100 ft.
  • Mile Marker: 25.1/35.9
  • GPS Coordinates: 38 27 57N -120 2 44W
  • Service Available: Biking, Car Clubs, Climbing, Cross Country Skiing, Disc Golfing, Downhill Skiing, Sno-Park, Food, Gas, Lodging, History, Museum