Bear Valley: An Authentic Outdoors Experience
Tucked away between the California’s Sierra foothills and its mountainous peaks, Bear Valley is a small mountain ski resort located off CA Highway 4 between the well-treaded Lake Tahoe and Yosemite. Whether you’re an outdoors newbie or a seasoned trekker, Bear Valley is an ideal retreat for its ruggedness, seclusion, and small-town feel among a lush topography. Being that Bear Valley is also often overlooked only adds to its appeal.
Bear Valley Village is a community of about 200 family cabins without a distinct town center. For last-minute essentials, the local general store is just a five minute car ride away, or a 20-minute hike. For a convenient getaway, the lodging center is a low-frills option stripped of touristy luxury spas and hot springs, however you can schedule an appointment-only facial or massage to sate your more pampered needs .
The outdoors is experienced organically in Bear Valley: just you and nature. For most of the year the dense tree covered hills, hidden snow patches, and bird sightings--such as the Steller’s Jay and Chickadee--is always a view to behold. Simply enveloping yourself in nature is calming, meditative, and stress-relieving. And if you want the real small-town experience as well, a 30-minute car ride outside Bear Valley takes you to Calaveras County--a hip wine-tasting destination. And part of this intoxicating experience is Murphys, a quaint main-street mountain town robust with everything boutique: souvenirs, clothing, and over 20 wineries to warm you up for the cool nights.
Whether you book one of the village cabins online or by phone, winter-proof amenities detail every space. These include heaters throughout the cabins (using either natural gas or electric), A-frame rooftops, and Bear Lake sourced tap water. You can literally taste the snow of the Sierras--refreshingly crisp, clean, and chilled, so no need to pack bottled water! Moreover, cabin owners find that the water pipes are easily accessible to turn off and drain. The slanted A-frame roofs allows the snow to fall away easily before piling too high and causing damage to the roof. Typically the main rooms--kitchen, living room, family room, and etc., are intentionally located upstairs in case snow builds up and obstructs the view from the windows.
The beauty of Bear Valley is evident in its sky-scraping trees: the Alpines, Redwoods, and Sequoias. You’ll feel you’re off the beaten path, and away from the loud bustle of city-life. Practice mindfulness. Read a book. It may be easier without technological distractions. Do it because nature will pull you into the moment; it makes you feel and appreciate the transience of every leaf, thought, and breath. At least that’s been my personal take; and when you get back to your “normal” routine, take that centeredness with you. For those with a more terrestrial bent, Bear Valley offers primo terrain for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing in the winter and swimming, hiking, camping, kayaking, and golfing in the summer.
Go to Bear Valley for its solitude: the last traffic light between it and you is at the end of Main Street in Murphys.