December is a Winter Wonderland in Calaveras

Perhaps it’s the fact that the fall colors seem a little more vibrant than previous years, or that we’ve already had a few chilly storms come through our region, but winter feels like it’s in the air.   With another round of snow on the way this week and El Nino predictions abounding, you can feel the excitement here in Calaveras for a fun and wintry holiday season.

The view from Bear Valley Mountain

The view from Bear Valley Mountain

The 2015-16 season has just launched at Bear Valley Mountain resort for downhill skiing and snowboarding. The recent storms have provided an ideal snow base to begin operations, and cold temperatures have allowed for additional snow making on 100 acres of their terrain. “We’ve been out packing snow throughout the mountain to ensure great coverage and a solid base,” says Mattly Trent, Director of Guest Safety, “winter has been shaping up nicely here in Bear Valley.” They’ll be running lifts on weekends from 9:00am-4:00pm until December 19, then seven days a week for the rest of the ski season.

Last weekend was also the season opener for Bear Valley Cross Country, where you’ll find 38 trails groomed for track and skate skiing and snowshoeing on over 3,000 acres. They offer a full service sport shop for equipment rentals and sales, as well as options for sledding and tubing.

It’s shaping up to be a white Christmas – and New Year – and what better way to spend the holidays than in a cozy cabin at 7,000 feet in the Sierras? Be sure to check out Bear Valley Lodge for their current packages and availability. Bear Valley Real Estate will set you and your family up in a rental cabin or condo located near the ski shuttle.

Bear Valley Snowmobile

See the forest from the seat of a Bear Valley Snowmobile

Perhaps you need a little more speed for your glide over the snow.  Consider renting a snowmobile for the day from Bear Valley Snowmobile.  If you’ve never driven a snowmobile through the mountains, you’re in for a huge treat. With breathtaking views and beautifully groomed trails, you’re sure to enjoy the outdoors in a whole new way.  They have options for the whole family, including kids as young as two. Besides renting snowmobiles, owners Greg and Sandy offer VIP homeowner valet service to Bear Valley residents, SKI DOO servicing for those who own their own snowmobiles, and SKI DOO sales.

Regardless of when you come up, the trip to Bear Valley is a great winter adventure, as you travel along Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway, through towering trees with views of the snow-capped Sierras.   Check in with Sierra Nevada Adventure Company and Ebbetts Pass Sporting Goods in Arnold for gear rentals and updates on snow and weather conditions. They also sell Sno-Park parking permits, which you’ll need if you want to venture out on snowshoes or backcountry gear in the high country. Bear Valley Cross Country is also a good resource for outdoor gear and snow safety information.

For a fun small town winter tradition, head to Murphys on December 4 for the Holiday Open House and Parade. Shops stay open late, offering holiday treats and the streets are filled with locals and visitors celebrating the season. Also kicking off this evening is the Holiday Festival of Wines, with many of the town’s wineries offering music, small bites and big sales!   The festival will continue through the weekend at participating wineries.

Murphys Holiday Open House and Parade
Murphys Main Street
December 4, 5:00-8:00pm

Festival of Wines – featuring Calaveras Winegrape Alliance member wineries.
Various Locations throughout Calaveras County
December 4, 5:00-8:00pm
December 5-6, 11:00am-5:00pm

Mountain Ranch Christmas Parade
Main Street, Mountain Ranch, CA 95246
December 12, 2:00pm

Mokelumne Hill Open House

Horse-Drawn Hay Rides at Mokelumne Hill Open House

December 13 Mokelumne Hill hosts their annual Holiday Open House and Artful Celebration in conjunction with Petroglyphe Gallery.  The gallery will be offering 20% off most of their regular priced jewelry lines—specifically for this event. Find those unique & special gifts from the gallery’s selection of fine art & jewelry with free signature gift wrapping.  Have a photo taken with Santa at the Historic Hotel Leger and take a Horse-Drawn Hay Ride down Main Street. Merchants will be offering special activities such as face painting by Leslie Vasquez at Petroglyphe Gallery and Reindeer Games at McHale’s Revival.  Mokelumne Hill comes to life with a special day for the whole family.

Mokelumne Hill Open House and Petroglyphe Reception
Main Street, Moke Hill, CA 95245
December 13, 2:00-7:00pm

Winter Wonderland at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Winter Wonderland at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

How about a snowy carriage ride among the giant sequoias? Mark your calendars for the annual Winter Wonderland celebration at Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Enjoy games, prizes, music, hot beverages and treats – but grab your tickets early because this one sells out every year!

Winter Wonderland at Big Trees State Park
December 29, 11:00am-4:00pm
Tickets: $12.50 adults / $8.50 children under 12
Order online at or call 209-795-1196 for more info.

Don’t forget to download our 2015 Holiday Shopping Guide to help you navigate all the great small businesses and gift shops here in Calaveras County.  You’re sure to find something for everyone on your list!


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