You managed to pack up the car, bundle up the kids and hit the road for snow tubing at Mountain High. Whew! Congrats. Oh but wait, now you have arrived only to discover that it’s either sold out for the day or that your time slot isn’t until late in the afternoon. Now what do you do? Head up to the Grassy Hollow Visitor Center!
We headed up to Mountain High for snow tubing at the North Pole tubing park a few weeks ago only to be turned away (before 10 a.m. even!) as all tickets were sold out for the day. It was a major bummer, especially since there was very little snow on the ground otherwise. Not to waste our 1.5 hr journey to the mountains, we headed to the Grassy Hollow Visitor Center about 2.5 miles on from the tubing park. This is a great alternative to tubing or as an add-on if you have time to kill waiting for your timed tubing tickets.
We had a lovely morning chatting with rangers at the station, learning all about the animals in the area as well as letting the kids enjoy the hands on exhibits. There is a video presentation room in the back where the rangers will put on different videos (I say video, because I am pretty sure they are still using a VHS player in the back!) to suit the audience. During our visit the kids watched a very old video about trapping and relocating herds of big horn sheep as well as a cute show on the origins of Smokey the Bear. And then low and behold Smokey came out himself! This was a special treat for our park ranger loving son to finally meet Smokey the Bear!
Once you have explored the visitor center and warmed up, there are several low key hikes you can do in the area. The easiest and shortest being a 1 mile loop, partially on the Pacific Crest Trail. If you read our adventures at Vasquez Rocks, you will know my fascination with the trail and how excited I was to add another mile on to our total.
The 1 mile hike heads towards the direction of Canada and leads you on a gradual slope up into the trees and then back around to the road where you can easily walk back to the parking lot. During winter, the trail might have patches of snow, so be careful as you venture around. This is a fun trail for kids because the trail is near lots of fallen trees to climb on and even a teepee/fort made out of fallen sticks to investigate. Had we been more prepared for a hike, this would have been a fun place to spend more time exploring off the path a bit.
If you are looking for a little more of a hike, check out Inspiration Point and trail a bit up the road from the visitor center. It was busy the day we visited, so we didn’t do the hike up.
I also heard from the rangers that there was also an open play area near Jackson Lake that is great for snow play when there is snow on the ground. Warning – do not walk on the frozen lake even if others are doing it. The rangers said that every year people have to be rescued when falling into the lake. If you make it out to the lake for some snow play, let us know how it is.
Now that you have hiked and played, you are probably ready for lunch. We recommend heading back into Wrightwood town to Mile High Pizza in the main square. It is a small restaurant with only 2 large tables, but the quality and options of tasty treats are great. Be aware though, there is no restroom here, so find your way to the public toilets down the hill before parking!
If you still have time for more adventures, why not stop in at the Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Phelan, which is about 10 miles from Wrightwood. It’s an animal lovers paradise. Visitors can see reptiles, birds, big cats and even a llama. If you really want to make a splash, pay extra for the “feed the animals” experiences. This is a great cause, and a great facility well worth a detour to visit.
Check out our recommendations on other places to play in the snow near LA.
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