When the snow begins to fall, the video and images start circulating on social media and on television but many still wonder - where do you go if you want to play in the snow in San Diego?
If you're planning a visit to the snow you need to be aware of a few things.
Chains may be required if you want to get up on the Sunrise Highway or anywhere near the top of Mount Laguna, Mount Cuyamaca or Palomar Mountain.
You'll also need an "Adventure Pass" if you plan on parking for any length of time to go sledding.
Without it, you may end up with a citation and up to a $100 fine. The daily permits cost $5 and can be purchased at a number of vendors, Forest district offices, or the main Cleveland National Forest office at 10845 Rancho Bernardo Road in San Diego.
On weekends when it’s snowing or just after it has snowed, the U.S. Forest Service sets up information stations at Sunrise Highway and Interstate 8 to let you know about the parking regulations and the best places to go sledding.
The Laguna Mountain Lodge is a good destination. The owners know the mountain, the best places to go "legally" go sledding and they have oodles of snow clothing and equipment for sale.
If you plan on just "winging it" and figure you'll stop and sled at the first snow-covered hill you see, again, it could end up being a pretty expensive trip.
You can get fined without the proper permit. You can also get fined if you don't park your vehicle completely off the road and are a hindrance to either traffic or snowplows. You can also get fined if you park on private property without permission. It doesn't matter if other people are doing it. It's not uncommon to see a whole line of vehicles being cited for breaking the law.
Also, be sure you're ready for winter weather and winter-weather-driving. The chains are a must and make sure your vehicle is up to the trip. Chances are it's not used to freezing weather and you're probably not used to driving in ice and snow. Extra caution is necessary on all counts.
You'll need extra, dry clothing as well, especially socks, shoes or boots; a fully charged cell phone for emergencies and plenty of trash bags.
You can always tell how much snow the mountains get by all the trash you find when it melts. The rangers ask that you please take out of the park everything you brought it.