Idyllwild Winter Weather Preparedness

Idyllwild Winter Weather Preparedness

’Tis the season for potentially snowy weather - and we want to make sure you are prepared. Please read through the following and make sure you’ve got everything you need for a safe and fun stay in Idyllwild.

*IMPORTANT WARNING*: Failure to be prepared, including lack of chains or arriving after dark in snowy weather will have consequences - any and all of which you will be responsible for yourself. If you get stuck in the snow, if you can't get in the driveway because you arrived too late after check-in and the snow piled up, if you can't get up the mountain because you forgot to buy chains... all of those scenarios will be your sole responsibility. Names and contact info for local tow trucks and snow shovelers can be found here. Again, it is VITAL that you arrive before sundown on active snow days - arriving any later will be to your detriment. 


That’s the question on everyone's mind, and only Mother Nature knows the answer. Winter weather is notoriously unpredictable in Idyllwild - sometimes it snows as early as October, sometimes it doesn't snow until December - and we never know exactly what days. Sometimes it snows in May, often on Mother’s Day!

Regardless of the season, it usually snows just a few days at a time, and then melts away to chilly, but sunny days perfect for hiking. Check for the most accurate forecast up to 10 days before your stay. You can also check the Farmers Almanac for the most accurate predictions all year long (based on previous years) - but always be prepared for surprise weather changes. We recommend re-checking the weather an hour before you depart for the most accurate weather predictions.


Whether or not you will need them, depends on the weather. YOU MUST CHECK THE WEATHER and CALTRANS chain controls in the days leading up to, and immediately before departing on your trip. Please do not text us to ask about weather predictions or chains requirements, as liability prevents us from providing that information: you must check an accurate weather forecast source like The Weather Channel AND Caltrans Chain Controls. It is always a good idea to have chains if there is any chance of snow, as weather can change on a dime, and you don't want to be caught without them in a storm.

WHEN CHAINS ARE NEEDED: CalTrans requires chains when driving up or down the mountain on snowy days. FWD vehicles it is a MUST. Even if you have 4WD or AWD - ALWAYS CARRY CHAINS WITH YOU. If you have 4WD and Snow Tires, you most likely won't be required to put them on, but they may still stop you and ask for proof you have chains in your car.  Again, ***BE SURE TO CHECK THE WEATHER & CALTRANS BEFORE HITTING THE ROAD*** If you don't have chains with you in snowy weather, you will most likely be asked to turn around - CalTrans will not let you pass in either direction, up OR down the mountain. 

WHEN TO PUT THEM ON: There are usually signs on the road that say “chains required” - this is when you know you need to pull over and put your chains on (even if you have 4WD or AWD but don't have snow tires). Also, if the weather takes a sudden turn and you feel yourself slipping, pull over to the nearest TURNOUT and put on your chains. PLEASE do not stop in the middle of the road, you must use a TURNOUT. If you are driving a car without AWD or 4WD and snowy or icy conditions are predicted - PUT ON YOUR CHAINS BEFORE ascending or descending the mountain.

HOW TO PUT THEM ON: check out this helpful youtube tutorial featuring two capable women - YES - women can travel solo and still be ok as long as you are prepared!

PURCHASING: Some retailers will accept returns for unused chains, some will not. Be sure to CALL TO CONFIRM their policies before purchasing. It’s a really good idea to purchase chains down in the flatlands - you will pay much higher prices up here on the mountain if it suddenly snows and you need chains to get down. And you definitely won’t be able to return chains you buy on the mountain.

SUGGESTED RETAILERS: * We hear that WALMART will accept returns for unused chains * O’Reilly’s Auto Parts in Hemet usually accepts returns. $46 for passenger cars. $110 for trucks/SUV’s is the 2020 pricing at O’Reilly’s, but that could change. * Les Schwab Tire Center will sell you the proper chains for your vehicle, and then you can take them back (after April is what we hear) for a full refund with receipt. Keep the receipt in a ziplock with the chains. Call them for exact details... there’s one in Temecula on the way up.


No. Front wheel drive vehicles make it safely up and down the mountain all year long. Please see above about chains for your tires - these are especially important for FWD vehicles - you could definitely get stuck and/or find yourself in dangerous conditions if you come up the mountain without them. Stay safe - bring snow chains.


Unfortunately, no. Booking a home in the mountains in winter comes with the expectation that there may be snow, and we provide you with all the information you need to be prepared. Many people "hope & pray" for snow on the days they have booked - so try to reframe any fear or hesitance you may have and consider yourself quite lucky to be able to enjoy the experience! With the right amount of preparation - snowy weather is a WONDERFUL time to experience Idyllwild. 


First of all, don't panic. You aren't the first person this has happened to. Simply call these local resources for help, whether it be shoveling you out, or towing you out. Because all of the major roads are maintained by regular plowing, most people don't have trouble until they get close to their cabin. Depending on the hour you arrive, if you get stuck and cannot reach any of our local resources, you may need to abandon your car and walk to the cabin, or try to get a ride from our local car service. Please do everything you can to keep your car out of the road to avoid potentially dangerous circumstances. We will not be available to give rides, as it creates further liability that we don't have insurance coverage for in terms of having guests in personal vehicles. We hope you understand. 


A GUIDE TO IDYLLWILD IN THE SNOW, including a map of the best “snow play” spots in town for sledding, etc. (Please BRING YOUR OWN sled and/or snow toys, or plan to purchase them at Fairway Market, Forest Lumber, or Village Market.). Click this link, and scroll down to the section titled “Pine Cove, Idyllwild and Mountain Center Snow-Play Areas” for nearby snow play spots. Do NOT be tempted to sled down driveways onto the street. Stay safe out there! 

Snow Hikes are also a wonderful way to enjoy the snow. Some trails may be closed during snow, but others remain open - so don't be discouraged if the first place you hit is closed. A helpful tip is to google the name of your intended trail to see if there are any closure notifications BEFORE heading out. Looking for tips on how to prepare to hike in the snow? Check out this article here

Conditions: Wanna get a birds eye view of what conditions look like in town, and on the trails? Check out these awesome LIVE nature cams & road cams that will show you exactly what conditions look like in real time.

Wishing you happy vacation planning!


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