High Altitude Fourth of July: Mountain Parties

Cooler temps and fabulous fireworks? Mammoth and Big Bear have 'em.

SUMMER'S THIRD START: If you happen to be a SoCaler, you've probably gotten involved in a conversation many locals have, especially with people hailing from different climates or parts of the world. And the conversation involves this question: When does summer arrive in Southern California? The unofficial start, yes, is Memorial Day Weekend, which is right around the time kids start to get out of school and road-trippers head out on vacation. The official start, per the calendar and the sun, is June 21, when that ol' "longest day of the year" arrives in the Northern Hemisphere. But everyone living around Los Angeles and its environs knows summer starts after June Gloom goes. That makes the Fourth of July the second unofficial but totally actual First Day of Summer in Southern California. The late start also arrives with a late ending, by the by; Santa Ana winds around September and October goose summer temperatures right through Halloween, quite typically. So where will you fight the toastier temperatures that always arrive with Independence Day? By a pool, sure, or, even cooler, up in the mountains. Both Mammoth Mountain and Big Bear will be have pyrotechnic events on Saturday, July 4, so finding your milder climate for the holiday is all a matter of how far you want to drive.

BIG BEAR LAKE: The fireworks last about 30 minutes, making this water-close show a long one, as most fireworks shows go. Start time? The not-long-after-sundown hour of 8:45. Stuff to do up the mountain over the Fourth of July weekend? A scenic sky chair ride at Snow Summit, a lake swim, or the Ice Cream Safari at Big Bear Alpine Zoo on July 4.

MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN: The Eastern Sierra play place, know for its snowy fun in the winter, will boast not one but a few fireworks shows, depending on where you go. Crowley Lake and the plaza at Mammoth Mountain are two fine places to see the sky light up on July 4. There's also a "full weekend of festivities," too, including many family-focused to-dos.

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