1. Big Bear Discovery Center
It is a must to start your trip at the visitor or information center when you are about exploring a park or forest. This is a good way to do a little research before you make a visit. Rangers are the local experts that they can help you find more information about the area. You can ask them the best advice on what to do, the condition of the current road, the trail conditions, steps to avoid or deal with grizzly bears and anything. If you go throughout the year, they have concerts and shows to enjoy.
2. Big Bear Alpine Zoo
If you visit the US, you can find two Alpine zoos there. One of them is next to Bear Mountain Ski Resort. At the zoo, you can find some interesting animals like snow leopard, arctic foxes, bald eagles, and black bears. Most of these animals are the native to the area.
3. Winter Skiing
This only happens if you visit the area in the winter. Big Bear is so popular for its ski spot in Southern California residents. It is the only area with superpipe in SoCal. There are some options for all levels, as well. For the Snow Summit, the area is great for family and a great place for inexperienced. Bear Mountain is the most popular choice for snowboarders.
4. Get On The Trails
Hike or mountain bike is what you should go through the San Bernadino Mountains. Whatever the fitness level, there are many options available to choose from. Castle Rock hike is one of the examples and it is one of the most popular trails to enjoy amazing panoramic views and the area is easy to access. The starting point of the trail is from Boulder Bay. After that, you can check out at Pine Knot Trail and Bertha Peak Trail. If you love mountain biking, you should check out at Skyline Ridge. Snow Summit is also a great to turn into the downhill mountain biking trail, especially in summer.
5. Big Bear Lake
There are many water activities in this location like a kayak, boat, or jet ski to hop and get out on the water. If you want a more relaxing activity, it is a great place for fishing. You can even catch bass, catfish, and trout.
Boulder Bay Park is one of the most popular spots in Big Bear, especially for a picnic. In this place, you will see the massive boulders together with the lake as the backdrop. The picnic tables are available with some relaxing space to stretch your legs.
7. Drive Through
The massive network of the dirt roads in this area makes you able to drive to the different trails and campsites. You can drive along the Holcomb Valley Scenic Drive with beautiful photography spots to enjoy. Visiting this place in the winter makes you should check the road conditions. You should drive 4WD and snow chains if you don’t end up with any problem to let you up there.
Best Photo Spots
Spend two days even are not enough to get all the photo spots in your list. Here are some best photo spots for your visit:
- Boulder Bay Park – The highlight is the rock formations
- Holcomb Valley Campground Area – Enjoy the short hikes to bring you to mountain pinnacles, boulders, and the Gold Rush
- Holcomb Valley Scenic Drive – The dirt roads with different options
- Snow Summit Chair Lift – Amazing views above the lake
- Moon Ridge Road – Driving up to the top for viewing from above
- Alpine Pedal Path – Walking and biking on the paved path
- Castle Rock Trail – The best place for panoramic views
- Pine Knot Trail – Get the beautiful views of the mountains with a moderate hike
- Cougar Crest Trail – Enjoy the great views with intermediate to advanced hike
- Stanfield Marsh Boardwalk & Wildlife Preserve – Enjoy above the water for the boardwalk
- Stanfield Cutoff / East End of the Lake – Best place for sunset
- Morton Peak Fire Lookout
- Butler Peak Lookout
- Strawberry Peak Fire Lookout
- Fawn Park – Lots of statues, dolls, and mannequins are waiting for your captures.
- Keller Peak Fire Lookout
- Prospect Park
Tips For Beginners To Visit Big Bear Lake
- If you are going to visit during the peak winter that is the third week of December to the third week of February, or in summer that is from July first to Labor Day, you should book accommodation in advance.
- If you are from LA, the direct route is Highway 330. The road is very curvy and mountainous. Sit in the front seat if you always get carsick. Or, take some Dramamine before riding.
- Avoid the mountainous roads by driving up i-15 and head to Victorville. After that, come down CA-18. It also means you are adding 30 miles to your driving distance.
- Take your time. Curvy and mountainous roads always take longer. When there is snow on the ground, it makes your riding is longer.
- Use the pullouts if cars are piling up behind you to let them by.
- Big Bear offers 7000’ altitude and more than 320 days of sunshine per year.
- The summer temperature is quite high, that is 77 and the low summer temperature is 45. The winter has high in the middle of 40 degrees and low temperatures in the middle of 20 degrees.
- Visiting this place in the winter means you must check the road conditions. The back roads need high clearance, snow chains, and 4WD.
- If you are using the snow chains for the first time, you should have a little time to practice putting them before leaving.
- Bing layers since it can get warm during the day but even getting colder at night especially at higher elevations.
- If you want to avoid crowds, you should visit the easy-to-access spots early in the morning.
Those are all things you must know about visiting Big Bear Lake if you are beginners.