Nestled into the San Bernardino Mountains, snow-fed Big Bear Lake is a popular spot for anyone embarking on a road trip through California’s picturesque mountains. Located just off Route 18, Big Bear Lake is easily reached from San Bernardino or Victorville and is less than a two-hour drive from much-loved Los Angeles.
Big Bear Lake and its surrounding areas were once a gold miner’s paradise. A man named William Holcomb first discovered the area’s gold-bearing properties in 1860. Whilst out tracking a bear’s blood trail, Holcomb was lead to a creek filled with specks of gold. This marked the beginning of Southern California’s largest gold rush and bought masses of people and investors to the area.
Nowadays, all that remains of this gold mining era are disused structures and relics hidden among the pine forests. More popular today, are the myriad of recreational activities available on the lake itself. Book an RV in San Bernardino County for your next getaway!
Although Big Bear Lake can be enjoyed at any time of the year, the winter and summer months are by far the best time to enjoy the myriad of activities that the lake has to offer.
When you rent a camper at Big Bear Lake during the summer, it is possible to enjoy many different watersports. With over 7-miles of the lake to enjoy, there is room for everybody to try a spot of kayaking, canoeing, jet skiing or parasailing. For those that have bought their own boat with them, launch it on to the lake using one of the public launch boat areas. Alternatively, rent a vessel from the parks marina for either half-day, full-day or multi-day use. While out on the water, why not try your hand at fishing for some of the lakes trout, bass or catfish. A modern addition to the lake is the Alpine Water Slide where visitors can pay a small fee for an exhilarating ride down the slide and into a heated pool!
Any visitors that are motorhome camping in Big Bear Lake during the winter months should be ready to wrap up warm! Sitting at an altitude of over one mile, Big Bear Lake sees heavy snowfall as early as October and as late as April, making it the ideal environment for ice fishing, skiing, and snowboarding. Operating as a ski-town since 1925, a day spent skiing on either Snow Summit Mountain or Bear Mountain is by far the most popular activity. Alternatively, head down to the less populated Big Bear Lake for a spot of ice fishing. The ice is not monitored here, so do remember to take every safety precaution and check the thickness of the ice along the way!
Hiking is an activity that can be enjoyed no matter what season you are camping with an RV near Big Bear Lake. With several different trails to choose from, all of the varying difficulty levels, visitors can opt for a trail that caters to their personal fitness. The Castle Rock Trail is one of the popular hikes to tackle. This 2.7-mile, easy-moderate trail sees steep elevation at the beginning but quickly plateaus to reward walkers with stunning panoramic views over Big Bear Lake and neighboring mountains.
Camping at Big Bear Lake
Camping near Big Bear Lake could not be easier thanks to the multitude of RV Parks and campgrounds scattered along the edge of the lake. Consider setting up camp with your rental RV at Holloway’s Marina and RV Park for some of the best boat rental facilities and direct access to the water. The park is just a five-minute drive or twenty-minute scenic stroll into the town of Big Bear Lake and offers full hook up facilities for every site as well as modern washrooms.
Those hoping for a remote motorhome camping experience consider staying at the Serrano Campground. Nestled into the pines on the northern shores of Big Bear Lake, this campground is a slightly more primitive affair, with no hookup facilities on offer. Instead, campers can use the onsite washroom facilities complete with hot showers and flushing toilets.
Exploring the Area
You don’t need to wander far from the Big Bear Lake to explore some of the other attractions in the area. In fact, some of the most fascinating and exciting attractions are located in the town of Big Bear Lake itself.
The Big Bear Alpine Zoo is a must-visit for anyone camping in an RV near Big Bear Lake. The zoo opened its doors as a rehabilitation center after a devastating fire swept through the San Bernardino National Forest in 1959. Providing a safe-haven for injured animals, once rehabilitated, the center would release the animals back into the wild. The zoo gradually grew over time and now comprises of a series of enclosures that represent over eighty different species. Take a visit with the family to learn about these animals and the zoo’s past and future conservation efforts.
Sitting so high up in the mountains, Big Bear Lake boasts some of the clearest skies in California. It is no surprise then that there is a huge solar observatory located there. Opened in 1997 and run by a private company, the observatory opens its doors to the public throughout the year and can be explored via a free guided tour. Do make sure to call ahead as these tours have limited capacity and fill up surprisingly quickly!
For any history buffs renting an RV nearby, the Big Bear Valley Historical Museum is a must-visit. Open seasonally; this museum celebrates the area’s rich and varied history. Learn about the first people to inhabit the area, the gold miners who unearthed their riches here and the winter sporting professionals who founded their passion for skiing here. Whilst adults peruse fascinating exhibitions; kids can pan for gold or enjoy interactive blacksmith demonstrations.
Big Bear Lake, CA is the perfect spot to start your next road trip.
There are many popular rentals in Big Bear Lake. Outdoorsy's Big Bear Lake RV rental marketplace allows renters to choose from rental options from professional RV rental agencies as well as RVs for rent by owner.