If you thought a trip to Big Bear Lake in Southern California simply meant bundling up in layers of heavy clothing to hit the ski slopes, think again. Big Bear Lake is a wonderful place to visit during the winter season for people of all ages, offering a bevy of things to see and do.

Big Bear Lake is surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest where thousands of people or more visit year in and year out. What do they do when they arrive? More than they might have imagined.

The four-season alpine resort community located in San Bernardino County, 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles not only offers skiing, snowboarding and making Snow Angels, but lots more. How about inner-tubing down a snowy  mountain, back-country off-roading, or sledding, or even horseback riding? It’s all possible for those seeking adventure.

Beautiful Scenery

The scenery alone here will keep visitors entertained since Big Bear’s alpine environment is dominated by pine and oak forests. The area provides a natural habitat for more than 30 winter Bald Eagles and 29 species of rare plants — 10 of which are indigenous, so take that all you flora and fauna lovers.

A fresh water lake is seven miles long and about one mile across at its widest point. It has a maximum depth of 72 feet with more than 22 miles of shoreline. The area’s altitude ranges from 6,750 to 9,000 feet and winter brings about 100 inches of snowfall and temperatures in the low 40s during the day and mid 20s at night. In other words, it’s a good place to cuddle up with someone at a local B & B with a cup of hot chocolate or two.

Bears, and More, Oh My!

So, what’s all this got to do with bears? Big Bear Valley was first occupied by the Serrano Indians some 3,000 years ago. In 1845, while in pursuit of Indians, Benjamin D. Wilson discovered and named it Bear Valley because “the place was alive with bears!” In 1860, William Holcomb was hunting bear and discovered gold instead! What followed was Southern California’s largest gold rush.

Big Bear’s first dam, completed in 1884, was soon followed by the Valley’s first hotel in 1888. In 1949, the first ski resort opened and Big Bear Lake soon became Southern California’s favorite mountain get-away.

Hollywood also has a history in Big Bear and “Hooray for Hollywood,” right? Since the filming of “The Call of the North” in 1914, so many motion pictures have been shot in Big Bear Valley that it has been called “Hollywood’s back lot.”  Think: “Paint Your Wagon,” “The Parent Trap,” “Bonanza,” “Kissin’ Cousins,” “Yukon Gold” and “Dr. Doolittle”  — just a few of the more memorable films shot on location here.

Full of outdoor recreational opportunities, Big Bear Lake is also home to one of the nation’s only alpine solar observatories. In addition, there’s a public zoo, public campgrounds, and enticing restaurants offering fare from steaks and seafood to pizzas.

Easy to Get To

Big Bear Lake is easy to get to as its airport is open 24 hours daily and it is equipped for night landings, too. The drive, as long as visitors strap on tire chains, is a scenic one that they will surely enjoy.

The next time you want to experience a place other than the ordinary, be sure to think Big Bear Lake where more than snow awaits!