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  • Writer's pictureKathy Condon

Outdoor Enthusiasts will Appreciate Big Bear California

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

Eighty-two miles from Palm Springs is a world where one sees evergreen trees instead of Palm Trees. Outdoor activities abound, and distant mountains reveal paths of winter ski runs.

Before you head out, as always on any journey from Palm Springs, be sure you have a supply of water. Also, since Big Bear Lake is at an elevation of 6,752 feet, you will want to be sure you take a sweater and a jacket, for evenings can turn cold even in the spring and fall. Casual clothes are accepted everywhere, so no need to pack the evening dress or tux.

When you decide to make the journey to this destination, you have three routes you can take. This particular journey brings you a full circle with entirely different environments.

The Journey Begins

Take Indian Canyon North until it dead ends at the foot of the distant mountain. Then turn right on Highway 62 toward Yucca Valley. Travel through the hills of Morongo Valley. If you have never seen Joshua trees, you will have the opportunity to see them on both sides of the road, for they grow between 2,000 to 6,000 feet. Keep going on Highway 62 to Old Women Springs Road (Highway 247), which is really in the middle of the town of Yucca. Turn left and go up through Flamingo Heights.

You will go near the town of Landers. On your next visit, you might want to make a reservation to go to the Integratron for one of its famous sound baths. Also, on the same road is Gubler Orchids. Their tours of the greenhouses are educational and beautiful.

About 20 miles from Flamingo Heights, you will descend into Johnson Valley. This area is now famous for the many off-roaders because of its dry lake beds, rolling hills, and sandy washes.

Then you will see a sign to Big Bear or Highway 18. Be ready for lots of curves and slow traffic.

Big Bear is a Sprawling Community

When you look up, you’ll see the mountains with distinct ski runs in the distance. Quickly, you get the sense this area is equipped to handle skiers that descend on the area from Los Angeles, San Diego, and international countries in the winter. Ski rentals abound, and casual restaurants provide space for groups of people celebrating at the end of a ski day.

In the summer months, there are boat rentals, hiking trails, beaches, and biking. During “normal” times, there are numerous summer festivals, such as Antique Wooden Boat Show, Comedy Festival and Oktoberfest. You will want to check the Big Bear Chamber of Commerce for specific dates.

Places to Stay

Bear Cave Apartments is a delightful find. It is newly remodeled with full kitchens. It would be the right place for a family for it has a spacious courtyard with barbecue facilities. There is plenty of room for children to run off their energy.

Prefer a cabin on the lake? Surely it is possible to find one to fit the size you need and amenities that will make your Big Bear visit a comfortable and memorable one.

Heading Back to Palm Springs

Head east on Big Bear Boulevard. Turn right on Highway 38. Soon you will be winding your way down the mountain. Take time to turn off and see some of the vistas.

The great thing about this highway is there are lots of turnouts so you can let traffic go by so you can come down at your own pace and enjoy the scenery. It comes all the way down to Highway 10. So all you have to do is turn East on Highway 10, and you will soon be back in Palm Springs.

If you love the outdoors, you will not be disappointed you booked some time in this casual community, which is sure to meet the most discriminating expectations for a relaxing adventure among the pines.

Kathy Condon is a freelance travel writer and blogger. She is the Founder of the Palm Springs Insider Guide Her book It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask: It’s All About Communication was named Best Book Finalist By USA Book News

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