- Big Bear Airport District
- 501 Valley Blvd. - Big Bear City
- California 92314 - United States
- [email protected]
Big Bear City is a charming community located in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California. Its history is closely tied to the broader history of the Big Bear Valley and the surrounding region. Here is an overview of the history of Big Bear City:
Native American Presence: Long before European settlers arrived, the Big Bear Valley was inhabited by the Serrano Indians, who had a rich culture based on hunting, gathering, and trading with neighboring tribes. They referred to the area as "Yuhaviat" or "Pine Place."
Spanish Exploration: In the late 18th century, Spanish explorers and missionaries began to traverse the region. They established a trail through the San Bernardino Mountains, known as the Old Spanish Trail, which passed near Big Bear Valley.
Ranching and Homesteading: In the mid-1800s, American settlers began to arrive in the area. They were primarily cattle ranchers and homesteaders, drawn to the fertile meadows and abundant water sources in the valley. The Homestead Act of 1862 facilitated land acquisition, and many small farms and ranches were established.
Logging and Mining: As more people settled in the region, the demand for timber grew. The logging industry became a significant part of the local economy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Additionally, small-scale gold mining operations took place in the nearby mountains.
The Big Bear Lake Dam: One of the most significant developments in the area's history was the construction of the Big Bear Lake Dam in 1884. This dam, built by the Bear Valley Irrigation Company, created Big Bear Lake by impounding water from the Santa Ana River. The lake's recreational potential attracted tourists and helped shape the area's future.
Tourism and Resort Development: In the early 20th century, the Big Bear Valley began to transform into a popular tourist destination. People flocked to the area for its natural beauty, outdoor recreational activities, and cool mountain climate. Resorts, lodges, and cabins were built to accommodate visitors.
Big Bear City's Development: Big Bear City, originally known as "Bear Valley City," emerged as a community serving the growing tourist industry. The completion of State Route 18 in the 1920s greatly improved access to the area. Over time, Big Bear City became a hub for services, including shops, restaurants, and accommodations.
World War II and Skiing: During World War II, the U.S. military established a training facility in the Big Bear Valley. After the war, some of the surplus military equipment was used to create the first ski resorts in the area. This marked the beginning of Big Bear's reputation as a winter sports destination.
Modern Big Bear City: Today, Big Bear City continues to thrive as a year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts. It offers a wide range of activities, including skiing and snowboarding in the winter, hiking and boating in the summer, and scenic beauty throughout the year. The community has preserved its mountain town charm and remains an important part of the greater Big Bear Valley.
Big Bear City's history reflects the evolution of a once remote mountain area into a vibrant and popular destination in Southern California, celebrated for its natural beauty and recreational opportunities.
Top Tourist Attractions
Big Bear City, nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California, offers a variety of tourist attractions and activities to enjoy year-round. While Big Bear City itself is a small community, it is part of the greater Big Bear Valley, which includes Big Bear Lake, and together they provide a wealth of attractions. Here are some of the top tourist attractions in the Big Bear City area:
- Big Bear Lake: The centerpiece of the region, Big Bear Lake offers a plethora of recreational opportunities. Visitors can go boating, fishing, paddleboarding, and swimming in the summer, while in the winter, the frozen lake becomes a popular spot for ice skating and ice fishing.
- Snow Summit and Bear Mountain: These two adjacent ski resorts are popular destinations for winter sports enthusiasts. They offer skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing during the winter months and mountain biking and hiking trails during the summer.
- Big Bear Discovery Center: Located on the north shore of Big Bear Lake, this educational center provides information about the local environment, wildlife, and outdoor activities. It's a great starting point for exploring the region.
- Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain: This family-friendly attraction features an alpine slide, go-karts, and a water slide during the summer months. It's a fun place for both kids and adults to enjoy.
- Big Bear Village: The heart of Big Bear Lake, this charming village offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and galleries. It's a great place to stroll, dine, and pick up souvenirs.
- Stanfield Marsh Wildlife and Waterfowl Preserve: This wetland area is perfect for birdwatching and wildlife enthusiasts. You can spot various bird species and enjoy a peaceful walk along the boardwalk.
- Snow Play Areas: During the winter, visitors can enjoy snow play areas where they can sled, build snowmen, and have snowball fights. Some resorts and parks in the area offer designated snow play zones.
- Baldwin Lake Stables: Explore the surrounding forests on horseback with guided trail rides offered by Baldwin Lake Stables. It's a unique way to experience the natural beauty of the region.
- Pine Knot Village: Located in the heart of Big Bear Lake, this area features boutique shops, art galleries, and restaurants. It's a great place to explore and find unique gifts.
- Hiking and Biking Trails: The Big Bear Valley offers an extensive network of hiking and mountain biking trails, suitable for all skill levels. Popular trails include the Pacific Crest Trail, Castle Rock Trail, and the Cougar Crest Trail.
- Big Bear Solar Observatory: While not typically open to the public, this research facility conducts solar and space physics research and occasionally hosts public events and tours.
- Big Bear Historical Museum: Located in nearby Big Bear Lake, this museum offers a glimpse into the history of the region, including exhibits on Native American culture, early pioneers, and the growth of the area.
Whether you're visiting for outdoor adventures or simply to relax in the serene mountain environment, Big Bear City and the surrounding Big Bear Lake area have plenty to offer for tourists seeking a getaway in the San Bernardino Mountains.
Big Bear City experiences a climate that is characterized by distinct seasons and is influenced by its elevation. The climate in Big Bear City can be described as a mountainous, alpine climate with some Mediterranean characteristics. Here's an overview of the climate in Big Bear City:
- Four Seasons: Big Bear City enjoys four distinct seasons, making it a year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
- Winter: Winters in Big Bear City are cold and snowy. Snowfall typically occurs from November to April, with the peak snowfall months being December and January. The area is known for its excellent skiing and snowboarding conditions during this time.
- Spring: Spring is a transitional season, with warming temperatures and melting snow. It's a great time for hiking and enjoying the budding wildflowers in the surrounding forests.
- Summer: Summers in Big Bear City are generally mild and pleasant. Daytime temperatures typically range from the 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit (around 21-28°C). It's a popular season for outdoor activities like boating, hiking, mountain biking, and fishing.
- Fall: Fall brings cooler temperatures and beautiful foliage as the trees in the area change color. It's a great time for hiking and taking in the scenic views.
- Sunshine: Big Bear City enjoys a good amount of sunshine throughout the year, with more sunny days than coastal areas of Southern California.
- Rainfall: The area experiences relatively low annual precipitation, with the majority of the precipitation occurring during the winter months as snow. Summers are generally dry.
- Elevation: Big Bear City's elevation is around 6,750 feet (2,060 meters) above sea level. This elevation contributes to cooler temperatures and the likelihood of snow in the winter.
- Temperature Variations: Due to its elevation, Big Bear City can experience significant temperature variations between day and night, especially in the summer. Nighttime temperatures can drop considerably, even during the warmer months.
- Fire Season: Like many areas in Southern California, Big Bear City is susceptible to wildfire risk, especially during dry and windy conditions in the fall. Fire safety is a crucial consideration in this region.
It's important to note that weather conditions can vary from year to year, and visitors should check the weather forecast and road conditions when planning a trip to Big Bear City, particularly during the winter months when snowfall can impact travel. Overall, the climate in Big Bear City provides a beautiful backdrop for a wide range of outdoor activities, making it a popular destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year.
It is situated within the larger Big Bear Valley, which includes the adjacent city of Big Bear Lake. Here is an overview of the geography of Big Bear City:
- Elevation: Big Bear City is at a relatively high elevation of approximately 6,750 feet (2,060 meters) above sea level. This elevation contributes to its alpine climate and its attractiveness as a year-round destination for outdoor activities.
- Surrounding Mountains: Big Bear City is surrounded by the rugged and forested peaks of the San Bernardino Mountains. These mountains are part of the Transverse Ranges, which run east-west across Southern California. Some prominent peaks in the vicinity include San Gorgonio Mountain, the highest peak in Southern California, and Sugarloaf Mountain.
- Big Bear Lake: While Big Bear City itself is not directly on the shores of Big Bear Lake, the lake is just a short drive away. Big Bear Lake, at an elevation of approximately 6,743 feet (2,055 meters), is the centerpiece of the region and a popular destination for boating, fishing, and other water activities.
- San Bernardino National Forest: The entire Big Bear Valley, including Big Bear City, is surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest. This forested area offers a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities, including hiking, mountain biking, camping, and wildlife viewing.
- Lake Baldwin: To the east of Big Bear City, you can find Lake Baldwin, a small reservoir used for fishing and recreation. It's part of the Baldwin Lake area, which also includes the Baldwin Lake Ecological Reserve.
- Bear Valley: The name "Bear Valley" is often used interchangeably with "Big Bear Valley" to describe the general area that includes both Big Bear City and Big Bear Lake. It's a picturesque valley known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities.
- San Andreas Fault: The San Andreas Fault, a major geological fault line, runs relatively close to the Big Bear Valley. This fault line is responsible for the creation of the dramatic topography in the region and plays a significant role in the geology of Southern California.
Overall, the geography of Big Bear City is defined by its mountainous surroundings, pristine lakes, and its position within the San Bernardino Mountains. This natural setting makes it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering activities such as skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and mountain biking, depending on the season.