Big Bear Camping

by Kshaunish Jaini

Some of the biggest cities of the United States of America are located on the West Coast, from Los Angeles to San Francisco. While the cities offer a charm and history in their own right, it becomes necessary sometimes to take a break and go out into the wilderness for a while. America is blessed with some of the most exotic natural surroundings in the world, owing to its large size and environmental diversity. As a result, a host of camping spots open up once you start looking for a getaway spot outdoors. It is here that the Great American Getaway comes in - surrounded by thick pine trees and nestled around one of the Great Lakes of America - the Big Bear Lake.

Located in the Greater Los Angeles area, the Big Bear Lake is one of the most iconic camping spots in America. Its situated among the San Bernardino mountains, surrounded by the dense forests of the San Bernardino National Park. The Big Bear Lake is approximately 11 kilometers long and 4 kilometers wide at its widest point. It is located at an altitude of more than 2000 meters above the sea level - a result of which is the thick snowfall that it receives every winter. Its astounding natural setting and accessibility make it an extremely popular camping spot. Here is everything you need to know before you go out for your own adventure camping at the Big Bear Lake.

Weather at the Big Bear Lake

The area around the Big Bear Lake is mostly cool due to its high altitude. The hottest month of the year is July, where the average temperature goes up to 18 degree Celsius. More than half the year - from September end to June - the area witnesses snowfall due to below 0 temperatures. In fact, July and August are the only months in the year without snow. This is anomaly in the generally hot and humid California region, and makes it a sight worth seeing. The Big Bear Lake area also witnesses a 1.5 months of rainfall on an average. Spring is generally considered the best time to visit Big Bear Lake, as everything starts to open up and the region is full of vivid colors. On the other hand, the charming hues of autumn at the Big Bear Lake are a sight to see on their own right.

near big bear lake.

This is shot from the east shore, just north of the dam on Big Bear Lake. Photo by Don

How to Get to Big Bear Lake?

The Big Bear Lake is located in the San Bernardino County. Geographically, the lake is divided into the north shore and south shore. The north shore begins at the Dam Junction of Highway 18. The Big Bear Lake Observatory and the town of Fawnskin are close to the north shore, while the south shore leads out of the Bear Valley, where the Big Bear City is located. Camping spots are available both at the north and south shores. The best approach point is via Highway 330 out of San Bernardino through Running Springs where it intersects Highway 18.

Amenities at Big Bear Lake

Most campgrounds around the Big Bear Lake are equipped with tables, campfire rings, grills and trashcans. Most of them also have some kind of restroom, while a few even have access to flush toilets and showers. The campgrounds maintained by the US Forest Services would usually have a host on site to assist the campers and provide them with information and camp items for sale.

Best Campsites

Serrano Campground:

Located on the north shore only a few steps away from the Big Bear Lake, the Serrano campground has more than 100 campsites for both RV and tent camping. The campground is central to most recreational destinations around the area and is therefore a popular spot. The Big Bear Discovery Centre located nearby provides all the necessary paperwork and information needed for exploring the area. The Alpine Pedal Path - a rejuvenating short hiking trail through the mountains also starts from Serrano.

On a camping adventure near big bear lake.

On a camping adventure near big bear lake. Photo by Paul

Pine Knot Campground:

Close to the town of Big Bear Lake, the Pine Knot campground is located just east of the base of the Snow Summit. There are 52 campsites on the area, with flush toilets and drinking water available. The campground is also close to the Snow Summit which houses the Scenic Sky Chair.

Holcomb Valley Campground: Holcomb Valley campground is located just north of the town of Fawnskin. These campgrounds are further into the forest and therefore less accessible. But they provide a much more immersive experience into the camping experience, completely cut off from the urban landscape.

Things to do at the Big Bear Lake

Some of the adventures that you can get into at the Big Bear Lake are:

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