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About Big Bear

By Victoria Harding

Big Bear lake

Just up in the San Bernardino Mountains where the extinct grizzly bears use to live, is a beautiful mountain town called Big Bear. Visitors here can enjoy clear air, bright sunshine, and the pleasures of Big Bear Lake.

Take Interstate 10 east to Redlands and then take state highway 30 north. Turn onto State Highway 330 to Running Springs then take State Highway 18 east as it switchbacks up into the San Bernardino National Forest.

Wake up early and breath in the fresh air, then enjoy a breakfast at the Grizzly Manor Cafe. Then head for the Big Bear Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center 909-866-4607 and pick up brochures on the area's attractions. Public tours of the Big Bear Solar Observatory are offered on Saturdays from 4 to 6pm from June to August. For more information call 909-866-5791.

For all the hikers out there, Big Bear offers 500 miles of trails. You can pick up a free hiking map at the Big Bear Ranger Station (909-866-3437). All ski trials become mountain bike routes in the summer. You can hitch up your bike to the chair lifts and ride down.

For the shoppers out there, visit the shops of Big Bear Lake. For homemade jams and jellies visit the Village Coronet Mall 909-584-2860. Don't miss the Moonridge Animal Park 909-866-0183 where you can see the only grizzlies still in Big Bear. An amazing sight for the entire family!

Nestled within the San Bernadino National Forest and at close to 7,000 feet, Big Bear Lake is the only place in Southern California that can offer you four distinct seasons and more than 300 days of sunshine each year. Whatever defines your perfect getaway - extreme sports in the great outdoors or the quiet solitude of nature, down-home or chic, cozy or 4-star - it's all waiting for you at Big Bear Lake. Take advantage of exceptional accommodations, great restaurants, terrific shopping, and special fun events throughout the year. Big Bear Lake. It really is a breath of fresh air.

Big Bear Valley was first occupied by the Serrano Indians approximately 3,000 years ago. In 1845, while in pursuit of Indians, Benjamin D. Wilson discovered and named 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 getaway. Hollywood also has a history in Big Bear.

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."

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