A snowy winter road in Big Bear Lake

Traveler's Winter Guide to Big Bear Lake!

Posted: 01/24/20

Got questions about Big Bear travel and planning? We've got answers!

We thank you for choosing Big Bear Lake to be your mountain getaway destination! You may have seen our FAQs page but we’d like to give you a few answers to ‘Infrequently Asked Questions’ that may serve you well on your trip.


When is traffic heaviest into/out of Big Bear?

  • The heaviest traffic uphill is typically seen Friday afternoons and evenings as well as Saturdays. Downhill traffic is typically heaviest on Sundays. Travel midweek to avoid traffic congestion.
  • Traffic is also heaviest during the winter season and holiday times. Plan a trip for spring or fall and enjoy the shoulder seasons of Big Bear.
  • Consider taking Highway 38 from Redlands or Highway 18 from Lucerne Valley to avoid heavier traffic on Highway 330.

Do I need chains? How do I put chains on? And how can I keep up with road conditions or chain restrictions?

  • Though you may not need to install chains, you must carry them in your vehicle from November 1 until April 30 and whenever snowy weather is present.
  • For info and updates on chain restrictions and road conditions please follow Caltrans Quickmaps or download the app.
  • Please refer to our Winter Driving Guide for tips and info on traction devices.

Once You’ve Arrived

We’re here! Where can I get some good locals’ advice on activities and general info?

  • Our Visitor Center at the corner of Big Bear Blvd and Pine Knot Ave is fully staffed with knowledgeable experts on activities and events.

Where should I dispose of my trash?

  • Many rental homes require you to take your trash with you when you check out. Trash and recyclables can be disposed of at these two Clean Bear Sites in town:
  1. Clean Bear Site #141790 Garstin Drive, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
  2. Clean Bear Site #239690 Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear Lake, CA 92315

Is there public transportation?

  1. Park your car at your lodging accommodations and hop on the Free Big Bear Trolley to travel in town.
  2. Flying In? Use the Airport Service when you contact Big Bear Airport between 7 AM and 6 PM by radio or phone 909-585-3219 and let them know when you're arriving and where you're going.
  3. Normal Bus Routes
  4. Dial-A-Ride

Are there free/paid public overnight parking lots?

  • There are no public or paid overnight lots in Big Bear. Private home rentals and traditional lodging facilities have limited parking so please consider carpooling when traveling to Big Bear. Street parking is not permitted.

Are there public electric car charging stations?

  • Yes. Pennsylvania Parking Lot in The Village features 4 spots with standard - not high speed - charging stations.


Can we walk on the lake ice?

  • Walking/playing on lake ice is forbidden by county code and punishable by fine and/or jail time.
  • The consequences can be far more grave however, as falling through into the frigid water can cost you your life.

Can we go sledding outside of the tubing hills?

  • Sledding is permitted on forest land however you must never engage in snow play near a highway or anywhere you might slide into traffic.
  • Private property is off limits to snow play at all times and hefty fines are issued for violations.
  • We highly recommend sledding within your cabin’s property lines or enjoying one of our three snow play areas in the Valley.

I saw a [name of animal here], what do I do?

  • Wild animals like bears, coyotes, deer, and many other species call the San Bernardino National Forest home, so it’s possible you may see them during your visit.
  • Typically these animals will avoid humans but if you do come across any wild animal, be sure to leave the area and do not attempt to approach, pet, or feed them.
  • Human contact is harmful to our wild animal residents, and a scared or threatened animal may feel the need to attack.
  • Never allow small children or pets to wander off unattended and always keep car doors and cabin doors locked to avoid any unwanted guests.

Please see these guidelines for bear encounters and these guidelines for living with wildlife.


I purchased lift tickets online and have to pick them up. Must I go to the ski resort?

  • No! You can pick up lift tickets at the Big Bear Mountain Resort desk in our Visitor Center!

What’s an Adventure Pass and do I need one?

  • Adventure Passes are needed whenever you park on National Forest land. This includes most trail head parking lots and picnic areas.
  • Adventure Passes can be purchased in our Visitor Center.

Big Bear On A Budget

How can I save money on lodging?

  • Mid-week bookings typically have a lower rate per night than weekends. Consider taking those unused vacay days (did you know almost 768 million vacation days in America go unused?) and save some money by traveling weekdays.
  • Off-peak seasons (spring and fall) also see lower lodging rates than snow season and the middle of summer.

Click here to plan your trip to Big Bear Lake.