"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." - Anne Frank
Big Bear has about 12,000 full-time residents throughout the valley. On average, 3,000,000 guests visit our destination each year, many for winter snow and skiing. Your vacation puts food on our tables and a roof over our heads. There’s virtually no business in Big Bear Lake that isn’t impacted by tourism spending. For that, we graciously thank you for considering a trip to our slice of paradise!
While you're here, please help us Care For Big Bear by following our Best Practices and Principals and considering one of the many ways you can volunteer or donate to Preserve Our Natural Playground.
Trail Work Days w/ the Southern California Mountains Foundation
The Mountains Foundation works tirelessly to maintain our Valley's trails for hikers and bikers and horse riders. Join in trail maintenance days with this amazing organization and get your hands dirty for a good cause!
Basic trail maintenance work utilizes hand tools that will be provided and Trail Stewards will be present to help guide the work. Beginners are welcome includes kids however anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a guardian.
Work times and locations will vary so be sure to refer to the information listed on the event you choose. All trail work events are listed here >>> Southern California Mountains Foundation Events | Eventbrite
It is advised to wear boots, long pants, and clothes you don't mind getting dirty in. Bring water, sunscreen, and gloves. The Mountains Foundation will bring the tools, snacks, and extra water.
Best Practices & Principles
With steady visitation year-round, and heavy crowds on weekends and peak seasons, we ask that you be proactive in planning ahead for all possible road conditions, bring groceries to avoid overcrowding in stores, obey safety laws, and help us keep our Valley clean and pristine for generations to come.
On Your Way
Driving the mountain can be difficult for some drivers. Be aware of safe driving speeds and if traffic accumulates behind you, please use turn-outs to let traffic safely flow smoothly. Pulling off at these turnouts for snow play in winter is not recommended. Turnouts help the flow of traffic, but too many cars parked for long periods of time becomes dangerous!
While Visit Big Bear recommends snow tubing at Big Bear Snow Play and Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain - the U.S. Forest Service does allow snow play in the San Bernardino National Forest. Please play responsibly and away from traffic and closed areas like the Bald Eagle Habitat.
You must carry tire chains in your vehicle during the winter months. Additionally, you should carry a sturdy shovel and cat litter - or gravel - should you need to dig out of a berm or create additional traction on icy roads.
Pack Supplies & Groceries
Due to coronavirus restrictions, restaurants are not permitted at this time to serve patrons indoors. With winter weather on the way, outdoor seating may become impossible and threaten permanent closures. Support local restaurants and enjoy a range of cuisine when you order takeaway during your stay!
During Your Stay
Treat Our House Like Your House
One of Big Bear Lake’s charms is that most businesses, cabins and lodges are locally-owned. It’s one of the reasons why your stay means so much to the livelihood of Big Bear Lake residents. Kindly treat these spaces with the same respect you should show your own home and your neighbors’ homes. Do not leave trash on private property or allow it to blow away. We practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace, and we encourage you to do so too! Every year, thousands of broken sleds and countless pieces of trash are left behind - in the forest and along the roads - please do not be a part of this statistic.
Lake Ice - Please stay off lake ice! Big Bear Lake's ice is thin through the winter and not suitable for walking or playing. The risk to your life - and those of rescuers if you fall through - is not worth it. Hefty fines await those who violate this county order.
Snow Play - Sledding near and into streets is extremely dangerous as cars use roadways year-round. Do not use turnouts to park for snow play. Other travelers will need them to put chains on, to let other drivers pass, and to pull over for emergencies.
Swimming - In the summer months, swimmers must stay within 50 feet of shore. Swimming off of boats is not recommended particularly without a life vest. Every year tragic drownings occur in Big Bear Lake. Many of these victims know how to swim but are not prepared for the lake environment which includes very cold water temps, currents, and exhaustion from altitude. Stay alive, wear a life vest!
Enjoying Nature Responsibly
Think About Your Impact
When using trails, keep to existing routes and do not create new ones. Do not leave trash on trails and pick up any garbage you may find along the way. Do not take away rocks, plants, or other natural objects, and do not approach wildlife. When camping, you must stay in developed campgrounds that are open per National Forest allowance.
Think About Energy & Water Usage
Turn off lights when you leave a room and try to open windows or wear additional clothing instead of adjusting the thermostat. Conserve water by taking shorter showers and avoid high water use activities.
Think About Fire Danger
One careless match, one burning cigarette tossed out the window, or one neglected campfire can destroy the homes of both residents and our precious wildlife.
Visiting with Respect
Visit California's Responsible Travel Code
- Roam Responsibly - I will explore California thoughtfully and responsibly, maintaining the utmost respect for everyone and everything I encounter.
- Educate Myself - I will do my research before traveling across the state, familiarizing myself with local regulations and community concerns, which may have changed over time. This is especially important in rural communities with limited healthcare resources.
- Safety First - I will follow public health directives from government officials, including physical distancing measures. I will take all necessary steps to minimize health risks to myself and others and stay home if I’m sick.
- Preserve California - I will protect and nurture the Golden State’s pristine outdoor spaces and cultural icons, by maintaining a light footprint at every turn and paying special attention to delicate ecosystems.
- Embrace Community - I will support local businesses and do my part to ensure the long-term prosperity of the places I visit.
- Celebrate Culture - I will immerse myself in California’s diverse local cultures and embrace the traditions and practices I encounter.
- Teach Others - I will lead by example and share these practices with fellow travelers, acknowledging that we all share the responsibility to protect California.
Big Bear Lake offers so many opportunities to help sustain and preserve the beauty of our mountains. Become a part of the change for good and explore these opportunities to volunteer or donate!
Adopt - A - Shoreline
The Adopt-a-Shoreline program - hosted by the Big Bear Municipal Water District - lets volunteers adopt a section of the lake shoreline (or a trash can) and help keep that area clean throughout the seasons. Similar to the Adopt-a-Highway program, this is an excellent opportunity for kids, adults and community groups to participate in a great cause while enjoying some outdoor activity.
Big Bear Alpine Zoo
There are so many ways to support our local Big Bear Alpine Zoo!
Adopt An Animal! Sponsor one of the zoo's residents for a year! The “adopter” will be mailed a Certificate of Adoption, and additional swag items depending on adoption level.
Donate! Your donation will support costs of building the new zoo, feeding the animals, construction of exhibits, general operations, medical care for the animals, educational programs, and special events. Your donation is 100% tax-deductible!
Become A Member! Enjoy free zoo admission for one year, a subscription to the e-version of Paw Prints Newsletter, and gift shop discounts depending on membership level.
Big Bear Trails
The Adopt-A-Trail Program with Big Bear Trails gives individuals and groups an opportunity to adopt a section of a San Bernardino National Forest trail on an annual basis. Each sponsor supports their Adopted Trail through financial contributions and volunteer trail work.
Looking to be a more active volunteer? Sign up with Big Bear Trails' Trail Host program! You'll provide information and support to visitors and be the eyes and ears of the trails, reporting on trail conditions and inappropriate activities.
Discover more about Big Bear Trails programs on their website!
Urban Conservation Corps
The Urban Conservation Corps of the Inland Empire (UCCIE) is the largest community-based conservation corps in the Inland Empire.
Each year the UCCIE provides over 100K hours of public service, conservation work, and disaster assistance in the Inland Empire.
Corps members are from diverse backgrounds, ages 18-25, organized into crews, often led by a full-time supervisor, and equipped with uniforms, tools, and safety gear.
Learn how to get involved with one of the many volunteer programs with the Southern California Mountains Foundation.
Community Leaders In Sustainability
Big Bear Valley Ecotourism Coalition
Visit Big Bear is a proud participant with the Big Bear Valley Ecotourism Coalition. BBVEC encourages ecotourism in the Big Bear Valley to support the local economy while honoring, conserving, and appreciating the beautiful and unique natural environment. The Coalition assembles information on local habitats, ecotourism activities, tours, events, recreation, and sustainably-run green business partners. BBVEC is a project of the Friends of Big Bear Valley nonprofit (501(c)(3) organization that strives to protect, sustain, and preserve Big Bear's amazing natural surroundings through environmental education and advocacy about its value and community benefit.
Southern California Mountains Foundation
SCMF supports an array of programs focusing on San Bernardino National Forest maintenance and sustainability. The Big Bear Trails Program, Adopt-A-Trail Program, the Discovery Center, Urban Conservation Corp, Fire Lookout program, Off-Highway Vehicle program and more all pitch in valuable work hours to preserving our landscape. Learn More >>>
Big Bear Alpine Zoo
The Big Bear Alpine Zoo is not only a home for alpine wildlife but a renowned facility for their care and rehabilitation. Approximately 90% of the animals brought to the Zoo for rehabilitation are released back into their native environment.
Big Bear Alpine Zoo is dedicated to educating its visitors on the impact we humans have on our environment. The wildlife residents of the Zoo are either too injured or have been imprinted by humans and cannot be released to care for themselves.