Big Bear Lake is a hub for thousands of boaters, anglers, water skiers, and swimmers to enjoy every year. But with any activity, it's important to observe the risks and make smart decisions for your safety and the safety of others. Learn about Big Bear Lake's life vest laws, swimming rules, seasonal algae, pet safety, and more.

Be Aware of Risks. Be Prepared for Risks.

Life Vest Laws

California Life Vest Law states: Under California law, every child under 13 years of age on a moving recreational vessel of any length must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket in serviceable condition and of a type and size appropriate for the conditions and the activity. Expect to abide by these laws when renting any form of watercraft from a Big Bear marina or when children are present on a private vessel. Lake Patrol is diligent in enforcing rules and regulations on Big Bear Lake.

Big Bear Lake Rules & Regulations state:
During recreational towing activities, waterskiers/wakeboarders/wake surfers/jet skiers/tube riders/etc. shall wear a personal floatation device.

Swimming Rules

From the Big Bear Municipal Water District: In the summer months, swimming is permitted in Big Bear Lake at your own risk! There are NO lifeguards on duty and swimmers must stay within 50 feet of the shore or within 20 feet of a private dock. Swimming within the means of participating in water sports is also permitted with a life vest!

Seasonal Algae

Algae is a normal part of our lake ecosystem. While most algae is non-toxic, others may pose a risk. Read more on seasonal algae in Big Bear Lake.

Cold Water Risk

Each year, Big Bear Lake sees tragic drownings. Water temps in Big Bear Lake are colder than you may realize. According to NOAA, survival time is greatly reduced for someone immersed in water below 70°F, which describes Big Bear Lake for most of the year. Cold water reduces body heat up to 25 times faster than cold air, and cold water shock can cause immediate loss of breathing control. Roughly 20% of victims die in the first minute of cold water shock. Wearing a life jacket significantly increases the chances of being located and saved.

Don't Risk Your Life! Wear A Life Jacket!

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Public Launch Ramps

The Public Launch Ramps are open for all vessels, motorized and non-motorized. Both ramps are located on the North Shore. The East Ramp is close to Stanfield cutoff, near the Discovery Center and the West Ramp is closer to the Big Bear Dam, west of Fawnskin. Launching your vessel is free, but your vessel will need to pass inspection for the Quagga mussel. You will also need to have a Lake Use Permit. Permits can be purchased daily, multiple days or annually. For launching information in day use and permits visit Big Bear Municipal Water District.

Please see map for Launch Ramp and Marina locations. Ramps are indicated with a blue icon. Marinas are indicated with an orange, anchor icon.

Big Bear Municipal Water District

Big Bear Lake is managed by the Big Bear Municipal Water District. The organization is responsible for maintaining the water body for safe recreation and a healthy ecosystem for our wildlife.

BBMWD operates and maintains the two public boat launch ramps and provides highly trained staff for the Lake Patrol program. BBMWD also administers the boating permit program and oversees fish stocking, management of wildlife habitat, monitoring water quality, hosting the annual Carp Round-Up, and much more.