Before you head to Big Bear Lake, study maps of the area and make a plan from Point A to Point B. When selecting a route, consider traffic conditions, weather conditions, chain requirements, and road work notices. Do not not rely on GPS to guide you without studying the route beforehand. Some roads in mountain regions are unpaved and unsuitable for 2-wheel drive or low riding vehicles. Your GPS may not make you aware of this.
Check traffic and road conditions prior to departing and have a passenger monitor changes on the CalTrans Quickmaps guide.
3 Main Routes
The three main roads to Big Bear Lake are Hwy 330 (through Highland), Hwy 38 (through Redlands) and Hwy 18 (through Lucerne Valley). If you're driving to Big Bear Lake from your home in California or from an airport, study these routes and see what freeways they connect to. See tabs at the top of this page for directions from California cities and out-of-state locations.
If you're flying commercial into California, the most common airports are LAX (Los Angeles), Ontario International (Inland Empire), and John Wayne Airport in Newport Beach (Orange County). Follow tabs at the top of this page for directions from these areas. You may also land in Big Bear as a private pilot at Big Bear Airport. It is highly recommended that private pilots plan for high altitude flying and landing conditions.
Mountain Transit's Public Transportation
Mountain Transit provides fixed route service through the Big Bear Valley and to/from off-mountain cities like San Bernardino, Crestline, and Lake Arrowhead. For bus route info, fares, and other info visit their website.
Once you're in town, Mountain Transit offers multiple services to get you around. The NEW Free Big Bear Trolley offers service throughout the Valley free of charge. Dial-A-Ride service, Park & Ride ski resort transport service, Airport Shuttle service, and fixed route buses all allow you to leave your vehicle parked and be driven to your Big Bear destinations. All Mountain Transit buses are wheelchair accessible and are equipped with bike racks. For more information on these services visit the Mountain Transit website.
Driving During Stormy Weather and Peak Periods
When arriving or leaving Big Bear during a snow storm or peak visitation periods, consider these:
- Hwy. 330 tends to be the most traveled route and tends to see the heaviest traffic on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
- Holidays like Christmas are also very busy and see extreme traffic delays.
- Traffic to/from Snow Valley adds congestion to Hwy. 330 during opening and closing times.
- Hwy. 18 to/from Lucerne Valley tends to be the best route in snowy weather. Traffic can be heaviest on weekends, holidays, and after a snowstorm.
- Hwy. 38 can be an alternative for heavy traffic periods.
- REGARDLESS OF THE ROUTE YOU CHOOSE, YOU SHOULD ALWAYS BE PREPARED FOR SNOWY CONDITIONS IN THE WINTER AND ANY TRAFFIC HAZARDS THAT MAY APPEAR.