Big Bear Lake, CA
Big Bear Lake is a city in San Bernardino County, California along the south shore of Big Bear Lake, located 25 miles (40 km) northeast of the city of San Bernardino. The population was 5,019 at the 2010 census, down from 5,438 at the 2000 census. However, being a four-seasons resort, the actual number of people staying in total accommodations, residences, and campgrounds in the greater Big Bear Valley surges to over 100,000 many weekends per year. Surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest, Big Bear Lake is a year-around resort destination for Southern California.
Big Bear Lake was inhabited by the indigenous Serrano Indians for over 2,000 years before it was explored by Benjamin Wilson and his party. Once populated by only the natives and the Grizzly bears, from which the area received its name, Big Bear Valley grew rapidly during the Southern California Gold Rush from 1861 to 1912. Grizzly bears were not found in the region after 1908. However there are black bears in the region, introduced in 1933, and they are sometimes sighted in residential areas.
A trip to Big Bear Lake from San Bernardino took two days on horse-drawn coaches. Kirk Phillips was a local who took a trip to New York City and saw the world's first bus line. This inspired him to create the world's second bus line from San Bernardino to Big Bear Valley using White trucks with several rows of seats. This made it possible for the villages to grow and for Big Bear Lake to become the first mountain recreation area in Southern California.