Big Bear


Big Bear has it all; hiking, camping, mountain biking, snow skiing, boondocking, sailing, horseback riding, good restaurants, bars, and much more. This makes it one of the best places in Southern California for any van or RV nomad looking for adventure and to get away from the city.


Big Bear is one of the most popular getaways in southern California. In the wintertime, people flock there for skiing at Snow Summit or Mountain High, and in the Summer, people flock there for cooler temperatures and explore the outdoors.

Ski Beach Park is a good place to hang out during the day while in Big Bear. The park has restrooms, trash cans, a baseball field, a basketball court, a playground, and picnic tables. 

Any nomad looking for adventures in Southern California in one place will find Big Bear a perfect destination. 

Downtown Big Bear

Downtown Big Bear is a great place with restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, and outfitters. you can sit outdoors in front of a fire pit and watch the day go by.

Snow Skiing

Snow skiing in the wintertime is one of the most popular activities in Big Bear. People from all over southern California flock to Big Bear to go skiing at Snow Summit and Bear Mountain.

For any van or RV nomad looking to ski in Southern California, Big Bear is the place for you. Although there are minimal camping options during the wintertime, it’s only an hour’s drive to the mountain base, where there are many more.

Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking in the summertime is one of the most popular activities in Big Bear. People from all over southern California flock to big bear to go downhill mountain biking at Snow Summit and Bear Mountain.

Big Bear also has miles of mountain biking in the backcountry. You can spend the day traversing the ridgelines or the small trails closer to town. Big Bear must be on your destination list if you are into mountain biking. 


My favorite activity to do in Big Bear is go hiking. Big Bear offers endless hiking options that range from easy hikes by the lake to hard hikes traversing the mountains. 

I promise there will be a hike there for you. Here is a list of the few that I enjoy:

  • Castle Rock Trail (Moderate)(2.6 miles)
  • Cougar Crest Trail (Moderate)(5.3 miles)
  • Sugarloaf Mountain Trail (Hard)(11.6 miles)

Water Sports

Did I mention that Big Bear has a big lake. Big Bear Lake offers a range of activities from kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, and boating. However, the only boats allowed on the lake are electric power; this means no water skiing. 


There are a lot of fishing opportunities at Big Bear Lake and the surrounding lakes. All of the lakes in the area are stocked with trout and other types of fish.

There are mountain lakes within a 45 minutes drive of Bog Bear are:

  • Lake Arrowhead
  • Lake Gregory
  • Silverwood Lake

Remember, you have to have a fishing license. The fine for not having one is high.

Website: California Fishing License Online


There are multiple camping options in Big Bear during Spring, Summer, and Fall. The campgrounds range from basic dry camping to full RV hooks ups. Below is the main campground I have stayed at, but there are a lot more:
  • Pine Knott
  • Big Bear Shores RV Resort
  • Holcomb Valley Campground

Holcomb Vally Campground

Holcomb Valley Campground has 19 single-family campsites. All sites are first-come-first-serve basis (no reservations). Although this campground is open year-round, vehicle access will be based on road conditions. Amenities include a picnic table, 1 fire ring, bear boxes, and vault toilets. There is no water available. A campground host is on-site from mid-May through October.

Polique Canyon Road (2N09) intersects Holcomb Valley Road (3N16), taking you to Holcomb Valley Campground. Vam Dusen Canyon Road (3N09) goes to the campground as well and is an easier road. 


There are a few boondocking locations in the Big Bear area. All of them are located on Forest Service land and require driving down a dirt road.  I always recommend trying to find a good boondocking campsite before an established one, and Big Bear is no exception. 

Brochure: Holcomb Valley Gold Fever Trail

It’s a privilege to have Big Bear for our enjoyment, so please practice Leave No Trace principles.

References and Links


Lake Arrowhead

Lake Arrowhead is located in the San Bernadino Mountains and is a perfect place for any van or RV nomad who wants to escape the city. There are a variety of activities to do from mountain biking, water skiing, camping, hiking, boating, and exploring. The town also has a few nice RV resorts, restaurants, and Lake Arrowhead Village.

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