The verdant San Bernardino Mountains and valleys around Big Bear Lake, and its neighbour Cedar Lake, frequently stood in for those of the Ozarks, Appalachians, and Canadian Rockies in early filmdom. Examples include 1936’s The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, 1941’s The Shepherd of the Hills, and Elvis Presley’s 1964 Kissin’ Cousins—all classic stories of mountain feuds and moonshine.
The sawmill featured in the Presley film is still standing, and you can see it at the Cedar Lake Camp, which was part of the area’s “back lot” (some of it originally built for movies) and is now rented out to groups. To reach further back into the area’s history, a cluster of vintage cabins and barns marks the Big Bear Historical Museum, which outlines the growth of the area from its early Gold Rush days.
With its inviting destinations and uncrowded wilderness, this region feels like an insider’s secret amid the bustling excitement of Southern California.
Mount San Gorgonio—nicknamed “Old Grayback”—is the tallest peak in Southern California, at 11,502 feet/3,506 meters.
Surprising alpine scenery around Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear beckons, with pine-scented trails in summer and winter sports when the snow flies. If you’re into action, get the adrenaline rush of seeing the world’s best NASCAR racers compete at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. For a dreamier escape, float in a hot-air balloon above rolling Temecula Valley wine country.
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