What’s the best way to get to Big Bear?
Big Bear Lake is located in the San Bernardino Mountains and is an easy drive from most areas in southern California. It is about 93 miles northeast of Los Angeles, an approximate 2 hour, and 10 minute drive depending on traffic and road conditions. From Beverly Hills it is approximately a 2 hour, 20 minute drive and from the City of San Bernardino (29 miles) - depending on traffic it is a 40 to 45 minute drive up the mountain.
There are three roads that lead in and out of the Big Bear Valley.
Front way: If you are driving on the I-10 or the CA-210 Freeways you can choose between the CA-330 which becomes the CA-18 through Running Springs and Deer Lick or proceed towards Redlands and take the CA-38 through Mentone.
CA-38 usually has less traffic, but the CA-330 is quicker. On busy weekends and during snow storms CA-38 may be a better choice.
There is some confusion about the CA-18 which starts at Running Springs and continues into Big Bear Lake. When you arrive at the bridge over the Big Bear Lake Dam, the CA-18 continues straight ahead and this section of the road is called CA-18/Big Bear Blvd. This dual name continues through the Town of Big Bear Lake past the Stanfield Cut-Off towards Big Bear City, and when you reach Greenway the CA-18 turns left on Greenway and then turns right where it becomes just the CA-18 again. It then continues down the back side of the mountain to Lucerne.
Some people prefer to take the back road because the drive out of the mountain is shorter. To go this way, take the CA-18 to Lucerne and then go west towards Hesperia until you reach Bear Valley Road. Take the Bear Valley Road until you reach the 1-15 South.
All the roads leading to Big Bear offer some pretty spectacular vistas, especially CA-330/CA-18 - there are numerous turn-outs where you can stop to enjoy the different views, on a clear day you can see all the way to the ocean. Other views are picture perfect with layers of mountains that look amazingly like a background in a Da Vinci painting.
On the way to Big Bear you will pass through the town of Running Springs, and then Deer Lick. Shortly after that you will pass by the Snow Valley Ski and Snowboard Resort. Approximately 11 miles later you will arrive at the traffic light at Big Bear Lake Dam, continue straight ahead over the new bridge for Big Bear Lake or turn left onto North Shore Drive if you are staying in Fawnskin.
When travelling to the mountains in the winter months, you are required to carry chains even if it isn't snowing at the time (if Highway Patrol stops you and you don’t have chains you will be asked to turn around and purchase them before you return). If it is snowing there will be police road blocks set up on the highway and they will make you pull over and put your chains on. If you have 4-wheel drive and mud & snow rated tires they will look in your car to make sure you have chains but probably won't require you put them on. Don’t forget to keep a flashlight, water, snacks and extra blankets in the car - just in case there is a traffic delay due to a storm.
Driving to Big Bear Lake from Los Angeles International Airport
Drive: 114 miles, 2 h 12 min depending on traffic.
Get onto the I-105 East from S Sepulveda Blvd.
Continue on I-105 East – and then take the I-605 North to the CA-210 East.
Take the CA-210 East to the CA-330 North (Mountain Resorts / Big Bear Lake).
Follow the CA-330 North and when you arrive at Running Springs the CA-330 changes to the CA-18.
Take the CA-18 towards Big Bear Lake and when you arrive at the bridge at Big Bear Dam the CA-18 also becomes Big Bear Blvd - .cross over the bridge and continue on CA-18/Big Bear Blvd. into the City of Big Bear Lake. You will pass by Boulder Bay Park on your left and the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain on your right before you arrive at the Village.
If you want to go directly to the ski resorts, after passing along Village Drive and turning left on Pine Knot in the Village you can turn right on Big Bear Blvd. and drive about 1.78 miles to Snow Summit Resort (on your left via Summit Blvd.) or 3.5 miles to Bear Mountain Resort via Moonridge Rd or Club View Dr.