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Big Bear Lake is a city in San Bernardino Countymarker, Californiamarker along the south shore of Big Bear Lakemarker, just 25 miles north east of the city of San Bernardinomarker. The population was 5,438 at the 2000 census. Surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forestmarker, Big Bear Lake, is a year-around resort destination for Southern California.


Big Bear Lake is located at (34.241295, -116.903289) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.0 km² (6.6 mi²). 16.4 km² (6.3 mi²) of it is land and 0.6 km² (0.2 mi²) of it (3.51%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 5,438 people, 2,343 households, and 1,494 families residing in the city. The population density was 332.2/km² (860.1/mi²). There were 8,705 housing units at an average density of 531.8/km² (1,376.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 91.17% White, 0.68% African American, 0.97% Native American, 0.75% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 3.57% from other races, and 2.81% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.70% of the population.

There were 2,343 households out of which 25.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.3% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.2% were non-families. 29.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.83.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.6% under the age of 18, 6.4% from 18 to 24, 24.5% from 25 to 44, 29.1% from 45 to 64, and 17.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 107.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,447, and the median income for a family was $41,848. Males had a median income of $36,316 versus $21,404 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,517. About 11.1% of families and 13.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.9% of those under age 18 and 5.7% of those age 65 or over.


Big Bear Valley, California
Big Bear Lakemarker 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 1906.

A trip to Big Bear Lake from San Bernardinomarker took two days on horse-drawn coaches. Kirk Phillips was a local who took a trip to New York Citymarker and saw the world's first bus line. This inspired him to create the world's second bus line from San Bernardinomarker 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.

Many people traveled to enjoy recreation on the lake, however, another major draw was the natural hot spring. Emile Jesserun bought of land that included the hot spring and built the first major resort in Big Bear, the Pan Hot Springs Hotel, in 1921. This resort was followed with others that strived to be the best by creating a country club atmosphere complete with the amenities required to lure the Hollywoodmarker celebrities of the time including Cecil B. DeMille, Shirley Temple, and Ginger Rogers. It was also a popular place for shooting on location, as they did for the filming of the 1920 version of Last of the Mohicans. 1924 saw Big Bear populated with 44 resorts and a constant stream of vacationers. The Pan Hot Springs Hotel, like many of the other resorts and hotels in Big Bear, was extensively damaged by fire in 1933.

Part of the 1969 musical film Paint Your Wagon was shot here.

Winter activities are also popular in Big Bear. The first ski jump in Big Bear was erected in 1929 and quickly claimed a world ski jump record. More jumps were built in Big Bear Lake and the Viking Ski Club of Los Angelesmarker began to use them for competition and events. The move to a winter resort town was solidified in 1952 when Tommy Tyndall opened a resort in Big Bear Lake now known as Snow Summitmarker.

Big Bear Lake was incorporated as a city on November 28, 1980.

Since 1970 Big Bear Lake has held its annual Oktoberfestmarker. From stein-carrying contests to great Germanmarker food, this event is fun for locals and visitors alike. The Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest also sports the highest Biergarten in the U.S. (in elevation).


Big Bear City Airportmarker, a general aviation airport in the Big Bear Citymarker section of unincorporated San Bernardino Countymarker, serves Big Bear Lake.Local bus service is provided by the Mountain Area Regional Transit Authority (MARTA). The MARTA Provides Service from downtownmarker San Bernardinomarker to Big Bear Lake.


In the state legislature Big Bear Lake is located in the 31st Senate District, represented by Republican Robert Dutton, and in the 65th Assembly District, represented by Republican Paul Cook. Federally, Big Bear Lake is located in California's 41st congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +9 and is represented by Republican Jerry Lewis.

Attractions and Activities

Big Bear Lake is Southern California's largest recreation lake. It is about seven miles long and about one mile at its widest. The primary summer attraction in Big Bear was fishing and it still is one of the most common activity there. The most abundant types of fish are trout, bass and catfish.Hiking, mountain biking and horse riding are also very popular. San Bernardino National Forestmarker offers many trails in varying degrees of difficulty. During winter season Big Bear Lake becomes skiing and snowboarding destination for Southern California. There are two major ski resorts: Snow Summitmarker and Bear Mountain. The town is also home to the Big Bear Lake International Film Festival, in operation since 1999.


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