If the drive to Idyllwild from Palm Desert is exhilirating, the drive to Big Bear Lake from the desert is intoxicating. Nestled in the San Bernadino Mountains northwest of Palm Desert, Big Bear Lake is about 100 miles away. From the southern California Gold Rush to the construction of Big Bear Lake Dam to becoming a Hollywood backlot, Big Bear Lake is filled with history.*
There are multiple routes to get there, and the concierge at Desert Springs Villas highly recommended we try Hwy 62 which skirts the Joshua Tree National Park and dives into the flatlands of Johnson Valley OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) area along Hwy 247. Compared to the barren Hwy 74 through the Santa Rosa Mountains, Hwy 62 takes you past the flowering cactus trees that characterize the beauty of the California desert.
Palm Desert (lower right) is about 100 miles southwest of Big Bear Lake (upper left) Hwy 62 to Hwy 247 is partially outlined in red
After an early morning drive through Morongo Canyon, Joshua Tree and Johnson Valley OHV, the trip into the San Bernardino mountains to Big Bear Lake takes you 6,700 feet above sea level. The air is crisp, cool and fresh. Ideal for refuge from the heat of the desert, Big Bear Lake features water sports during the summer and skiing, snow boarding and other sports during the winter. From first hand experience, I can tell you that the drive from Palm Desert to Big Bear Lake builds a bodacious appetite.
Big Bear Lake Marina