When staying at the Desert Springs Villas, JW Marriott, Renaissance, Residence Inn or Fairfield Inn in Palm Desert, California, a visit to Lake Arrowhead will be among the highpoints of your trip.
Only 90 minutes from Desert Springs, Lake Arrowhead is very popular 4 seasons of the year. This mountain lake community thrives on boating during the summer and skiing in the winter among other activities.
The concierge at the Desert Springs Villas clubhouse gave us the best directions with tips on where to stop, dine and take in the views - which are plentiful. If the drive to Idyllwild was exhilirating and the trip to Big Bear Lake bodacious, visiting Lake Arrowhead is absolutely an adventure for the entire family.
Saving the best of our Desert Springs vacation for last, here are some of the highlights of our Lake Arrowhead Adventure.
Lake Arrowhead Telemap (Google)
Lake Arrowhead Satellite View (Google)
Right-click, View Image to enlarge. Back to return.
Nestled about 6,500 feet above sea level in the San Bernadino National Forest, Lake Arrowhead may be reached from Palm Desert or Los Angeles off of Interstate 10. Local Hwy 173 and 189 take you to the hub of activity, Lake Arrowhead Village shown in the satellite image in the lower left.
Imagine that you're in the desert surrounded by mountains and clueless as to what to expect if you drive 7,000 feet above sea level, snaking through the mountains and navigating hairpin turns at 15, 20, 25 miles per hour. Imagine too, that it's one thing to look at a vista from the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building and another to be on a hairpin turn looking down.
View of the San Bernadino mountains and the valley below from a turnout on a hairpin turn about 6,000 feet above sea level
At about 7,500 feet above sea level, you notice that you're getting a bit light-headed. The air is about 40 degrees cooler than the desert, fresh, clean and SMOKE-FREE.
You'd think that you should have reached the destination by now. Nope. Now you have to go down on the other side of the mountain that you've just did a gazillion hairpin turns. The rocks and cactus are long gone.
Instead of Smokey the Bear signs and endless trees, now you're seeing traces of civilization. Log cabins, A-frame structures, hidden driveways, bridges to cliffside houses and Smokey the Bear statues, lots of them:
More and more become visible as you wind your way down. You realize that you are no longer in the desert with palm trees and cactus. You're NOT in Disneyland; you're now in what can only be described as an alpine village in the San Bernadino mountains of Southern California!
After all those hairpin turns, head to the Lake Arrowhead marina to retreat and relax aboard the Lake Arrowhead Queen Tour Boat. Tour the coves along the alpine shores while weaving between sailing enthusiasts enjoying the majesty of this pristine lake high in the San Bernadino mountains. Tips: Pick up a bag lunch and enjoy the ride. After being in the desert, it can feel cool out on the lake so bring a windbreaker or sweatshirt.
Along Lake Arrowhead Village there are several dining venues and eateries where you can enjoy your favorites alfresco. Lake Arrowhead Village also has a live Concert series, so make sure to plan in advance.