Big Bear Lake is a city in San Bernardino County, California along the south shore of Big Bear Lake. The population was 5,438 at the 2000 census. It is a resort destination for southern California, especially for its ski areas.
Big Bear Lake was inhabited by the indigenous Serrano Indians for over 2000 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 Bernardino took two days on horse drawn coaches. Kirk Phillips was a local that took a trip to New York City and saw the world's first bus line. This inspired him to create the world's second bus line from San Bernardino 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 40 acres 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 Hollywood 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
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 Angeles 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 Summit.
Big Bear Lake incorporated as a city on November 28, 1980.
Big Bear Lake is also where top MMA fighters train to take advantage of the benefits offered by high altitude training. Fighters who train at Big Bear include Tito Ortiz, Rampage Jackson, Kendall Grove, and Josh Barnett.
Since 1970 Big Bear Lake has held it's annual Octoberfest. From Stein carrying contests to great German food, This event is fun for locals and visitors alike. Big Bear Lake Octoberfest also sports the highest Biergarten in the U.S.