Top Ten Los Angeles Adventures

Big Bear Yellow Post Campgrounds, San Bernardino National Forest

Few sights have the power to calm an L.A. native faster than the view of a smoggy city from a high mountain lookout. Explanation: You're up above the filth, not in it, and that knowledge is one of the greatest joys a city dweller can find. The twisty drive up to Big Bear, in San Bernardino National Forest, offers many such opportunities. Park your car along a ledge and gaze down onto the murky San Bernardino Valley, breathe the clean mountain air, and continue on your way.

This out-of-the-city decompression ritual would go to waste if the only camping options were those with RV generators and screaming teens, which describes most of what this area has to offer. Fortunately, the U.S. Forest Service saw fit to provide an alternative: 30 primitive campsites, each at the end of a long dirt road, totally isolated from other campers and the noise that goes with them. These sites, called Yellow Post campgrounds, are scattered throughout the San Bernardino Mountains near Big Bear. What they all have in common is plenty of space in which to set up camp under the pines, and easy access to hiking trails that lead far into the forest.

To get a site, stop by the Big Bear Ranger Station for a wilderness permit. The rangers will show you photographs of your options, assign you the site of your choice, and send you away with driving directions. In the summer, these sites fill up on weekends. Getting there early is a must.


Directions: Take Interstate 10 to California 38. The ranger station is on 38, three miles east of Fawnskin.

Travel Time: Approximately 2 1/2 hours

Information: 909-866-3437

Reservations: No

Fee: No

Open: Year-round


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