San Bernardino National Forest Camping Overview

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San Bernardino National Forest Camping Travel Tips

  • Dark Canyon Campground near Idyllwild has only 17 sites, some near Dark Canyon's stream and others in the dense shade of mixed conifers. Despite the masses of Southern Californians who come to Idyllwild's mountains to escape the summer heat, all is peaceful here. Neighboring Fern Basin and Marion Mountain campgrounds are also good choices.
  • A forest of Jeffrey pines surrounds Hanna Flats Campground near Fawnskin, Big Bear Lake's most charming town. The lake is a busy place on summer weekends, but the dirt access road to Hanna Flats limits the number of people who camp here. A hiking and mountain-biking trail leads from camp to Grout Bay.
  • Pine Knot Campground is located up on a hill above Big Bear Lake, adjacent to Snow Summit Ski Area. Its 52 sites are tucked among the conifers, providing plenty of privacy and the flush toilets are a welcome luxury. This is a great spot for families, with only a short drive to the lake and town.
  • San Bernardino National Forest allows "yellow post camping" at designated sites near Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, and Idyllwild. Yellow post camps are flat clearings with a picnic table and firewood, but no water or toilet facilities. Campers must pack out their own trash. There is no fee, but an interagency access pass and campfire permit are required.
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Developed camping is camping at family campgrounds and group campgrounds that have services and facilities. Fees are charged. Most campgrounds open in May and close in October.

Family campgrounds are generally equipped with vault or flush toilets, fire rings, and/or stoves, tables, and parking spaces. Fees are charged and drinking water is available. Showers and electrical hookups are available only at Serrano Campground.

Group campgrounds can accommodate groups of 10 to 100 people. Group campground reservations are handled by Biospherics (800-280-CAMP) on the San Gorgonio and the San Jacinto ranger districts. In the other areas, group reservations are handled at the local Ranger Station.

Undeveloped camping includes all the varieties of camping outside of a developed site. Camping is allowed in designated Remote Areas (formerly known as Dispersed Areas) and at Yellow Post Sites. There are no fees or services. Undeveloped camping provides more solitude and an opportunity to "rough it."


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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