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            Big Bear Lake, with its close proximity to Los Angeles and cooler temperatures, is a favorite summer getaway for thousands of campers.  The lake itself, of course, offers all kinds of recreational activities, including sailing, canoeing, water skiing, fishing, and swimming.  Or you can just relax in the shade and enjoy the mountain breezes.  If you tire of the rustic lifestyle, the area's restaurants range from fast food to fine dining, representing nearly every specialty, and there are shopping and entertainment options galore.  Here's what you need to know for a successful Big Bear camping trip.

National Forest Camping

            Big Bear Lake is located within the San Bernardino National Forest, as is much of the available camping space.  On the lake's north shore the Serrano Campground is the most developed, with showers available, and the most popular Big Bear camping site.  It's closest to the Big Bear Discovery Center and has ready access to hiking and bike trails.  Yellow post campgrounds are free, but have no water; a permit is required.  All campers in any Southern California national forest must purchase an Adventure Pass ($5/day or $30/year) for recreational use.

Big Bear Discovery Center

            The Big Bear Discovery Center, in Big Bear Valley near the Serrano Campground, is a goldmine of information about Big Bear camping. Here you can get maps and campground information, as well as Adventure Passes and Forest Service permits.  There is a schedule of interpretive programs and campfires, and signups for canoe and kayak tours along the lakeshore. And your kids can pan for gold or join the junior ranger program.

RV Resorts

            If you prefer resort-style amenities you don't have to be left out of the Big Bear camping experience.  There are a number of RV parks and resorts in the area, a couple of which also provide marina services.  Holloway's Marina and RV Park is one of those.  It has over 100 sites with full hookups, and also offers a playground, horseshoes, and basketball.  At the marina, you can rent all kinds of water craft and gear or take a cruise on the Time Bandit pirate ship.