Big Bear Lake or Lake Arrowhead?
A common question that we get asked by clients and visitors to Big Bear is, “How is Big Bear Lake different from Lake Arrowhead?”. This is a great question since Big Bear and Arrowhead have many similarities. Both are mountain lake resort communities located in the San Bernardino Mountains. Tourism is the primary economic generator for both communities, and both host millions of visitors annually. Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead are only about 15 miles apart as the crow flies, and about a 45-minute drive.
5 Distinct Differences
1. Lake Use
Big Bear Lake is a public lake with two public boat launch ramps. Six marinas offer boat rentals and other concessions including pontoon boats, speedboats and personal watercraft. There are a wide variety of activities, such as parasailing, water skiing, fishing excursions, and boat tours. People can picnic lakeside and enjoy the iconic rock formations at Boulder Bay Park. Swim Beach at Meadow Park has an on-duty lifeguard, floating dock, and water toys.
Lake Arrowhead is an exclusive private lake and is much smaller. Its use is restricted to homeowners in a tract of land roughly one mile around the perimeter of the lake, known as “Arrowhead Woods”. Visitors to the area can access the lake by boat on the Arrowhead Queen Lake Tour, by water ski through the McKenzie Water Ski School, or on foot by strolling at Lake Arrowhead Village.
2. Winter Sports / Snow Play
Big Bear’s elevation is about 7,000 ft, which allows for a winter climate that is conducive to winter sports and snow play. Big Bear Lake is home to Snow Summit and Bear Mountain, Southern California’s premier ski/snowboard resorts. Popular sledding hills include Big Bear Snow Play and Magic Mountain. When Mother Nature does not provide enough natural snow, the ski resorts and snow play areas employ state-of-the-art snowmaking systems to keep conditions consistent throughout the winter season.
Lake Arrowhead sits at a lower elevation that is high enough for winter snowfall but not quite high enough for sustained winter play conditions. The nearest ski resort to Lake Arrowhead is Snow Valley, about a 30-minute drive.
3. Air Travel
Big Bear Valley has its own community airport. The Big Bear Airport is a popular destination for private pilots to visit. The airport runway is 6,800 ft. long and can accommodate all types of aircraft including small jets and military aircraft. Helicopter tours of Big Bear are available for visitors.
Lake Arrowhead does not have a functional airport. There is a nearby unpaved runway, which is considered unusable, and the status of this airport is currently “closed.”
4. Revenue Generation
Big Bear has a myriad of mountain resort activities and events to offer its visitors. This draw creates opportunities for homeowners in Big Bear to rent their homes to vacationers. The potential for revenue generation from real estate is considerably better in Big Bear because of the numerous attractions. Vacation rental management companies such as Big Bear Vacations streamline the vacation rental process for property owners and vacationers.
Since Lake Arrowhead is also a resort destination that thrives on tourism, the area does offer lodging and cabin rentals to visitors. There is simply lower demand for vacation rentals and fewer opportunities to generate return on real estate investment properties.
The City of Big Bear Lake is an incorporated city in San Bernardino County with its own local governing body. Not to be confused with Big Bear City, which is immediately east of Big Bear Lake, the City of Big Bear Lake is comprised of the geographic area along the south shore of Big Bear Lake. Big Bear City is part of the unincorporated areas that make up the surrounding areas of Big Bear Lake in the Big Bear Valley.
Lake Arrowhead is an unincorporated community and a census-designated place in San Bernardino County. Lake Arrowhead is a private lake governed by the Arrowhead Lake Association, and is for restricted use by Lake Arrowhead property owners.
Different Strokes For Different Folks
Big Bear Lake has much to offer the adventurous vacationer who wants to experience the great outdoors and the wonderful activities that a mountain resort destination can offer. Four seasons in Big Bear allow for lake recreation in the warmer months, and snow play in the winter. Accessible by land or air, Big Bear is popular destination for travelers of all kinds. The vacation rental industry in Big Bear is an exciting and lucrative option for second homeowners and investors interested in earning returns on real estate.
Lake Arrowhead can appeal to the person who is perhaps interested in a “road less traveled”. Lower elevation and fewer snow days can make it easier getting to and around the area. The smaller, more exclusive mountain community may suit people who are less interested in winter sports activities, public lake access, and the associated tourist traffic.
Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead are both wonderful mountain resort communities and each has its own charm and appeal. If you are interested in learning more about Big Bear and/or would like more information about the exciting real estate investment opportunities available, call us at (909) 547-7550 or contact us here.