The new mountain lake formed by the 1884 dam created a great interest in Big Bear Valley for recreation. Soon, the five abandoned dam builders’ cabins were being regularly used by trail weary travelers.
In 1888, Gus Knight and John Metcalf, cattlemen, built the first hotel in the valley. It provided 50 sleeping cots for guests!
When a new wagon road from Santa Ana Canyon was completed in 1899, visitors flocked to the lake in the pines. By 1916, two control roads climbed the front way into the area via Mill and City Creeks, and with the development of capable automobiles, the number of resorts continually increased. In 1924 over 24,000 cars visited Big Bear over the 4th of July weekend alone.
Camps on the north shore were Gray’s, Fawnskin, Moon, Cluster Pines, Good Luck, Lighthouse, Lemcke, Juniper, and Stanfield’s. Far more were on the south shore where the Pine Knot Post Office was located. Some of these camps were Stillwell’s, Chad’s, Bartlett’s, Andrew’s, Barney’s, Boulder Bay, Carter’s, Bluff Lake, Lunde’s, Holloway’s, Case’s, Gordon’s, Lowe’s, and Eureka. Among the lodges were Tamarack, Lagonita, Paramount, Blue Bird, and Pine Wood.
The Navajo and Highlander Hotels were kept busy, and a few years later the beautiful Peter Pan Woodland Club and the Pan Hot Springs Inn welcomed guests in the east valley.
The primary summer attraction by the 1920’s was the fishing. There was a state fish hatchery at Greenspot, south of Erwin Lake. Fishing, boating, mountain biking, and hiking are great attractions in the summer to this day.
Big Bear Valley has become Southern California’s most popular year-around resort, and offers visitors a wide selection of accommodations and activities.