WRITTEN BY Alejandra Saragoza
Alejandra is the managing editor of California.com. She's a California native based in the Bay Area and enjoys writing about all things food and travel related. Her work can also be seen in Diablo, T…See full bio
Located within the Greater Los Angeles Area, the vast San Bernardino County is known for its numerous natural wonders that offer a variety of recreational activities.
One of the county’s most iconic destinations for outdoor enthusiasts is Joshua Tree National Park, where both the Mojave and Colorado Desert ecosystems come together. As the name implies, this park is famous for the gnarled Joshua trees that dot its terrain, as well as for its rugged rock formations, fascinating flora and fauna, and stark landscape. No matter what visitors fancy, there’s something for every interest, whether it’s climbing and bouldering, hiking a diverse selection of trails, pedaling along mountain-biking pathways, taking in the scenery on horseback, or spending a night stargazing.
Another popular spot for adventurers is Death Valley National Park. Despite its moniker, Death Valley is home to a variety of animals (including a large number of bird species) and plants that have adapted to the desert’s harsh environment. Visitors can explore the 3.4-million-acre expanse by car (both paved and backcountry roads take drivers to numerous must-see sites), by bike (cyclists have access to more than 785 miles of trails), or by foot (hikers and backpackers can wander on their own or go on a themed ranger-led walk)—and can even take a self-guided tour of Star Wars filming locations.
For those seeking a different type of escape, San Bernardino National Forest has long been a county favorite. Encompassing 154,000 acres, the natural landmark offers miles of multi-use trails, scenic camping sites, and an array of rivers and lakes where fishers can cast their lines. And in colder months, the forest transforms into a winter wonderland, providing opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and snowshoeing. Located within the national forest, Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead are other year-round mountain paradises that provide something everyone. In addition to recreational activities—such as fishing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and winter sports—both offer top-notch restaurants, entertainment, and lots of shops.
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