In Your Backyard - Big Bear

Big Bear Lake is a small, quaint, quiet town in the San Bernardino mountains - less than five hours from Fresno.

In this edition of "In Your Backyard," FOX26 Sports Anchor Nick King is skiing in Big Bear Lake. Hidden in the San Bernardino mountains of Southern California, Big Bear is a little less than a five hour drive from Fresno. As Monique Rangel of the Big Bear Visitors Center says, it's "a gem in the mountains. It's beautiful here. I mean we have nature, green trees, a beautiful lake, you know, over 300+ days of sunshine."

In the winter, Big Bear Mountain Resort boasts consistent skiing and snowboarding on two hills - Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. The two are less than a mile apart, and lift tickets are interchangeable. You can actually try one mountain in the morning, and the other in the afternoon, even riding a free shuttle to get from one to the other.

With peak elevations above 8,000 feet, both mountains do get natural snow - but even in a dry winter, the resort manages to consistently keep most of the trails open, and looking fluffy - thanks to a super sophisticated snowmaking system. These were actually some of the first slopes in the world to start artificial snowmaking, in the early 1950's.

Another unique fact about Big Bear Lake - right at the base of Bear Mountain is the Big Bear Alpine Zoo. It's believed to be the highest elevation zoo in the United States, and houses mostly hut animals that wouldn't have survived in the wild.

As Alpine Zoo curator Bob Cisneros explains, "The mission of the zoo is twofold. One, to connect people to wildlife. And we do that by helping to educate the public about the uniqueness of this species that we have here on the mountain and also here at the zoo. And then the second part of our mission is to provide a resource for rescue and rehabilitation injured or orphaned wildlife.”

The Alpine Zoo is small - just 2.5 acres - but it's been around for almost 60 years, and will open a new, 5.5 acre location just down the street later in 2018.

"We are the little zoo that could," says Cisneros. "Big Bear is teeming full of wildlife and it's one of the reasons why we feel it's so important to support mountain stewardship and get people to really appreciate making sure that we play a positive role in protecting wild places and wildlife.”

For this trip, Nick stayed at Big Bear Frontier, which offers "30 unique cabin styles and 24 hotel lodge units with comfortably shaded accommodations. Located within minutes of all Big Bear has to offer, these cabins, hotel and motel each have their own unique personality and appeal."

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