Big Bear Valley, nearly 7,000 feet above sea level in the San Bernardino Mountains, was once home to Serrano Indians, Spanish missionaries, hunters and prospectors.
The valley is now home to the city of Big Bear Lake, with a population of about 6,000, and the unincorporated communities of Big Bear City, Fawnskin and Sugarloaf.
The blue-green waters, towering pine trees and cool temperatures have made Big Bear Lake a favorite outdoor playground and a prime Hollywood filming location. The shady woods and rocky shores provided the backdrop for such classic movies as "Old Yeller," "Gunsmoke" and "Gone With the Wind."
So far, at least, property values in the region have held up relatively well. Residential home values in Big Bear Lake have fallen 30% from the peak in 2006, according to San Diego-based MDA DataQuick, a real estate information service. In comparison, home values in Southern California as a whole dropped 51% from their peak in 2007.
Loren Hafen, owner of Holloway's Marina at Big Bear Lake and of the marina's touring pirate ship, says business is on par with last year.
At Hafen's 380-slip marina, all but about 30 slips have already been rented to boat owners. He expects nearly all to be rented by July 4, the traditional start of vacation season on the lake.
The pirate ship sails the lake at least once each weekday and more often on weekends, and rentals of RV spaces at the marina are up nearly 5% over last year, Hafen said.
"All indicators now are good," he said.