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Rim of the World Scenic Byway

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Oak Flat Lookout
Here’s a rare chance to spend the night in a retired fire lookout with an unbeatable 360-degree view of the surrounding oak woodlands, the scenic Kern River, and the rugged Greenhorn Mountains. If you plan a springtime visit, enjoy the dramatic wildflower displays.
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Rim of The World Scenic Byway Tour
Description: This 110-mile route traverses the rim of the San Bernardino Mountains from Cajon Pass to San Gorgonio Pass through desert and coastal valley to high elevation forests and several lakes. This byway is located in the Front Country and Mountaintop Ranger Districts. Allow at least 8 hours to make the round trip and watch for interpretive panels along the way. Adventure Pass is required to recreate along this route. There are entry fees for this site: $5.00

Wildlife to Watch: In the desert chaparral surrounding Mormon Rocks Station, you will find coast horned lizards, California thrashers and western kingbirds. The rugged cliffs are favored by white-throated swifts and birds of prey. Watch for golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, and coyotes at Crowder Canyon. The conifers are home to gray squirrels, mule deer, wild turkeys, mountain quail, and acorn woodpeckers.

Big Bear Lake hosts abundant wintering waterfowl, including grebes, great blue herons, and American white pelicans. Take advantage of the winter bald eagle tours and spring plant walks at the Big Bear Discovery Center. Heavy conifers in Onyx Summit, the highest point on this byway, hide northern flickers, white-headed woodpeckers, Townsend's solitaires and many other forest birds. Watch for mule deer and black bears when driving through the Santa Ana River watershed.

Special Tips: Distant views are affected by summer smog. When snowing, roads are closed or chains are required. Roads winding and steep. Use pullouts and watch for other traffic.

Other Activities: Stop at Heap's Peak Arboretum, where a nature trail provides glimpses of coyotes, gray foxes, many songbirds and wildflowers.

Thurman Flats is southern California's largest alder grove and a birding hotspot where you can enjoy scores of riparian species, from western toads and Pacific tree frogs to American dippers, orioles, and goldfinches.

Ownership: Forest Service, San Bernardino NF 
Size: 110 miles 
Closest Town: Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, Running Springs, CA

RestroomsTent CampingFishingCross Country SkiingHikingPicnic tablesBoat LaunchHorse TrailsHandicap AccessibleFeeLarge BoatsSmall BoatsDrinking WaterBicyclingAuto TourRV Pullout

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Rim World Big Bear - Photo by USDA Forest Service
Please use Map Link below

Driving Directions:
Begin on Highway 138 two miles west of Interstate 15 at Mormon Rocks Station. Follow Highway 138 east, over Interstate 15, and weave through Crowder Canyon, climbing through dense conifers. At Highway 18, follow the byway east, using pullouts to spot golden eagles, red-shouldered hawks, and sharp-shinned hawks soaring on thermal updrafts. Stop at Heap's Peak Arboretum and then continue east through Running Springs, to Big Bear Lake. Follow Highway 38 to the lake's north side visitor center. Continue on and ascend to Onyx Summit. Descend the mountain through the Santa Ana River watershed and finish up at Thurman Flats. Continue west to the junction with Interstate 10.

Map Link

Rim of The World Scenic Byway Tour : Wildlife Viewing Area