About Bear Valley
The Bear Valley and Lake Alpine region of Alpine County has a rich history, and today hosts thousands of visitors, many who take part in the wide recreational activities available throughout the year.
This area was originally named Grizzly Bear Valley by explorer Jedediah Smith, who traveled up the Stanislaus River drainage on his journey across the Sierra Nevada in 1827 following the route of today’s Highway 4, which was designated a National Scenic Byway in October 2005.
In 1850, the route was traced by Major John Ebbett’s, who led a company of miners across this route. The Major’s death in 1854 resulted in the naming of the pass in his honor. A toll road, known locally as the Big Trees Road, operated from 1866 to 1911, while today, the highway is one of Alpine County’s state scenic highways.
Development of the Bear Valley Village and nearby ski area began in the early 1960′s. Located on the site of Blood’s Toll Station, homesteaded by Harvey Blood a hundred years earlier, development began with the purchase of 480 acres in 1952 by the Orvis family, prominent San Joaquin Valley ranchers.
In 1955, 20 acres on the north side of the valley were subdivided, marking the beginning of today’s Bear Valley community.
The Bear Valley Mountain Resort, originally named Mt. Reba, opened in December 1967, while the construction of homes, condominiums and commercial facilities began about the same time. Nearby Lake Alpine, a manmade reservoir, offers a rustic lodge, cabins, restaurant and store, as well as a large concentration of camping facilities.
Today, Bear Valley is a recreational paradise, offering a multitude of summer and winter sports, and is close to foothill golf courses and the Calaveras Big Trees State Park. The community is also home to the oldest cultural event in Alpine County, the Bear Valley Music Festival, held every August.
Click the following links to find campgrounds in the
Three dozen campgrounds, plus thousands of acres of dispersed camping, makes Alpine County a favorite with campers. A range of facilities are available, from primitive sites along a rushing stream, to lakeside campgrounds with swimming, fishing and boating.
Developed facilities are managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Alpine County and California State Parks, as well as by private owners.
With elevations ranging from 5000 to 8000 feet, campgrounds are clustered around Lake Alpine on the west, and at Caples Lake, Hope Valley and Markleeville on the east.
Undeveloped, or dispersed, sites are found in a variety of locations around Alpine County. Popular spots include Centerville Flats, Wolf Creek Meadows, Pacific Valley and a variety of locations in Hope, Faith & Charity Valleys.