Arrowhead Lake is located in the mountains of the San Bernardino National Forest in Southern California. Arrowhead Lake measures just over 3 square kilometers and sits at an elevation of 1,562 meters above sea level. The lake itself is a man-made reservoir on Little Bear Creek, which is a tributary of the larger Deep Creek and the Mojave River.
Surrounding the lake is the unincorporated community of Lake Arrowhead, which is made up of the Lake Arrowhead, Twin Peaks, Blue Jay, Cedar Glen, Skyforest and Rimforest Sioux communities. The land is owned by the Arrowhead Lake Company, making it a private residence and privately owned land. The residential community has a population of approximately 12,500 people at the 2010 census.
The area that is now Arrowhead Lake was a much smaller natural lake known as Little Bear Lake. This region was home to the Paiute and Serrano peoples, who led predominantly nomadic lives. Later fur traders arrived in the area and formed a colony here. This ultimately led to Mormon missionaries, bear hunters, loggers, and contractors creating more permanent homes over the decades. The inhabited region was generally known as Little Bear Valley. The mid-1800s saw the digging of roads across rather than up the mountain, which led to the digging of the reservoir at the turn of the century. –
Originally, construction on the Arrowhead Lake Dam began as early as 1904, but was put on hold for several years due to disputes over land ownership and water supply. However, work eventually resumed and the dam was completed in 1915, although the reservoir was not filled until 1922.
After major earthquakes in 1971, tests were carried out to determine the stability of the dam and reservoir. As a result, it was decided that an additional reservoir, Papoose Lake, would be built as a reserve.
Tourism in Lake Arrowhead
The area is a private lake and a private residential community, but it has a strong tourism sector. In fact, tourism is the main source of economy for the region and generates millions of dollars each year for the county. Tourism is also the main source of employment for the region, and full-time and seasonal jobs in tourism and recreation are common here. An estimated 4 million tourists visit the Lake Arrowhead area per year, and accommodations include hotels, the Lake Arrowhead Resort, bed and breakfasts, cottage rentals, and motels that can accommodate around 400 people.
Attractions on the lake and in the surrounding community include a golf course, Lake Arrowhead Country Club, Lake Arrowhead Yacht Club, and a Santa Claus Village. The village has about fifty shops and restaurants on the waterfront for locals and guests. In addition, a variety of festivals and events, both cultural and tourist, are held here. Many of them are sponsored or hosted in conjunction with the Mountain Skies Astronomical Society and the Arrowhead Arts Association.
Wildlife in and around Arrowhead Lake
Although the current lake is a cultivated reservoir, the original area was home to a small Little Bear Lake, as well as natural rivers. As such, the area was, and continues to be, home to wildlife. Although some animals have evolved with the increased development of the region, several species can still be seen in the quieter regions and surrounding forests.
Pine forests are the most common in this region, with Coulter and Big Cone pines growing in abundance. Other tree species include the California black oak and the maple leaf oak. In addition to these trees, one can find wild flowers and shrubs like sage, sedum and cone flower.
In terms of animals, forest creatures and birds are common. The most common bird species in Lake Arrowhead is the Steller’s jay, as well as, to a lesser extent, the California scrub jay. Ducks, woodpeckers and bald eagles also make their home in this region. Mammals in the region are mostly smaller forest dwellers like squirrels, raccoons, and chipmunks, although coyotes and gray foxes also roam areas less populated by humans. The wider San Bernardino region also has black bears, California mule deer, bighorn sheep, pumas, and bobcats.
This protected private land is a mix of rich homes and unspoiled wilderness. From the industrial feat of the reservoir to the natural forest and rivers of the area, the community of Lake Arrowhead has become a beautiful getaway for tourists and a luxurious community for the wealthy and fortunate to call home.