Backed by mountain wilderness and filled with galleries, Idyllwild is a haven for both outdoor recreation and the arts.
Steep forested slopes broken by granite domes make a dramatic setting for this pine-shaded community of less than 4,000 year-round residents. Trails near town (try the Deer Springs Trail) lead into the San Jacinto Wilderness, including both day hike routes and the challenging ascent to Mount San Jacinto (elevation 10,834 feet/3,302 meters). The area’s granite outcrops helped turn Idyllwild into an early center for American rock climbing and it’s still one of the sport’s top destinations.
"The area’s granite outcrops helped turn Idyllwild into an early center for American rock climbing and it’s still one of the sport’s top destinations."
Culture plays a big part in local life too. Idyllwild was once named one of America’s top art towns; browse galleries displaying works by local as well as nationally renowned artists and craftspeople. It’s also home to the famous Idyllwild Arts Academy, and each summer leading musicians come to these mountains to perform on three outdoor stages during the Idyllwild Jazz in the Pines festival.
With its inviting destinations and uncrowded wilderness, this region feels like an insider’s secret amid the bustling excitement of Southern California.
Mount San Gorgonio—nicknamed “Old Grayback”—is the tallest peak in Southern California, at 11,502 feet/3,506 meters.
Surprising alpine scenery around Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear beckons, with pine-scented trails in summer and winter sports when the snow flies. If you’re into action, get the adrenaline rush of seeing the world’s best NASCAR racers compete at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. For a dreamier escape, float in a hot-air balloon above rolling Temecula Valley wine country.
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