What to do in Palm Springs when it’s HOT: Visit Lake Fulmor

There is nothing comparable to the California heat, and sometimes you just need a day at the lake to get away and relax. If you’re anywhere near Palm Springs, a good getaway is Lake Fulmor. Close to Idyllwild and Banning, the lake is a great spot about 5,300 feet above sea level to hang out and escape the high temperatures.

What to do in Palm Springs when it’s HOT: Visit Lake Fulmor

Lake Fulmor was initially created in 1947 after the Indian Creek was dammed, and the United States Forest Service officially named the lake after county surveyor Alexander Choate Fulmor in 1949. If you’ve traveled around a bit, chances are you may have ridden on a highway that Fulmor built, as he led the construction for many major roads throughout the United States.

Visitors began using the area for picnics a few years later, and in 1980 the Forest Service planted a sequoia tree that has multiplied and become the so-called “Lake Fulmor Grove.” While the lake’s area is quite small and only totals approximately three acres, the scenery and calm atmosphere has now become a perfect place to relax.

Where is Lake Fulmor?

Lake Fulmor is right off State Route 243, meaning there is no need for a long drive through the forest to get to the parking lot. This is convenient, as you can park and find the perfect spot within minutes. The lake is located in the San Bernardino National Forest and is a day-use-only destination, so there is no lighting once it starts to get dark out.

Visitors who like to hike but aren’t experts find Lake Fulmor a great option, as the path looping around the lake is not nearly as “advanced” as some of the other locales in the area and only takes about 30 minutes to get around. The land is relatively flat, so there aren’t any challenging slopes or hills. This is a bonus for anyone traveling to or from Palm Springs or another area, as it is an excellent place to get a quick spurt of exercise.

Like the views? You’re in luck, because the surrounding San Jacinto Mountains peek through the trees and allow you to take in their full beauty. You can do a lot of “people watching” here as well, as the lake fills up with visitors without ever being overwhelming. There is also an abundance of trees that provide much-needed shade to shield you from the desert sun.

Photography at Lake Fulmor

If you’re into photography, this place will be an oasis for you. The water is quite still thanks to the intertwining of the wind and surrounding foliage, so you can undoubtedly get some great shots while you’re there. You can even find extraordinarily large pine cones that are photo-worthy (yes, pine cones!).

Hiking & Outdoors activities at Lake Fulmor

There is plenty of wildlife around Lake Fulmor, most notably the curious squirrels and exquisite butterflies. While birdwatching may not seem too thrilling, you’ll change your mind at the lake, as the birds such as the blue jays get quite talkative, especially in the mornings and later in the afternoons. Everyone – especially the kids – will enjoy feeding the slew of ducks in the area.

Visitors also rave about the dragonflies, and while most people have seen blue ones, you can even find bright orange ones here. Some have also reported mule deer, and others have gotten glimpses of California tree frogs.

Can you fish at Lake Fulmor?

Lake Fulmor is one of the lakes in the region that allows fishing, so many visitors who have valid California fishing licenses take their rods out and try their luck in the water. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks the lake with several types of fish, including bass, rainbow trout, and bluegill.

Can you swim at Lake Fulmor?

Getting in the water for a swim, however, is not recommended by many and there is usually a notice indicating that the lake does not meet health codes and there is no lifeguard on duty. Therefore, swimming is discouraged.

Everyone likes a picnic, and Lake Fulmor has always been a great place to host one. The lake has open barbecues and fully accessible picnic tables for all to enjoy. In fact, dogs are even allowed at the lake, so put the leash on and bring yours with you. There are also fully accessible bathrooms.

You can enjoy Lake Fulmor for $5 a day, or you can get an annual pass for $30. The required “adventure passes” are available at various governmental offices and numerous local stores (you can search for a location here), so be sure to buy one of these before you head to the lake.

Whether you’re looking for a serene, relaxed day by yourself or if you’re taking the whole family for an adventure, if Lake Fulmor sounds like an ideal day away from the heat, pack your bug spray and venture a few miles out of Idyllwild.



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Palm Springs Traveller Staff