Los Angeles Times - - SATUR­DAY - BY ELISA PARHAD

MY FAM­ILY WASN’T SURE WHAT TO EX­PECT when we headed past the gi­ant candy cane to the en­trance of Sky­Park at Santa’s Vil­lage and the faux alpine houses where we were to sign our ac­tiv­ity and COVID- 19 waiver.

But the cool breeze through the pine trees sur­round­ing the park in Sky­for­est, near Lake Ar­row­head, was wel­come re­lief from the sear­ing mid- Au­gust heat we had en­dured in the val­ley be­low.

For our sons, 7 and 10, an­tic­i­pa­tion was high. The op­tions at the ad­ven­ture park sur­passed those even of Dis­ney­land or Le­goland, with archery, BB guns, ax throw­ing, roller­skat­ing, rock climb­ing, f ly fish­ing and moun­tain bik­ing.

I was re­lieved that we had de­cided to camp across the high­way at the Sky­Park Camp & RV Re­sort, perched on the edge of the San Bernardino Moun­tains, to give our­selves two days of fun. It was clear we were go­ing to need the time.

The Christ­masy kitsch was just enough to hint at the retroalpin­e- themed Santa’s Vil­lage beloved by gen­er­a­tions of Cal­i­for­ni­ans. The amuse­ment park opened in 1955, six weeks be­fore Dis­ney­land made its de­but, ac­cord­ing to the web­site.

Some­thing got us in a win­try mood — maybe it was the red Letters to Santa mail­box or Santa’s house — that lured us into Kringle’s Cof­fee for warm bev­er­ages as we worked out our plan for the day.

First pri­or­ity was pedal cars and archery for our youngest, f ly fish­ing and BB guns for our old­est. My hus­band and I wanted to try the 10 miles of moun­tain bike trails be­hind the park, so we did what many fam­i­lies do: tag team to en­sure each of us had a chance to pur­sue our ac­tiv­i­ties.

Al­though, to be clear, I was game for it all.

Not only did we have gobs of fun hit­ting what seemed like ev­ery inch of the 230- acre park, we also learned a thing or two. As a par­ent, it was worth ev­ery bit of the $ 49 ad­mis­sion price. Tra­di­tional roller skates are pre­ferred over in­line ( but ice skat­ing ses­sions were re­quested); moun­tain bike trails are too scary for the youngest; and f ly fish­ing, which pro­vided three full hours of joy, is sec­ond in line af­ter bait fish­ing. De­spite the sec­ond- place pref­er­ence, my son was ec­static to get lessons.

And for the adults? Moun­tain bik­ing through for­est trails was a high­light, but an­other pas­time pro­vided thrills too. It turns out that ax throw­ing is med­i­ta­tive and ad­dic­tive, and if the op­por­tu­nity to join a team arose, I’d be ready with my hatchet.

Un­less you are a full- grown adult Dis­ney fa­natic, I don’t know of any other place that of­fers so many op­tions for ev­ery age — and good food to boot.

Af­ter we had worn our­selves as thin as Santa’s elves af­ter Christ­mas Day, we went across the high­way to the camp­ground, which had opened a few weeks be­fore.

We didn’t know what the tent- site sit­u­a­tion would be like, so we de­cided on an RV spot ( site 40) that en­sured a spec­tac­u­lar view of San Bernardino and the Los An­ge­les basin. When the sun started to set, there wasn’t an­other place I would rather be than at the edge of our site, look­ing at the city lights be­low as they started to twin­kle.

Al­though wood camp­fires are not al­lowed in the camp­ground, there are three com­mu­nity fire pits where we roasted marsh­mal­lows. ( These might be closed be­cause of fire risk in the area.)

My fam­ily is used to prim­i­tive camp­ing deep in the woods, but we were happy to find the Sky­Park re­sort a pris­tine des­ti­na­tion with show­ers, laun­dry fa­cil­i­ties and Wi- Fi.

If you choose a tent site, be aware they are all walk- in; bring your own fold­ing ta­bles and shade, as both are scarce.

The beauty of this setup is that you can en­joy the park an­dother de­lights of the Lake Ar­row­head area, then con­tinue the ad­ven­ture into the evening, com­plete with a sun­set, s’mores and a sky full of stars.

We’ll be back when ice skat­ing and snow are ad­di­tional at­trac­tions, though you might not find us in a tent.


> Sky­Park, 28950 Cal­i­for­nia 18, Sky­for­est; ( 909) 744- 9373, sky park­san­tasvil­lage.com. Open daily. Reser­va­tions re­quired; ad­mis­sion is $ 45 for adults, $ 35 for chil­dren 4 to 12. Some at­trac­tions may be closed be­cause of COVID- 19 re­stric­tions. So­cial-dis­tanc­ing pro­to­cols are en­forced; masks are re­quired ex­cept when ex­er­cis­ing. Fre­quently touched items are dis­in­fected be­tween each use.

Sky­Park Camp & RV Re­sort,

> 29297 Cal­i­for­nia 18, Sky­for­est; ( 909) 744- 9927, sky­park­cam­prv . com. Tent sites from $ 25; $ 63 to $ 110 for RV sites. By reser­va­tion only; lim­ited oc­cu­pancy. Masks and so­cial dis­tanc­ing re­quired.

MOUN­TAIN bik­ers, from top, catch some air on the Slayride trail at Sky­park at Santa’s Vil­lage. A Sky­Park guest prac­tices her aim in the archery range, while ax throw­ing at­tracts oth­ers. Char­ac­ters roam the park greet­ing vis­i­tors, in­clud­ing the main at­trac­tion him­self, Santa Claus.

Pho­tog r aphs by Da­nia Maxwell Los An­ge­les Times

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