Tour of the San Bernardino Mountains: Rim of the World Highway
The San Bernardino Mountains are a beautiful place to visit year around. This tour was during the fall around Thanksgiving just after a rainstorm. There were many beautiful clouds in the sky, which made for some beautiful photographers coming up Highway 18. I also took some pictures going down Highway 18 on a sunny day, but I had to include these just so you can see all the details of this highway's beauty. The Rim of the World Highway is considered one of the most scenic routes in the US and is referred to as the Rim of the World Highway because of it on the edge of the mountain. Many newcomers to the mountains have experienced vertigo and dizziness by looking down the precipices, so this drive/ride may not be for you if heights are not your thing. People have gone off the side of this highway in good and bad weather, and I always felt sad when I saw people flip or have a bad accident on this stretch of road. Some people liked to make jokes about it and thought it was humorous, but I just never got that sort of mentality. Even as a child I used to have dreams about being in a fast convertible driven by a crazy man, and I would fly out of the car and down the side of the mountain. I was never truly scared of the drives up the mountain and looking down at the valley below, but I can appreciate how some newcomers might be. My step-grandma swore she was going plunge to her death every time her and my grandpa drove their RV up to visit us in Lake Arrowhead. The Rim of the World Highway is approximately twenty miles between San Bernardino and Lake Arrowhead Village. However, the entire highway is 101 miles between San Bernardino and Apple Valley, and this was the longest stretch of mountain road back when it was first constructed in 1915.
Several movies have been filmed on Highway 18 such as the movie Next, which had several scened that were filmed on Highway 18. In Next a psychic magician named Cris Johnson (Nicholas Cage) can see a few minutes into the future, but when he meets Liz Cooper (Jessica Biel) he can see even farther into future events. FBI agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore) is interested in using his psychic abilities help find a group of terrorists who are planning on attacking Los Angeles. Cris is running from the FBI, but you will just have to watch the movie to see why. One of the reasons I was interested in this movie because they filmed the motel scene at the Cliffhanger off Highway 18. It is amusing seeing your home turf double as a small town in the Grand Canyon, but they probably only thought they could get away with this because the trees are thinner due to fires and the bark beetles that have changed the landscape. Anyone who grew up in the San Bernardino mountains will know right off the bat that the scenes filmed in the Grand Canyon certainly due look more like Southern California Mountains.
It was amusing driving up Highway 18 back in 2006 and seeing the cheesy set props that were on the Cliffhanger set, which I wish I had been able to get a picture of while going up Highway 18 the other day. This has been a location for several restaurants over the years, but once again it is vacant. The most exciting thing that has happened to the Cliffhanger in years is when Next was filmed there, which is a little sad because it is a nice location for a restaurant. If you are ever driving up the Rim of the World Highway, make sure to keep an eye out for the Cliffhanger on the right side of the street. It is hard to miss since the Cliffhanger is literally hanging straight off the cliff. Driving up the San Bernardino Mountains on Highway 18 is a fun and somewhat inexpensive joy ride. You do not have to spend lots of money staying at a fancy hotel or eating at an upscale restaurant up in the mountains when you could just go to a simple coffee house and order a late. Mountain scenery is still beautiful when paying less, but you will just have to try it to know for sure.