Idyllwild, California

Idyllwild, California

Idyllwild is a mile-high alpine village. It is only two hours by car from the Southland=s major cities. Yet, here in the upper reaches of a small mountain range, it is nestled in the cooling shade of a luxuriant and expansive pine forest. Gigantic granite pillars visible from downtown are a highlight of the surrounding woodlands. A few miles to the east, the skyline is crowned by San Jacinto Peak, 10,804 feet above sea level. Two miles almost straight down from the summit (as the crow flies), Palm Springs sprawls across the sandy floor of one of America's hottest deserts.

Clear pine-scented air and a four-season climate started luring flatlanders up the mountain more than a century ago. Hordes now trek here on weekends to escape heat and smog and to unwind in the high country. The village also serves as a gateway to the wilderness portion of this “sky island” which recently became the San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. Hundreds of miles of well-marked trails for hikers and backpackers provide scenic access to a bonanza of granite outcroppings that are a renowned destination for rock climbers.

The tiny heart of town sports a growing number of shops that feature locally produced arts and crafts and collectibles. Most eateries and lodgings are prosaic and family-oriented, as they have been for many years. However, several stylish bed-and-breakfasts and inns now cater to adults seeking rest and relaxation in a high-country hideaway. After dark, there still isn’t much to disturb the peace and quiet and starry nights that have attracted visitors since the beginning.