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Idyllwild-Pine Cove, California


Idyllwild-Pine Cove, California

Idyllwild-Pine Cove-Fern Valley
census-designated place
Idyllwild-Pine Cove Census Designated Place[1]
Location in Riverside County and the state of California
Location in Riverside County and the state of California
Idyllwild-Pine Cove-Fern Valley is located in USA
Idyllwild-Pine Cove-Fern Valley
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  California
County Riverside
 • Total 13.733 sq mi (35.568 km2)
 • Land 13.723 sq mi (35.542 km2)
 • Water 0.010 sq mi (0.026 km2)  0.07%
Elevation[1] 5,413 ft (1,650 m)
Population (April 1, 2010)
 • Total 3,874
 • Density 280/sq mi (110/km2)
Time zone Pacific (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP code 92549
Area code 951
FIPS code 06-36203
GNIS feature ID 2408414

Idyllwild, Pine Cove, and Fern Valley are three adjacent unincorporated municipalities, of which Idyllwild is the largest, located in the San Jacinto Mountains in Riverside County, California, United States. The Idyllwild community also generally includes the hamlets of Mountain Center and Garner Valley, though individual residents embrace this association to varying degrees. "Mile-high Idyllwild" is a popular southern California mountain resort about one mile (1.6 km) in altitude. Idyllwild is flanked by two large rocks, Tahquitz Peak (with nearby Lily Rock) and Suicide Rock, which are famous in Southern California rock climbing circles. One of Idyllwild's attractions is that it offers all four seasons, yet in winter is only an hour's drive down to the desert on the Pines to Palms Scenic Byway. It currently offers no skiing; thus "the hill" has been minimally developed over the years and remains a center for hiking, mountain and rock climbing, and horseback riding. There are numerous hiking trails for visitors to enjoy, with the Devils Slide Trail being one of the most popular as it also branches off with trails that lead to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway; the trail has previously been called "the backdoor to Idyllwild."

Idyllwild has earned the designation as one of the 100 Best Small Art Towns in America[3] Idyllwild was also voted L.A.'s Best Mountain Getaway.[4] The arts thrive in Idyllwild in the form of art, music, and theatre.

In order to provide statistical information for Idyllwild, Pine Cove, and Fern Valley, the United States Census Bureau has defined Idyllwild-Pine Cove as a single census-designated place (CDP). The statistical information applies to the entire CDP, although local views of the community vary somewhat from the definition of the CDP. The population of the CDP was 3,874 at the 2010 census, up from 3,504 as of the 2000 census.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
  • Flora and Fauna 3
  • Climate 4
  • Demographics 5
  • Government 6
  • Education 7
  • Parks and recreation 8
  • The Arts 9
  • Notable people 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


Idyllwild was once the summer home for bands of Cahuilla Indians, who migrated to the area to escape the heat of lower elevation deserts. The Cahuilla's grinding slabs can still be seen in Idyllwild.

A Cahuilla legend recounts how tribesmen chanted over the body of their fallen chieftain Tahquitz, or Takwish, who had been possessed by an evil spirit and killed his sweetheart. Suddenly his body began to glow like fire, and he rose and settled on Idyllwild's Tahquitz Rock. According to the legend, Tahquitz is trapped beneath the rock with a rattlesnake and a condor for company, and when the mountain shakes and trembles, it is not an earthquake, but Tahquitz up to his evil tricks on Lily Rock.

Idyllwild was known originally as Strawberry Valley because of the wild toll road had been built from Hemet, which opened Idyllwild to settlement, logging, and tourism. A post office was established in 1893; at this time, the town was called Rayneta after the Hannahs' son Raymond.

In 1901, the Idyllwild Sanatorium was built to treat tuberculosis patients. The sanatorium was soon remodeled as a resort called "Idyllwild Among the Pines," and, later, "Idyllwild." In 1901, the town's official named was changed to Idyllwild.

The Tribe of Tahquitz Boy Scout honor society was created in Idyllwild in 1925.

With the advent of the automobile, Idyllwild became a weekend tourist attraction for people in Southern California. For many years, the town presented itself as an alpine village, and hotels and businesses had German or German-sounding names, but this practice ended during World War II.

From the 1930s to 1950s, Idyllwild was a center for the production of "knotty pine furniture", the fine log furniture made in the Arts and Crafts style. Under the direction of Charles "Selden" Belden, the furniture was produced by the Idyllwild Pinecraft Furniture Company and, later, C. Selden Belden Idyllwild Pinecraft. The furniture is now "collectible" and can be found in many Idyllwild houses and cabins.

In the 1950s, the Yosemite Decimal System of grading routes was developed at Tahquitz by members of the Rock Climbing Section of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club.[5]

In the late 1960s and 1970s, there was an influx of hippies in Idyllwild, which changed the nature of the town and alarmed many longtime residents. Timothy Leary lived on a ranch in nearby Garner Valley, with the ranch serving as the headquarters of The Brotherhood of Eternal Love.[6] Currently the ranch encampment in Garner Valley is operated by Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times as a year-round retreat for children with cancer and their families.[7]

From 1974 to 1979, Idyllwild hosted the Idyllwild Bluegrass Invitational, then the only bluegrass music festival in Southern California (it was inspired by the Julian Banjo-Fiddle Contest, which still goes on today on the third weekend in September). Idyllwild also hosted the Bear Flag Festival in the 1950s through the 1970s, a festival to honor California's Bear Flag and to mark the passing of the grizzly bear from California, the last of which, according to local legend, was killed at Hurkey Creek in Garner Valley.

Most high school-age students in Idyllwild attend school in Hemet, which requires them to travel by school bus some 35 miles (56 km) in distance and 3,000 feet (910 m) in altitude to and from school. Since the 1950s, some Idyllwild parents have agitated for a high school in the town, and there have been many attempts at establishing high schools, but most of the schools proved short-lived. Startup schools that failed included Hi-Lo, or LIFE (Living in Free Education, a public school located at what is now the Idyllwild Arts Academy, operated by Mary Glavin in 1973-76),[8][9] New Schole Ranch (a private school in Mountain Center), and Freedom Schools, Inc. (a private school operated in Mountain Center by Mary Ellen DuBay). Desert Sun School (later called the Elliott-Pope School), a private boarding school that accepted boarders and day students, closed in December 1990, due to financial mischief, after operating for 65 years in Idyllwild.

Idyllwild and the nearby areas of Garner Valley and Lake Hemet have been used for filming since the silent film era. Although most of Cecil B. DeMille's The Squaw Man (1914) was filmed in Los Angeles and vicinity, footage of cattle on the open range were shot at the "H.J." Ranch at Keen Camp, midway between Idyllwild and Garner Valley.[10] A number of Westerns have been filmed at the Garner Ranch in Garner Valley: Guns and Guitars (1936), Heading for the Rio Grande (1936), Springtime in the Rockies (1937), Brothers in the Saddle (1949), Riders of the Range (1949), and Storm over Wyoming (1950). The Garner Ranch also stood in for the Ponderosa in episodes of the TV show Bonanza. In 1961 and 1962, the Elvis Presley musical Kid Galahad was filmed in Idyllwild and vicinity. The 1980s television series Air Wolf and various car commercials have also been filmed in the area. The biker funeral procession from the 1966 film The Wild Angels was filmed in Idyllwild and included the Silver Pines Lodge, which was named Hillbilly Lodge at the time of the filming.


The Idyllwild-Pine Cove-Fern Valley area is located in Southern California's San Jacinto Mountains, which contain 10,834-foot (3,302 m) high Mount San Gorgonio.

Idyllwild lies mostly within a high mountain valley bisected by a small year-round stream, Strawberry Creek.

Pine Cove occupies a ridgetop location nearly 1,000 feet (300 m) higher than Idyllwild.

Normal travel distances and times to the area are approximately 120 miles (two hours) from Los Angeles and San Diego, California.

Flora and Fauna

Ancient ponderosa pine is the major flora of the area.


According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Idyllwild-Pine Cove has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csa" on climate maps.[12]


The 2010 United States Census[13] reported that Idyllwild-Pine Cove had a population of 3,874. The population density was 282.1 people per square mile (108.9/km²). The racial makeup of Idyllwild-Pine Cove was 3,434 (89%) White, 32 (1%) African American, 30 (1%) Native American, 135 (4%) Asian, 6 (<1%) Pacific Islander, 88 (2%) from other races, and 149 (4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 479 persons (12%).

The Census reported that 3,527 people (91% of the population) lived in households, 347 (9%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 0 (0%) were institutionalized.

There were 1,682 households, out of which 314 (19%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 793 (47%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 111 (7%) had a female householder with no husband present, 75 (5%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 94 (6%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 44 (3%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 542 households (32%) were made up of individuals and 225 (13%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.10. There were 979 families (58% of all households); the average family size was 2.62.

The population was spread out with 741 people (19%) under the age of 18, 285 people (7%) aged 18 to 24, 652 people (17%) aged 25 to 44, 1,423 people (34%) aged 45 to 64, and 773 people (20%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 49.8 years. For every 100 females there were 99.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.4 males.

There were 4,116 housing units at an average density of 299.7 per square mile (115.7/km²), of which 1,174 (70%) were owner-occupied, and 508 (30%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 9%; the rental vacancy rate was 18%. 2,423 people (63% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 1,104 people (29%) lived in rental housing units.


In the California State Legislature, Idyllwild-Pine Cove is in the 28th Senate District, represented by Republican Jeff Stone, and in the 71st Assembly District, represented by Republican Brian Jones.[14]

In the United States House of Representatives, Idyllwild-Pine Cove is in California's 36th congressional district, represented by Democrat Raul Ruiz.[15]


Parks and recreation

The Riverside County Regional Park and Open-Space District operates the Idyllwild Park and Idyllwild Nature Center.[16]

The Arts

For over 60 years the community has been the home of the Idyllwild Arts Foundation, which began in 1950 as a summer arts program for adults, families and children, founded by Bea and Max Krone. Administered by the University of Southern California from 1964 through 1985, the program was known as ISOMATA - Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts.

In 1985, the Foundation purchased ISOMATA from USC, and followed by the founding of the private Idyllwild Arts Foundation (IAF) in 1986. IAF is a private, fully accredited high school for boarding and day students. The college-preparatory curriculum includes training in music, theatre, dance, visual art, creative writing, moving pictures and multi-disciplinary InterArts and fashion design program.

Within the community, there are many art galleries and weekly art events, most featuring local practicing artists.

A strong music and local theatre element exists. Various small venues feature everything from classical music to current popular music and jazz.

In January 2010, Idyllwild hosted the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema, with over 40 official selections from around the world. The annual festival reached break-even in 2012 (showing 67 films) and continues to grow. For 2013 it was renamed the Idyllwild CinemaFest

In 2013, Stratford Players made Idyllwild its new home and now perform theatre year round. Typically in the fall, the troupe presents Will In The Woods, a selection of Shakespeare's scenes and soliloquies. The event is held outdoors in the afternoon, in keeping with Elizabethan custom. During the remainder of the year, Stratford Players present both staged readings and full productions of non-Shakespearean plays that vary from vintage classics to the most recent Tony award winners.[17] [18] [19]

Notable people

Idyllwild is home to many artists and musicians, notably drummer David Atwood of the 1970s rock group America, Bobby Womack, and Richard Halligan, a founding member of Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Film actors who have owned or still have homes in Idyllwild and the surrounding area include Charles Laughton, Marjorie Main, Sharon Lawrence, Barbara Hershey, Conor O'Farrell, Doris Day, Michael J. Fox, Sean Connery, Dolly Parton, Herb Jeffries, Craig Stevens and Horace Hahn, who had a supporting role in the Cecil B. DeMille film This Day and Age (1933). American Idol season 10 contestant and musical artist Casey Abrams is also from Idyllwild.


  1. ^ a b "Idyllwild-Pine Cove Census Designated Place".  
  2. ^ "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files – Places – California".  
  3. ^ Book by John Villani
  4. ^ L.A. Weekly
  5. ^ Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, 6th Edition, The Mountaineers, Seattle, Washington, ISBN 0-89886-426-7. P. 550.
  6. ^ Hollingshead, Michael (1974) The Man Who Turned On the World. Abelard-Schuman. Chapter 9.
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ Pinkerman, John (May 8, 1974) "Alternative Education - Unique School Success." Desert Sun; California Digital Newspaper Collection. (Retrieved 10-29-2015.)
  9. ^ Squier, Gary (October 5, 2006) "Hi-Lo students reunite and remember local school." Town Crier. (Retrieved 10-29-2015.)
  10. ^ Birchard, Robert S. (2004), Cecil B. DeMille's Hollywood, Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky, p. 8-9, ISBN 0-8131-2324-0
  11. ^ "San Jacinto". NGS data sheet.  
  12. ^ Climate Summary for Idyllwild-Pine Cove, California
  13. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Idyllwild-Pine Cove CDP". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Statewide Database".  
  15. ^ "California's 36th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. 
  16. ^ Lech, Steve (2011). More Than a Place To Pitch a Rent: The Stories Behind Riverside County's Regional Parks. Riverside, CA: Steve Lech. p. 150.  
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^

External links

  • Idyllwild travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • Historic Resources Survey: Idyllwild Commercial Corridor
  • Idyllwild at DMOZ
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