October 3, 2019
By Ken Brafman, Image from Mountain-News archive
A popular camping guidebook once listed Camp Switzerland and described the area as looking a lot like Switzerland — if you compare it to downtown Los Angeles. Regardless, the picturesque private camp was in business for approximately 50 years until it became a casualty of the Lake Gregory Dam seismic retrofitting. San Bernardino County purchased the 26-acre campground for about $1M in June 2015. The sale served to facilitate the preliminary stages of dam construction, which included building valves and drain pipes; to reserve the property for future use; and to mitigate the impending legal action which had been brought by the owner. Part of the terms of the sale mandated the setting aside of wildlife habitat, running mostly along Huston Creek. Set back from Lake Drive, off Eidelweiss, Camp Switzerland would be easily missed by many just driving by. Yet this facility was very popular with families for decades, with its rustic amenities, the convenient location, as well as easy access to the lake. Tom Stienstra writes in his book California Camping, “This camp is set in a wooded canyon at 4,500 feet, below the dam at little Lake Gregory. It is only a short distance to the lake and the campground is surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest. A large swimming beach is available on the south shore with a water slide and changing rooms.” He then goes on to list the many features which start with 30 sites with RV hookups, and 10 sites dedicated to tent camping as well as two stand-alone cabins. Of the nine regional parks, Lake Gregory is one of only two parks which does not offer overnight camping. The campground could become part of Lake Gregory Regional Park, offering visitors the opportunity for various types of camping experiences. Plans are underway to assess the condition of the property and to discuss how the land can best serve the public.