Around 150 years before techies from all over the world rushed to California in search of Silicon gold, rough-and-ready “forty-niners” invaded the GOLD COUNTRY of the Sierra Nevada, about 150 miles east of San Francisco, in search of the real thing. The area ranges from the foothills near Yosemite to the deep gorge of the Yuba River two hundred miles north, with Sacramento as its largest city. Many of the mining camps that sprang up around the Gold Country vanished as quickly as they appeared but about half still survive. Some are bustling resorts, standing on the banks of whitewater rivers in the midst of thick pine forests; others are just eerie ghost towns, all but abandoned on the grassy rolling hills. Most of the mountainous forests along the Sierra crest are preserved as near-pristine wilderness, with excellent hiking and camping. There’s also great skiing in winter, around the mountainous rim of Lake Tahoe on the border between California and Nevada.Read More
Lake Tahoe skiing
Lake Tahoe skiing
Lake Tahoe rivals the Rocky Mountains in offering some of the best downhill skiing and snowboarding in North America. Although skiing is not cheap – lift passes can cost well over $60 per day and ski/snowboard rental $30–35 – most resorts offer decent-value pass/rental/lesson packages or multi-day discounts, especially if booked in advance online. Cross-country skiing is also popular, with rentals around $20 and trail passes in the region of $15–30.
reachable by shuttle from Southshore, two miles from the casinos, or via the gondola on Hwy-50, next to the state line (t 775/586-7000 or t 1-800/243-2836, w www.skiheavenly.com). Prime location and sheer scale (85 runs and 29 lifts) make this one of the lake’s most frequented resorts, and it also offers the highest vertical skiing served by a lift in the area.
Kirkwood Ski Resort
35 miles south of South Lake Tahoe on Hwy-88 (t 209/258-6000, w www.kirkwood.com). A bit out of the way if you’re in Tahoe but worth the trip as a destination in itself for its recreational possibilities, including excellent hiking and biking trails.
Squaw Valley USA
Squaw Valley Road, halfway between Truckee and Tahoe City (t 530/583-6955 or t 1-888/766-9321, w www.squaw.com). Thirty-three lifts service over four thousand acres of unbeatable terrain at the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Non-skiers can take the cable lift and use the ice-skating/swimming pool complex for the day.
in Soda Springs, ten miles west of Truckee (t 530/426-3871 or t 1-800/666-3871, w www.royalgorge.com). The largest and best of Tahoe’s cross-country resorts has 204 miles of groomed trails.
in Nevada at the intersection of Hwy-50 and Hwy-28 (t 775/749-5349, w www.spoonerlake.com). The closest cross-country resort to South Lake Tahoe has lake views and 63 miles of groomed trails.