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Explore the High Sierra on Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway

Explore the High Sierra on Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway
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Take Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway to experience glacially carved canyons, giant sequoias, hot springs, and snow-capped ridges.

Trip Time: 2 days

The Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway is one of the most scenic drives across California's Sierra Nevada Mountains. Anchored at either end by two State Parks – Calaveras Big Trees and Grover Hot Springs – and passing through the Stanislaus and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests, visitors can witness and explore this rugged landscape that was home to the native peoples of the area and to pioneer emigrants alike. Spring and fall are the best times for this drive, as the pass is closed in winter, and summer is the peak tourist season.

Day One
Start at 6,000-acre Calaveras Big Trees State Park outside of Arnold, home to two magnificent groves of Giant Sequoia trees. The park is open year-round with picnic areas, miles of hiking trails, visitor center, over 120 campsites and summer interpretive programs. You can also take a guided river trip down the North Fork Stanislaus River (try O.A.R.S. or All Outdoors ). Stop for lunch in the historic town of Dorrington at the Lube Room Saloon for the best fish and chips in the area, but be warned - the historic Dorrington Hotel is thought to be haunted.

Continue to Bear Valley Village, taking in breathtaking landscapes of Dardenelle Range. A drive to the end of the restort brings you to the spectacular Mokelumne Peak and Canyon. You can spend the night at Bear Valley Mountain Resort , or stop at the Bear Valley General Store to grab supplies and continue to a nearby campground. Also on the byway, Lake Alpine is a a favorite summer spot for kayakers and fishermen. A trail around the lake provides an inspirational hiking experience. Grab dinner at the historic Lake Alpine Resort , then continue east along Highway 4 to Cape Horn Vista , which provides a 270-degree view of the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness Area, featuring the signature "sleeping lion" and "elephant" of the Dardenelle Range. Spend the night in a campground, RV park or cabin, or try one of Lake Alpine's rustic "fishermen's cottages."

Day Two
Approximately 4 miles past Cape Horn, you'll come across two reflective shallow alpine lakes - Mosquito Lakes . Bring your camera and have a picnic. This is also a popular fishing site - you can obtain one-day fishing licenses at most resorts and stores along the byway. A short distance farther is Pacific Valley , where you can view the incredible Lookout and Bull Run peaks. The terrain opens onto scenic Hermit Valley , where the Mokelumne River becomes the centerpiece of an open meadow teaming with wildlife and wildflowers. From here, you can hike Deer Creek Trail through the Mokelumne Wilderness and view beaver ponds on Grouse Creek, or continue to the impressive views of Silver Creek Canyon .

History lovers should check out the remnents of an old jail in the town of Silver Mountain City on the way to Carson River Resort . Then, explore the historic town of Markleeville including the Wolf Creek Restaurant and Bar and the Old General Store. To finish the day, spend some time soaking in the hot mineral pools of Grover Hot Springs State Park , open year round. Continue 10 miles past Markleeville to Sorensen’s Resort for a classic dinner of beef stew.

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