Travel from the high country of Lake Tahoe to the low desert of Death Valley on a family-fun drive to explore California’s landscapes.
Trip length: 4 Days
TRUCKEE (7mi/11km; 11min). Cast your troubles away while fly-fishing for rainbow trout at Northstar California’s Sawmill Lake . Stop for more info at the Truckee California Welcome Center, then explore the sparkling night sky on a Tahoe Star Gazing Tour . INFO North Lake Tahoe Visitors and Convention Bureau ; 800/462-5196
SQUAW VALLEY (18mi/28km; 32min). Ride the aerial tram to High Camp (elev. 8,200 feet/2,499 meters) and its miles of hiking trails. Climb to the summit of 8,900-foot/2,713-meter Squaw Peak on a 4.4-mile/7-km roundtrip trek or discover Sierra ecology and history on free guided hikes . Head back downhill and let the family choose creative mini-cakes made with organic ingredients at Batch Cupcakery . INFO North Lake Tahoe Visitors and Convention Bureau ; 800/462-5196
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (12mi/20km; 23min). Behold an incomparable panorama of Lake Tahoe as you glide up to 9,136 feet/2,743 meters aboard the Heavenly Gondola . Up top, let the kids romp on forest trails and granite boulders, then savor artisan pizzas at the resort’s dramatic Tamarack Lodge. INFO Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority ; 800/288-2463
MARKLEEVILLE (35mi/57km; 55min). Hike to a waterfall on the Hot Springs Trail in Grover Hot Springs State Park , then soak and splash in the park’s thermally heated, mineral-rich swimming pools. Let the kids imagine what it would be like to have a one-room school at intriguing Alpine County Historical Complex and Museum . Dig into baby back ribs in the vintage dining room at Wolf Creek Restaurant . INFO Alpine County Chamber of Commerce ; 530/694-2475
BRIDGEPORT (32mi/51km; 45min). Travel back to California’s rough-and-ready mining days at Bodie State Historic Park , one of best-preserved ghost towns in America. Stroll the streets of teetering buildings and look into homes still filled with their long-departed owners’ furnishings. INFO Mono County Tourism & Film Commission ; 800/845-7922
MAMMOTH LAKES (61mi/98km; 1hr21min). Mountain bike on more than 80 miles of single-track trails at Mammoth Mountain Bike Park . Power your rides with the awesome French toast and blueberry pancakes at The Stove (644 Old Mammoth Rd.; 760/934-2821), a long-time local favorite. INFO Mammoth Lakes Tourism ; 888/466-2666