English (UK)
Jaice M. Rivas

Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway

This is an idyllic drive for those who crave tight switchbacks, tiny hamlets and multiple alpine vistas.

Start:Arnold
End:Grover Hot Springs State Park
2 - 3Days,6Stops,74Miles
Arnold
Chris Axe/Getty Images
Hell’s Kitchen Vista Viewpoint
Rachid Dahnoun
Lake Alpine Lodge
Markleeville
Rachid Dahnoun
Stonefly
Brett Stevens
Grover Hot Springs State Park
Stop 1

Arnold

1445 Blagen Rd, Arnold

The cosy mountain town of Arnold lies right on the snow line, which means that there’s plenty of the white stuff in winter but not so much that it’s hard to get around. Visitors can snowshoe or cross-country ski (or mountain bike or hike in summer) on the Arnold Rim Trail, a 17-mile path that offers birds-eye views from craggy Cougar Rock and a peek at the San Antonio Falls. (The start of the trail is located at the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum, an interesting place to visit for history fans.) Nearby is Calaveras Big Trees State Park, where ancient trees have awed visitors since 1852. Wander among giant sequoias on the 1.5-mile North Grove Loop and admire the gnarled Old Bachelor tree and the Siamese Twins (two sequoias that are joined together). In the more remote South Grove, a longer trail follows Big Trees Creek to gargantuan trees like the 2,000-year-old Louis Agassiz Tree, the park’s largest specimen at 250 feet/76 metres high and 25 feet/7.6 metres across.

Plan your visit

    Stop 2

    Hell’s Kitchen Vista Viewpoint

    14747 CA-4, Arnold

    Flanked by granite outcrops and thick forests, Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway (State Highway 4) climbs a ridge 1,000 feet/300 metres above the Stanislaus River Canyon, offering sweeping views at every turn. Nineteen miles west of Arnold, stop at Hell’s Kitchen Vista and walk a winding path through glacial erratics to Balancing Rock, where climbers strut their stuff. This distinctive chunk of granite served as an important landmark for 19th-century travellers on the Emigrant Trail. Enjoy the views of glacially carved rock, craggy volcanic peaks and meadows crossed by rivers, and watch for a vibrant flower tapestry in July—mule’s ears, scarlet gilia, Indian paintbrush and blue flax all show their colours then.

    Plan your visit

      SPOTLIGHT

      Lake Alpine Lodge

      4000 CA-4, Arnold

      Extend your playtime by renting a cabin at Lake Alpine Resort. The rustic lodge boasts a massive stone fireplace, log-lined bar and lake-view deck, the perfect spot for a breakfast of trout and eggs.

      Stop 4

      Markleeville

      3 Webster St, Markleeville

      Turn back time with a walk through tiny Markleeville, the county seat of Alpine County, an hour’s drive from Lake Tahoe. Founded in 1861 during the Nevada silver rush, the town once boasted a population of nearly 3,000 people but today there’s only a few hundred. Many original 19th-century buildings still stand, including the Markleeville General Store, where locals and visitors congregate on the front porch. For epicurean dining, head to Stonefly, an Italian café that serves wood-fired pizzas or get your caffeine fix at Alps Haus Café. Visit the Alpine County Museum to see the Old Webster School, a one-room schoolhouse built in 1882. Tour the mid-1800s jail, constructed with seemingly impenetrable iron doors and vertical log walls. Farming, mining and logging tools are on display, plus Washoe Indian baskets and artefacts.

      Plan your visit

        Stop 6

        Grover Hot Springs State Park

        3415 Hot Springs Rd, Markleeville

        About an hour’s drive south-east of Lake Tahoe, just west of the quiet mountain town of Markleeville, mineral springs bubble up from the earth at Grover Hot Springs State Park. Since the 1850s, people have flocked to 'take the cure' in these restorative waters, which are fed from six different springs containing low amounts of sulphur. That means you won't notice the strong rotten egg smell of many hot spring pools. The water emerges from underground at a scalding 64 °C, but it’s cooled down before it’s piped into the park’s two concrete pools—one for soaking at a safe 39 °C, the other a pleasant temperature for swimming and splashing.

        The pools are open most of the year (hours may vary during the off-season/winter period, September to May, so call ahead; +1 530 694 2249). The state park also has a 76 pitch campsite and hiking trails, and some easy scrambles for the children (don’t miss the walk to the waterfall along Hot Springs Creek), as well as longer treks into surrounding alpine regions.

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        Road Trip Snapshot

        Find out more about the amazing locations featured in this road trip. Ready to plan your trip? Print the itinerary or map your adventure to get started.

        Stop 2Hell’s Kitchen Vista Viewpoint
        14747 CA-4, Arnold
          SPOTLIGHTLake Alpine Lodge
          4000 CA-4, Arnold
            Stop 4Markleeville
            3 Webster St, Markleeville
              Stop 6Grover Hot Springs State Park
              3415 Hot Springs Rd, Markleeville

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