Exploring the Sierra Nevadas

If you’re traveling to California, you simply must spend some time exploring the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The experience can be life changing. At nearby Yosemite National Park, you can expect to fight crowds and rub elbows with the hundreds of folks people have come to see the park. In the Sierra Nevadas, however, you can still see the true, unspoiled beauty of California.

The Sierra Nevadas are home to crystal lakes, waterfalls and wildflowers, and towering giant sequoias. Although the wilderness can be austere, the nearby mountain towns offer outstanding hospitality in peaceful surroundings for weary California travelers.


If you feel like exploring, you can travel from Visalia to Three Rivers, which was founded by a utopian group of artists in the 1880s. While the colony is long gone, the town’s distinctive artwork and its 100-year-old post office are still there. It’s a great place to spend the day exploring the beauty of the historic Sierra Nevadas.

Or, if you’re up for camping, your best bet is a AAA camping guide. Look for the Quartz mountain trail head, where you can park for a minimal fee. Pack your bags for serious hiking and camping, and head for Chain Lakes. This is a steep, 7 to 10 hour hike, best attempted only by experienced hikers. Once there, however, you’ll forget about the climb. The only secret that folks in the know will share about this wonderful destination is the natural rock water slide that connects three lakes. They insist that the rest is so beautiful; you have to experience it in person. Best of all, wildlife is abundant here, but tourists aren’t. This is truly a piece of wild, unspoiled beauty that can belong to you and only you – even if only for a day or two.

Of course, if wild, unspoiled beauty pales in your mind to crazy, spoiled nightlife, then head toward Lake Tahoe, nestled in the California Sierra Nevadas near the state border of Nevada. Lake Tahoe is famous for its skiing, and whether you prefer downhill or cross country, you’ll find plenty of Olympic caliber trails to be enjoyed here. When you’re done on the trails, head into town for food and drinks and live it up in Lake Tahoe’s nightlife.

In addition, North Lake Tahoe is home to the Thunderbird Lodge, the Tudor revival summer estate of Georgie Whittell, the real estate magnate from San Francisco. Or, to see some turn of the century architecture, visit the Watson Cabin, built in 1908. Fanny Bridge is another great place to count the fannies of folks looking over the bridge to see the lovely fish – including German browns, Rainbow trout and wild Mackinaw – that spill into Lake Tahoe from the Tahoe City Dam.

Next up, South Lake Tahoe – or Blue Lake Tahoe as it’s sometimes called – is also home to many wonderful hotels and attractions. Here, you can dine and dance on a paddle-wheeler boat or zoom across the lake in a high-speed boat.

So whether you want quiet wilderness or the high energy of a night club, you can find it all in the Sierra Nevadas – a great California vacation destination for singles and families alike.