NorCal Roadtrips

An Explorer's Guide to Northern California

Highway 88 Itinerary

Silver Lake

Silver Lake

Outside of Stockton on the way northeast the road passes a trio of warm water reservoirs: Camanche, Pardee and Lake Amador. New Hogan Reservoir sits a bit south off Hwy. 26. Past Jackson, in Pine Grove, it passes Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park, a modest facility protecting some ancient native American artifacts. As you continue to climb, at about 5,800 feet, you will pass Bear River & Lower Bear River Reservoirs. To the south, off Hwy. 9, lies Salt Springs Reservoir, at about 3,900 feet. But the best is yet to come.

Silver Lake is probably the primary destination, with two nice campgrounds in close proximity to each other and the lake. Silver Lake and Silver Lake West Campgrounds are almost directly across Hwy. 88 from each other and offer similar ambience and amenities. Silver Lake campground takes reservations and Silver Lake West does not. There is a commercial facility, Kit Carson Lodge, on the lake that offers lodging, rents boats, has a small store that sells night crawlers in addition to beer and has a coin laundry. In very close proximity lie Upper and Lower Blue Lakes, Caples Lake, Woods and Red Lake and Kirkwood Lake, so the angler has many choices within a few miles of each other. Silver Lake is man-made but is generally at or near water capacity and like its neighbors is quite pretty. Most of the aforementioned lakes are stocked with rainbow trout.

South Lake Tahoe is only about 40 minutes away from Silver Lake, when civilization beckons. If you are driving a self-contained RV there is a wonderful Forest Service campground just off Hwy. 88 as you approach the turn to Hwy. 89 to head to South Lake Tahoe, with close access to the West Fork of the Carson River adjacent to a very pretty valley. But zero amenities are available. It is hard to spot, with limited signage, but watch for it on the left if you are driving north on Hwy. 88. You might spot some RV’s tucked off under the trees. For showers and other services, Emerald Bay and D.L. Bliss State Parks on Lake Tahoe are fairly close by, in addition to being destinations in their own right.

The nearby Blue Lakes are also stocked with rainbow trout, and have no commercial entities. The Lower Lake retains a higher water level and is the destination of choice. Limited camping is available. Camp at Upper Blue Lake only by default, and stay toward the southern end where the water level will be higher. Middle Creek campground lies between the two and makes for a nice option. Caples Lake is another fine choice, with good fishing, particularly near the dam, a campground and a resort. Over Carson Pass, Indian Creek Reservoir sits close to the California/Nevada border. it's been recently clear-cut so it isn't pretty but the fish don't care. At the junction with Hwy. 89 turn on that road and head to Markleeville and Grover Hot Springs State Park. The 102 degree soak is well worthwhile and the campground is one of the best in the state park system.