NorCal Roadtrips

An Explorer's Guide to Northern California

 Highway 88- Carson Pass- Jackson to Silver Lake and Environs


Silver Lake

Silver Lake

Hwy. 88 begins at Stockton and winds northeast thru Jackson near Sutter Creek to the Kirkwood Ski area south of Lake Tahoe and beyond to Silver Lake, Blue Lakes, the West Fork of the Carson River and more. As it ascends it traverses the Eldorado National Forest to the north and the Stanislaus National Forest to the south and is known as the Carson Pass National Scenic Byway. It eventually intersects Route 395 at Genoa, NV on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Range. For fans of small alpine lakes and pretty good fishing it’s a fine jaunt. Opportunities for camping, swimming, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and a plethora of outdoor activities abound. A highly recommended northern California road trip, particularly for the fresh-water fishing enthusiast. In winter, there is skiing at Kirkwood Ski area, with additional opportunities for the cross-country ski or snowmobile fan. If Silver Lake is your destination, and it should be, South Lake Tahoe is only 40 minutes away should civilization beckon. Highway 88 closes in winter at Carson Pass. This is a heavy snow area, so winter travelers beware and others need to wait longer for roads and campgrounds to open.

In summer, continue over the pass to the junction with Hwy. 89 and turn on it to Markleeville. Pay a visit to Grover Hot Springs State Park, something of an undiscovered gem for many. Soak in the 102 degree Fahrenheit pool (very comfortable) and camp in one of the better state park campgrounds. If you want a change of scenery on the way home, continue past Markleeville on the combined Hwy. 89/ Hwy. 4 and return over Ebbetts Pass. This drive is a must. Its a winding road through some very pretty country. Anglers will salivate over the easy access to the east fork of the Carson River, a much more robust river here than the portions of the west fork one passes on Hwy. 88.


Itinerary Things To Do Campgrounds Photo Gallery