If you want to escape from the crowds and casinos of South Lake Tahoe for half a day, head down through Woodfords to Highway 88 and make your way to the small town of Markleeville on Highway 89 just east of the Carson Pass. The drive will take you about an hour, but it takes you through some beautiful pine and aspen forests, over the Carson River and past some spectacular mountain peaks. Markleeville is home to only about 200 people, but it has become a popular stop for visitors coming to the Tahoe area from southern California. The local hotel and bar is also a favorite stop for local and regional bikers.
A restaurant in downtown Markleeville — Photo courtesy of Christina Nellemann
Another reason to visit this little retreat in the mountains is for Grover Hot Springs. This small, nondescript hot spring resort is tucked right at the base of some craggy granite peaks and is open all year long, no matter what the weather. It contains a small hot pool and a colder swimming pool which is great for families in the summer. Grover Hot Springs has a changing room and showers and plenty of parking. The hot pool has an excellent view of the mountains (especially in the winter), but don't be concerned with the green tinge of the pool. The green color is caused by the minerals and algae from the underground hot springs. The cost for the pool is $8 per person, and it's best to bring cash.
Grover Hot Springs Resort — Photo courtesy of Christina Nellemann
Grover Hot Springs also has a campground with over 70 sites, hot showers, bathrooms, fire pits and bear boxes. Both RV and tent sites are available as well as wonderful views of the valley and mountains. There are several nature walks from the campground, including a hike to a local waterfall, and the hot springs are only a half-mile walk from the campground.
The view from Grover Hot Springs. The resort is in the lower left. — Photo courtesy of Christina Nellemann
If you want to spend a little more time in the tiny town, visit the Creekside Lodge for lunch and drinks (or stay for the night). If you are just here for lunch, try the Wolf Creek Restaurant & Bar where you can soak up the local western atmosphere while having some excellent pancakes, sandwiches and soup or apple pie. They also have live music at night. Markleeville also has a small art gallery, a few restaurants and some great fishing in the local creeks and hiking in the foothills. During the winter, this is a prime location for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
The Wolf Creek Restaurant and Cutthroat Saloon — Photo courtesy of Christina Nellemann