California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains extend some 600 miles from Kern River’s South Fork to Lake Tahoe, encompassing both Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks as well as Mount Whitney. Bristling with pine, fir, and spruce trees, the mountains explode in wildflowers during springtime and acquire a sleek, snowy coat during wintertime that attracts skiers from around the world. With diverse and geographically scattered accommodations choices, travelers can select the right lodging choice by region.
Lake Tahoe straddles the California-Nevada border, extending 22 miles in length and about 12 miles wide to create a vast blue bowl cradled by the Sierras. In wintertime, skiers zip along world-class slopes, cross-country ski or snuggle by the fire. Summer’s warm weather draws hikers, cyclists, boaters and campers; the lake’s South Shore casinos attract visitors year-round. Here, Sierra Nevada mountain accommodations can include glitzy resorts, modest, family-run bed-and-breakfasts, lakeside hotels and private beach cabins. The North Shore tends to be quieter, more expensive and family-friendly; Lake Tahoe’s South Shore features busy beaches, casino entertainment and some party-friendly bars and restaurants. Book accommodations well ahead during peak winter and summer seasons; holidays including New Year's and Fourth of July tend to be particularly busy in Lake Tahoe.
Yosemite’s Sierra mountains host varied wildlife and vegetation including chaparral, sugar pine, white fir and giant sequoia trees. Lucky visitors spot black near, spotted owl, gray fox, alligator lizard and bats. Bighorn sheep populate the highest altitudes. Visitors can have a harder time finding accommodation within this region of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains; Yosemite’s national park status means fewer accommodation options to protect the region’s undeveloped feel. Competition for private cabins can be particularly stiff, but visitors still choose from upscale resorts, cozy bed-and-breakfasts and historic lodges.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
Together, the Sierra’s Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks house the world’s five largest living sequoia trees. Outdoor enthusiasts hike, fish, horseback ride and explore caves within the parks during the warmer months, while wintertime activities include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and skiing. The region’s lodges, hotels and inns welcome guests year-round, but visitors hoping to score campsites at one of the park’s rural campgrounds must wait for the warmer months between June and September. Accommodation isn’t as difficult to secure compared with Yosemite National Park or Lake Tahoe during high season, but it’s still smart to book lodging well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Mount Whitney holds the title of the Sierra Nevada mountains’ highest peak; in fact, it’s the highest peak in the contiguous United States and the Sierra’s most frequently climbed peak. The summit’s wide network of trails and routes appeal to travelers, and skiers can traverse the mountain during wintertime. Most visitors to Mount Whitney stay in nearby Sequoia National Park or Kings Canyon National Park, according to the U.S. National Park Service, which manages several accommodation options in the area.
- sierra nevada from the airplane image by Ary from Fotolia.com