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Avoid the Lake Tahoe crowds (but indulge in the same quality alpine air and snowy adventures) by trekking to the High Sierra town of Truckee. This Wild West destination was given a new lease on tourism when the 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympics arrived. This was likely a relief to locals whose false-front buildings huddled in the shadow of majestic mountains were previously known as the site of the Donner Party (the 19th century travelers who followed an incorrect map of a shortcut to riches, became trapped in a harsh Sierra winter, then resorted to cannibalism in order to survive). Today you'll find a historic western downtown perched a ...

Avoid the Lake Tahoe crowds (but indulge in the same quality alpine air and snowy adventures) by trekking to the High Sierra town of Truckee. This Wild West destination was given a new lease on tourism when the 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympics arrived. This was likely a relief to locals whose false-front buildings huddled in the shadow of majestic mountains were previously known as the site of the Donner Party (the 19th century travelers who followed an incorrect map of a shortcut to riches, became trapped in a harsh Sierra winter, then resorted to cannibalism in order to survive). Today you'll find a historic western downtown perched a mile into the sky, complete with boutique hotels, lively eateries and shops. Looming another couple thousand feet above town, world class ski and snowboard country beckons winter sports enthusiasts to explore the most family friendly slopes in the state. Everything you'd expect in a top ski resort can be enjoyed in Truckee, including ice skating rinks, sledding tracks, cross country ski routes, snowmobiling, spas and S'mores parties. Secret trivia fact: Truckee residents enjoy more sunny days per year than any other snowy locale.

Michele Bigley
About the Expert

Michele Bigley is the author of Northern California: An Explorer's Guide and Great Destinations Kauai from Countryman Press.

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Michele Bigley for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Winter — though it has been known to snow in every month of the year.