county in California, United States

Alpine County is located in the sparsely populated east-central part of California's Sierra Nevada mountains. With only 1,200 residents it is California's least-populous county, leading the county's tourism board to advertise "Two people per square mile and you".

Communities edit

Understand edit

There are no incorporated towns in the county. The largest population center is the county seat of Markleeville with just under 200 people residing there. Don't expect to find any of the conveniences associated with larger towns and cities anywhere in the county such as ATMs, banks, fast food chains, large grocery stores, or 24-hour convenience stores. However, there is an ATM in the Bear Valley Lodge. Much of the county was severely affected by forest fires in 2021, closing many campgrounds in the area.

Get in edit

There are no major airports in the county, with the nearest being in Reno, Nevada.

By car edit

  • State Road 88, coming from Minden, Nevada in the north, and from Stockton in the west.
  • State Road 89, coming from US 395 in the east, and Lake Tahoe to the north.

Get around edit

See edit

  • Lake Alpine, east of Bear Valley in the Sierra Nevadas, is picturesque and a good place for hiking, boating and picnicking in the summer. State Route 4 passes by the shores of Lake Alpine. If you drive northeast on State Route 4 toward Lake Alpine, be on the lookout for a large boulder shaped and painted like a whale on the north side of the road.

Do edit

  • Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway, SR-89 and SR-4, +1 209 795-4789, . Closed seasonally due to snow. This scenic byway begins at Markleeville and heads south on SR-89 to the junction with SR-4 then continues westward into Calaveras County. The section over Ebbetts Pass is closed during the winter and spring (usually November to May) due to deep snow. Check the Caltrans webpage for SR 4 [1] before attempting the trip. Free.
  • 1 Grover Hot Springs State Park, At the end Hot Springs Road (four miles west of Markleeville), +1 209 694-2248. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Normally, the park's main features are the hot springs which feed into two concrete swimming pools filled with 102°F (39°C) mineral waters, but the pools are closed indefinitely, as of May 2023, due to fire damage sustained in 2021. The park also has hiking and camping.    

Go next edit

Neighboring counties

  • 1 El Dorado County - The name of Alpine County's northwestern neighbor translates from Spanish as "the gilded/golden", an appropriate title for the county where the California Gold Rush was kicked off after a discovery at Sutter's Mill (near Coloma) in 1848. The county's attractions include mountain scenery, gold mining history, the impossibly blue waters of Lake Tahoe, backpacking opportunities in the Desolation Wilderness, and epic skiing in the South Lake Tahoe area.
  • Western Nevada - Alpine County borders the state of Nevada. Those interested in gambling are just minutes from the ubiquitous slot machines of the Silver State.
  • 2 Mono County - Located southeast of Alpine County, remote and expansive Mono County is a destination for outdoor enthusiasts. It is the eastern gateway to Yosemite National Park, home to the Old West ghost town of Bodie, and Mammoth Lakes is a favorite winter skiing getaway. The gigantic Mono Lake is perhaps the county's premier attraction, a stopover for millions of migratory birds and thousands of tourists who explore its alkaline waters and bizarre tufa formations.
  • 3 Tuolumne County - Alpine County's southern neighbor was one of California's original counties at the time of statehood, and today offers a glimpse into the region's gold mining and logging history, as well as numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation. Portions of Yosemite National Park lie in the county, and with limited parking and lodging inside of the park, the YARTS shuttle system makes the county's towns an option to consider for park visitors.
  • 4 Calaveras County - Southwest of Alpine County lies sparsely populated Calaveras County, which inspired author Mark Twain's first successful story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"; today visitors can both visit Twain's cabin and enjoy the annual Jumping Frog Jubilee in the tiny town of Angels Camp. The county is also home to several natural caves, a handful of wineries, Gold Rush history, and giant sequoia trees in Calaveras Big Trees State Park.
  • 5 Amador County - Located west of Alpine County, Amador County was home to several mines during the Gold Rush, including the Kennedy Mine in Jackson which was the deepest gold mine of its time. Today the county is known for its Zinfandel, with the Shenandoah Valley home to over forty wineries. Visitors may also enjoy Black Chasm Cavern in Volcano, historic buildings, and outdoor activities such as skiing, camping and fishing.
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