Kit Carson Pass in California

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Carson Pass

Discover some stunning natural beauty along the Carson Pass Highway, close to Lake Tahoe, where you’ll enjoy amazing views, outdoor recreation galore and the perfect escape from the everyday grind.

  • Drive the Carson Pass Highway (Highway 88) from Lake Tahoe all the way to Stockton
  • A 58-mile drive that takes about 1.5 hours
  • Marvel at the scenery through the Eldorado and Humboldt Toiyabe National Forests
  • Stop at the Bear River Reservoir to boat or fish
  • Catch trout in Silver Lake


Driving the Carson Pass Highway, you’ll enjoy some of the most wonderful scenery imaginable, as you move through the Eldorado and Humboldt Toiyabe National Forests. Starting southeast of Lake Tahoe and following California Highway 88, you will move through the scenic Sierra Nevada Mountains, over Carson Pass and into the Sacramento Valley. With access to the Mokelumne Wilderness and all the surrounding national forest lands, you’ll find abundant outdoor recreation for the whole family as well as green meadows, shimmering lakes and ragged peaks. Topping out at a magnificent 8,650 feet at Carson Pass, it’s a scenic drive you shouldn’t miss when visiting Lake Tahoe.

Driving Directions

Out of South Lake Tahoe, take US Highway 50 south to Luther Pass Road (Highway 89) and you will come to California Highway 88, the Carson Pass Highway.


Drive the 58 miles of the Carson Pass Highway in about 1.5 hours.


Bear River Reservoir
Along the Bear River, you’ll discover a lake with a 9-mile shoreline. Lined with beautiful pine and fir forest, the lake invites you out on the water in a boat, or to throw in a line and catch some brown and rainbow trout.

Silver Lake
Stop at Silver Lake for a scenic hike, camping or fishing. This is the perfect stop along the scenic byway for some recreational fun.

Mokelumne Wilderness
Hike into the wilderness on one of the many trails, enjoying the pristine lakes and rivers and surrounding peaks.

Kirkwood Ski Resort
Wintertime offers downhill and cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and sledding. The winter landscapes are breathtaking.

The Kit Carson Marker
At the summit of Carson Pass, visit the spot where Kit Carson carved his name into a tree in 1844. The original is now displayed at Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento.