Highway 50 in California / Nevada

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Highway 50

A scenic drive on Highway 50 begins not far from Lake Tahoe, taking you on an adventure through national forest land, small historic towns and giving access to recreational opportunities.

  • CA Highway 50 is a scenic drive from Carson City, Nevada to Placerville, California
  • Just a short way from South Lake Tahoe (or start in South Lake Tahoe)
  • Full length of this section of scenic route is 88 miles
  • Travel over Echo Summit
  • Take a walking tour of downtown Placerville


Taking Highway 50 from Carson City, Nevada, and traveling around Lake Tahoe Basin and through the Sierras to Placerville, California is an impressive drive along a scenic route. You will never be disappointed in the views, and will find plenty of outdoor recreation for the whole family along the way.

Driving Directions

Start from Carson City, just east of Lake Tahoe, and take Hwy 50 south to South Lake Tahoe, following it on through the Eldorado National Forest all the way to historic Placerville, California. You can also start from the town of South Lake Tahoe, either driving north to Carson City or south to Placerville.


From Carson City, Nevada to Placerville, California Highway 50 is only about 88 miles in length and takes an hour and 56 minutes to drive.


Highway 50 CA is a historic corridor and one used by those who arrived in California for the Gold Rush. As you drive this byway, there are many sights to see. Here are just a few:

  • Carson City
    A wide variety of activities are available in Carson City, including guided tours of Lake Tahoe, horseback riding, hang gliding and hot air ballooning. Never a dull moment in this popular western town!
  • Spooner Summit
    Just before you begin your drive along the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe, you will find you are moving high up in the Sierras, to Spooner Summit at 7,140 feet in elevation.
  • South Lake Tahoe
    The sun always seems to shine in South Lake Tahoe. Here you’ll discover great shopping, lots of exciting entertainment, museums and of course, beautiful Lake Tahoe – for boating, swimming, sailing and fishing.
  • Echo Summit
    This mountain peak is the highest elevation of US Route 50 in California. At this 7,377-foot height you’ll find incredible views.
  • Pollock Pines
    This small town is the gateway to the Sierra Nevada Mountains and has a lot of history connected to it. It’s a fascinating stop on your Highway 50 scenic drive.
  • Placerville
    This historic Gold Rush town offers many sights to see, and you won’t want to miss taking a walk down its Main Street. There are a number of shops with good things to eat and gifts for those back home.