By Laura Read
Located on the eastern spine of California, the sculpted shapes of the Sierra Nevada comprise some of California’s grandest places: the glorious expanse of Yosemite Valley, the ancient volcanic rock formations of the Sierra Buttes, and the mighty Kern River canyon. Looming peaks, cascading rivers, glacier carved cirques; the Sierra Nevada’s endless landforms are enchanting playgrounds for adventure. Challenged by such extremes, adventurers find ways to test their grit in the Sierra by kayaking thunderous rivers or hiking along the 1,072-mile Pacific Crest Trail. Some explore the Sierra High Route at 10,000 feet, while others land wild trout or ski backcountry bowls.
On Main Street or in the backcountry, it is easy to meet the people of the Sierra, whether they play piano at a historic hotel or lead tours through limestone caverns. Some sell vintage bottles in Placerville or hold traditional pow-wows on the Modoc Plateau; others build hiking and mountain biking trails around Lake Tahoe, enjoy regional cuisine in a Sierra Valley barn, or strum the standup bass in Three Rivers. From mountaintop yoga festivals to river restoration programs such as the annual Great Sierra River Cleanup, group gatherings reflect the diversity of the Sierra’s inhabitants. Caretakers, curators, and sometimes curiosities themselves—Sierra Nevada residents honor and savor the past while inviting travelers to share in the future of this remarkable “Range of Light.”
Meet the hearty locals and explore their favorite place for self-discovery and renewal they call home with the free Sierra Nevada mobile app and website, www.SierraNevadaGeotourism.org. With local knowledge in your pocket, get off the beaten path and discover timeless towns and world-class adventures steeped in tradition sustained by the land.