Top 23 wonders of the Sierra Nevada

Many of the mountains’ best sights—unlikely as it seems—are waiting for you to discover them

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Kit Carson Lodge
Photo by Thomas J. Story

Kit Carson Lodge

The perfect Sierra lodge should at once give you lots of things to do and make it hard for the outside world to annoy you. Karen and Mike Riddle’s version of this ideal retreat sits on Silver Lake—a sapphire blue lake where you can swim, or rent a kayak and paddle out to the lake’s Treasure Island. A short drive away is all the hiking you’ll ever need: Easy treks include the 1-mile trail to Granite Lake. For the more ambitious, a 3.6-mile trail ascends Thunder Mountain.

Then there’s the lodge parlor, which has knotty pine walls, a stone fireplace, and landscape paintings by local artists. Comfy chairs and small tables invite protracted games of cribbage. Seclusion? Most cell phones don’t work, although they’ll let you use the house phone if you need it. And don’t forget your French press: Though fixed up in 2011, the lodge still has generators that don’t tolerate electric coffeemakers in the otherwise well-stocked cabin kitchens.

Still, you’ll feel like you’re in the hub of it all on Sundays, when the lodge’s chef caters an outdoor barbecue with sticky slabs of pork ribs and roasted chicken. Like the Kit Carson itself, they’re perfect. Rooms from $130, cabins from $180; kitcarsonlodge.com.

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