What didn’t happen here: A shoreline jammed with houses, restaurants, and pubs. And motorboats.
Why it’s a winner: Independence Lake, a half-hour north of Tahoe in the High Sierra, was formerly owned by NV Energy and once used to produce hydropower. It has nothing on its shores except Jeffrey pines, red firs, and some picnic tables. The Nature Conservancy and the Truckee Donner Land Trust fought off a private buyer to purchase 2,325 lakeside acres for $15 million.
Take a look: Off State 89, 50 minutes north of Truckee; follow signs to Independence Lake. nature.org