You might think you know the Sierras inside-out, but many of the mountains’ best sights are waiting for you to discover them

Peter Fish, Ann Marie Brown, and Matthew Jaffe  – April 17, 2013 | Updated October 8, 2019

We Westerners all know California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. They are fundamental to who we are: Without the foothills’ gold-festooned gravel, few would have crossed the continent to get here. And for generations, it’s been California’s backyard mountain range. 

And yet, for every famous Yosemite site, the Sierra holds hundreds of equally lovely but barely known alpine valleys; for every Tahoe, dozens of high mountain lakes. Here are some of the Sierra’s top hits and best-kept secrets, wonders waiting to be explored