5 Scenic Drives Near Truckee To Catch Lake Tahoe Fall Colors
You could call autumn the “golden season” in Truckee. When the sun’s angle in the horizon makes everything glow. The ridgeline of the Sierra seems sharper and more defined. Sunfire yellow aspen leaves shimmer in the sunlight. It makes you feel as if you’re in a Lord of the Rings movie. This is the time to slow it down and go for a scenic drive to take it all in. Here’s some of our favorite drives to catch the Truckee and Lake Tahoe fall colors.
Follow The Water
What makes the Truckee and Lake Tahoe fall colors especially spectacular is that the region’s predominant trees are different species of pines. So, when the deciduous ones do change, it provides a contrast of colors. The bright red of the dogwoods and highlighter yellows of the aspen pop sharply like you’re watching life in high definition. The key to finding these oases of color is about following the water. Deciduous trees need it and therefore each lake, stream, and river are where the biggest “blooms” will happen.
Donner Summit Via Old Hwy 40
Before the interstate system was even a twinkle in Dwight D. In Eisenhower's eye, there was the historic Lincoln Highway. The segment known as Old Highway 40 which starts in the historic town of Truckee and finishes near Soda Springs is arguably one of the most scenic drives in the country. There are bastions of aspens that turn up near the summit such as around the train tunnel snow sheds. Continue westward to find more fall foliage along the rocky South Yuba River that’s lined with aspens and cottonwoods.
Highway 267 And A Loop Around Tahoe
If there’s a time of year to take a scenic drive around Lake Tahoe, it’s the fall. The summer beachgoers have disappeared, and the journey becomes a breeze. As soon as you leave Truckee, you’ll find golds and browns of willows and grasses along Highway 267. Some of the highlights for Lake Tahoe fall colors are Page Meadows, Fallen Leaf Lake, and Sugar Pine Point State Park.
Boca and Stampede Reservoir
Taking Glenshire Road north from Truckee, the road merges into Stampede Meadows Road. After you’ve taken in the beauty of Boca Reservoir is when Mother Nature’s fireworks begin. Following the Little Truckee River, the vegetation of cottonwoods, aspen, and willows alongside it create a beautiful display that needs to be seen in person to appreciate.
Highway 89 to Sierraville
Up next is the drive along Hwy 89 from Truckee and onto Sierraville. This section is especially picturesque with yet again aspens, willows and cottonwoods painting the landscape with brilliant yellows. Then make a pit stop to take in the tranquility with a soak at the Sierra Hot Springs (reservations required). If you haven’t had enough, expand the drive from Sierraville west via Hwy 49 up to Yuba Pass which provides spectacular views of the Sierra Valley.
Highway 89 to Olympic Valley
For a quick hit of fall foliage, you can head south from Truckee on Highway 89 towards Olympic Valley. Get a glimpse of the beautiful mountain resort, Palisades Tahoe, before it's covered in feet upon feet of snow, and fuel your stoke for the winter season to come. This segment of road follows the only outlet of Lake Tahoe - the Truckee River. Fall is one of the best times to go fly fishing. It’s when the elusive brown trout becomes particularly aggressive (i.e. more likely to take your bait).