Underrated Landmarks & Truckee Things To Do
Sunset views of the rainbow bridge on Donner Summit. Jaw dropping vistas from Palisades Tahoe. Webber Falls booming over the granite cliffs. All of the iconic destinations in Truckee are worth a visit, but this list is focused on those low key or underrated landmarks in Truckee. Those that provide a different perspective on history or a visual cue to residents that they’re home.
The Olympic Flame At Palisades Tahoe
Get a glimpse of olympic glory. At the intersection of Highway 89 and Olympic Valley Road, you’ll see a large structure that dates back to the birth of Palisades Tahoe and its hosting the VIII Winter Olympics in 1960. The Olympic flame still burns here, where it’s enclosed by the Tower of Nations structure from the Olympics, displaying the emblems of the 34 nations that took part.
See the oldest building in Truckee. In 1863, the only thing that existed in what would become the town of Truckee was a lone cabin built by Joseph Gray. He saw an opportunity to set up a tavern and way station due it being a focal point for transportation routes to converge. After being built, it was a place where twenty to thirty horse-drawn freight wagons as well as the California Stage Company could rest, get the comforts of a roadside inn, and even purchase supplies. Despite all the years of wear and tear, you can see the oldest building in Truckee at its permanent home of 10030 Church Street. In fact, it’s one of the oldest in the entire High Sierra.
Donner Lake Rim Trail
Enjoy the northern Sierra's jewel from a birdseye view. One of Truckee’s newest singletrack rides is the Donner Lake Rim Trail. Out of the current 15 miles of trail that’s finished, nine of them are open to mountain bikers. Once fully completed, it will provide a 23 mile full loop through the high country surrounding the scenic Donner Lake. Throughout its journey, you’ll find expansive views of the lake itself, Mt. Rose, and the Pacific Crest.
Flying “A” Gas Station
Main Street's iconic vintage gas station transformed. As you make the turn onto Main Street, the first thing that tells locals they’re home - the Flying “A” Gas Station. The fire engine red sign with its white curvy architecture harkens back to another era. A time when these vintage gas stations dotted the golden state and now remind you of the film “Back To The Future.” Built in 1936 and restored in 2008. Since then, it has housed a clothing store, brewery, and currently home to Engels & Volkers real estate office.
Looking for the best view of Donner Lake? Yes, the views from the iconic Rainbow Bridge are drop-dead gorgeous, but there is a lesser visited vantage point for those photographers looking for the “shot.” Driving up the Lincoln Highway just before you reach the bridge, you’ll see a spacious pull-out called McGlashan Point. In addition to the gorgeous shot of Donner Lake, you are fully surrounded by things to photograph. On the right stands the towering Schallenberger Ridge with the historic Transcontinental Railroad tunnels carved into its side. On your left, the iconic rainbow bridge. And all around you, the rolling topography of the Sierra.
The Old Jail Museum
One of the few surviving 19th century jailhouses of its kind in the West. Built by donations from nineteen concerned citizens who each donated $25, it was used regularly from 1875 through 1964. This strongbox of a lockup housed the likes of "Baby Face" Nelson, "Ma" Spinelli, and “Machine Gun” Kelly. Along with its rich history, you’ll see relics of the region’s past industries like lumbering, box manufacturing, and ice harvesting.