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Donner Lake

Mountain High

Article by Finn-Olaf Jones 01.30.2018

Once a raucous lodging village, Truckee is now the premier destination on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore.

Truckee, a former railroad and lumber town, is now playing its best role as the undisputed center of fun and culture of the Lake Tahoe region. Through its long history to now, people have gathered here from around the world to turn the town into something like a California version of Aspen.

A man stand-up paddleboarding on the Truckee River during the winter.


Donner Memorial State Park is a popular place for locals to fish in Donner Lake, camp and swim in water usually much warmer and less crowded than in neighboring Lake Tahoe.

Glacial movements in the valley improbably placed a car-sized boulder atop Rocking Stone Tower’s flat top to create a house-sized rock formation. The boulder has a curved bottom and is one of the 25 known “rocking stones” on the planet.

Donner Lake


“If you’d come here in the ’80s, this was a rough and tough place,” remembers Kevin Drake, co-founder of microbrewery Alibi Ale Works. “The old railroad buildings were full of dive bars for Hells Angels, truckers and rowdy folk, so there were always fights going on.”

Now, people can enjoy the town’s food and offerings minus the fighting. Try a pint of Alibi’s oatmeal stout, a milky beer brewed straight from Lake Tahoe’s gin-clear water.

A veteran of the renowned restaurant Daniel in New York City, John Weatherson and his wife, Nyna, opened Trokay, where they now cook locally sourced fish and wildlife, along with fresh seafood driven in from San Diego. Nyna, who had been a cheesemonger in New York, produces exotic and meticulously sourced cheese plates that are served with dollops of strawberry guava and brandied cherries.

A dish from John Weatherson’s restaurant, Trokay.


Stone carving, and just about any other craft you can think of, is offered at Atelier. The front of the store is crowded with art supplies and a printing press while the ample open space in the back is the setup for classes in everything from cheese making to shibori — Japanese tie-dye. Atelier also frequently conducts classes at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe.

Truckee at dawn

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  • Lake Tahoe

    Location Truckee, California

    Experience Ski-in/ski-out luxury resort located mid-mountain on Northstar California.

    • Ski Valet and Mountain Concierge
    • Family-friendly winter activities
    • Spacious luxury suites and residences