The Incredible Highway 88

Highway 88 California

October 2017


I wanted to find the old wooden shed that sits between the yellows, ambers and greens of autumn (thats how most photo adventures begin!)   We’ve all seen that perfect picture…the one that you want in your portfolio. Techincally we drove far out of our way to seek out this spot, but it was totally worth the gas!  We were driving from Auburn, Northern California, to South lake Tahoe and then down through highway 88, eventually ending up in Yosemite.    You hit highway 50 just out of Auburn on the drive to Tahoe and there are plenty of stop and stare moments there also!

HIghway 50 California

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A lot of the layovers don’t look so enticing, rather large trees blocking the way but if you rustle through some of the foliage you will get down to the river.  This is the South Fork American River, which runs west of Lake Tahoe 140km and empties into Folsom Lake!  The landscape surrounding it is fresh and picturesque.


Highway 88

From highway 5o we then hit 89 and onto 88.   It’s pretty desolate.  Perfectly laid highways through the mountains, with beautifully bright yellow road markings, right in the middle of nowhere.  No fences or people …. nothing!  But far from barren.  About 15 minutes out of Tahoe, we started to hit the autumn colours!  It was so beautiful! You can see highway 88 on the map here


Highway 88 Colours


Aspen trees are famous for their incredible autumn hues.    For those who dont know, they only grow between 5000 and 12,00 feet.  Hence why we never see them in Ireland.  There colour is such a rich and vibrant  yellow, so bright it stands out so much from its surroundings!   There was so many spots to stop and take a quick snap!


The search for the old wooden shed continued!  We were on the right track but when your directions were, “it’s just on highway 88”, it wasn’t easy to know exactly where.   After a few wrong turns and a phone call to a friend, we eventually found it!  (Thanks Jake!)  It really was just there on the side of the road…but if you were going too fast you’d miss it!  It appears for just a second!  I’m not sure why this photo appeals to me so much.  I guess it was just the uninhabited  countryside surrounded by the contrast of… COLOUR!

Hope Valley California

It is, in fact, private property hence this was taken from the road.  But there is still a good view.  Little did I know, that was only one of the many gems this highway was about to produce.  We continued on west and came upon Red Lake.   Again, the views are stunning.  In fact so many places on this road way are so breathtaking, that its hard to drive and concentrate without looking at them!


Carson Pass

The road winds on through Carson Pass Highway and passes Lake Caples and Silver Lake.  We stopped at both.  Again, this scenery is just totally out of the ordinary for me but if you don’t want to keep stopping, just pick one.  I would highly suggest Silver Lake.  It’s in an area called Kit Carson and Silver Lake itself backs onto Thunder Mountain!  We pulled into the car park and there wasnt another person in sight.  I walked over to the waters edge and managed to snap one of my favourite pictures to date.

Kit Carson

It was so still and so silent.  The water an almost perfect reflection of thunder mountain.   I couldnt believe my eyes, it was so beautiful.  There is something very special about getting a place like this all to yourself!  It makes you remember it with even more detail!  I can still smell the pine, the air is so incredibly fresh and the sound of the stones crunching under my feet!  The sun was setting and the golden light only lasted a few minutes!  As it turns out, the lake is not normally that low.  Hence why I was able to get this photo.  I walked across what would normally be waist height water!  My lucky day!



I will never forget the raw beauty of this highway… it’s desolation, incredible landscape and colour!  Autumn was perfectly timed for us.   The colours just made everything look even more incredible.  Other bits of information:  There is no cell signal.  Zip. Nada.  The entire road.  No gas station, no shops.   We had no idea how long we were going to be on it for but that was probably the only time in my life I just didn’t care because I was very happy to get lost there!  Sometimes going way out of your way is well worth the adventure!

Kit Carson

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2 thoughts on “The Incredible Highway 88”

  1. To give people a real glimpse of wonder, get some shots of the Machado Post Piles. Far more ancient than the Devils Post Piles and about an hour hike in from Kit Carson.

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