Truckee, California

By Susan Schnier
November 2006

Truckee, CaliforniaMany transient ski bums have been suckered in for life by Truckee’s old mining town feel and primo ski access. Thirty-somethings with car seats in Subarus share the town with their former selves – teens and twenty-somethings in sticker-plastered beater sedans. 2.5 hours from San Francisco and 35 minutes from the Reno/Tahoe airport, easy urban escapes complement small town living.

Skiing: Truckee is flanked by Northstar-at-Tahoe, 6 miles southeast, Squaw Valley, 10 miles south, Alpine Meadows, 13 miles south and Sugar Bowl, 9 miles west. Squaw and Northstar have sprouted self-contained villages.

Green Living: An electric car charging station makes Truckee part of California’s “Electric Highway,” extending across the state along I-80.

Nighlife: The downtown strip ranges from the beer-soaked dive bar flavor of the Tourist’s Club to Moody’s pseudo-San Francisco swank.

Gastronomy: Cottonwood, overlooking the Truckee River, used to be a warming hut for a ski area that shut down in 1969. Jalisco serves authentic Mexican food for the budget-conscious.

History: The Donner Party became infamous for cannibalism in Truckee in 1846 when a blizzard prevented the pioneers from crossing Donner Summit. The Emigrant Trail Museum on Donner Lake commemorates them.

Must Do: Take in a 360-degree view from Rainbow Bridge, above Donner Lake on Old 40. It’s near the China Wall, a large rail bed retaining wall with ancient petroglyphs below.