Glen Alpine Springs Resort
Discovered in 1863, Glen Alpine Springs opened as a campground in 1878, and in 1884, the resort's buildings were constructed. It became extremely popular in the 1920s. The resort continued to operate until 1966 when it closed.
This is a backwoods resort that was far from most of the influences of civilization. Most of the accommodations were tent cabins that no longer exist. There was also a hotel and a post office that are both gone. The structures that still exist are in reasonably good condition. These include three cabins, a kitchen, dining hall, stable, caretaker's cabin and an assembly hall. There is even a gazebo that protected the source of the spring. Nearly half of the remaining buildings have cheap tin roofs, gigantic windows and very substantial walls made of chunks of granite piled on top of each other. These are fireproof buildings that were constructed after a fire destroyed many of the buildings in 1920. A famous architect named Bernard Maybeck designed these buildings. The wooden buildings built before the fire have wooden walls with tiny windows. You can see the charred black residue of bygone fires on the exterior of many of these wooden buildings.
The brown waters of the nearby spring are full of iron and carbonic acid, which back in the 1920s was considered a healthy fizzy drink. Today, no one wants to drink brown fizzy water unless it bears the label Coca-cola. In its heyday, there was no pond of brown water at the spring, because all the water was being utilized and even exported to cities like San Francisco. Today there is a sizable pond of brown water, and the source of the spring is completely submerged.
Outdoor exhibits display numerous photos of women from a hundred years ago, the suffragette era, bearing fishing poles and hiking sticks with such an air of self possession and strength that not even a bear would want to confront them. People did not stay at Glen Alpine Springs Resort because they wanted to stay in a palace. People came to enjoy the outdoors, not to sit in their room and watch TV. The smallest cabin that still stands is not much bigger than a four person tent you could not fit a queen bed in it.
Guided tours are conducted at 1 pm on Saturday and Sunday mid-June to mid-September. Please call for a recorded message about tours and special events. You can get to this historic site from the Camp Richardson area. From Highway 89 take Fallen Leaf Lake Rd, driving away from Lake Tahoe. Drive all the way past Fallen Leaf Lake and through the community. Take a left at the firehouse and follow the gravel road past the Glen Alpine Falls and to the parking lot at the trailhead. You will need to register to get a free day pass at the self service kiosk and then walk for about a mile on the old gravel road before you get to the site.