Our family can’t help but leave cares and stress behind whenever we stay at Sorensen’s All Season Resort in Hope Valley, California where everything slows down and TV’s are not missed. In fact, until recently, reservations were still marked by hand in pencil.
Our favorite High Sierra, Alpine family getaway for almost thirty years, this magical, family vacation haven makes it impossible to do anything but unwind and savor each moment together in such a beautiful locale just a couple short hours from Sacramento.
Its charming Scandinavian style housekeeping cottages, comfy linens, wood burning stoves, the wind rustling through the aspens, and the softly babbling brook, always lull us into a restful slumber at night.
Several of the cabins were relocated from Santa’s Village on Highway 17 near Santa Cruz, which was a magical part of my childhood, growing up in nearby Carmel, California. It’s hard to imagine that I sat on Santa’s lap as a child in those very same cabins, many decades ago.
How do I know this? Our family has been visiting Sorensen’s in the Sierra Nevada for over twenty-seven years. And yes, we even married and honeymooned there. Upon arrival, consider the ever famous beef burgundy stew in Sorensen’s Café, while you relax and decompress a bit, enjoying a local wine and the views.
Rise and shine in the morning with a sumptuous breakfast at the café, plotting your course for the day. Exploring the splendor of the valley is easy as Sorensen’s offers varied activities each and every season of the year including snowshoe hikes, cross country skiing, fly fishing, stargazing, historical presentations, hikes, and more. I’ve even taught some travel writing classes there a few times over the years. Talk about me being in my heaven on earth!
Should you decide to strike out on your own, like we always do, a multitude of pleasant afternoon excursions abound nearby. While Lake Tahoe is a half hour away, just up the road a mere five minutes, you’ll find the historic town of Woodfords. Once a Pony Express stop, it’s now a historical landmark. Take a minute or two to stop for a stretch and to familiarize yourself with the captivating history of the area.
From there, follow the signs to nearby Markleeville, just a short scenic drive through geologic formations. The Alpine County Historical Complex high on the hill, offers a glimpse of yesteryear, where our kids always enjoy the 1882 one-room schoolhouse, and the adjacent historical museum.
After walking off your breakfast, it’s probably time to think food again. Stop at the small deli, grocery store, or one of the few quaint restaurants on the main street. Perhaps pick up some snacks and beverages “to go” and forge on to Grover Hot Springs State Park just up the road. With provisions in hand, you’ll find it in less than three easy miles up the road, and it is well worth the short trip.
There you’ll find, nestled in yet another alpine meadow, a fluid treasure once sought out by the Washoe Indians and early settlers for its curative and therapeutic properties. What was once a resort for Markleeville hotel customers a century ago, now offers a calm respite for traveling families from around the world.
Our kids have grown up loving it and have wonderful memories of soaking and swimming there in the springs, under a blazen autumn forest, while watching the snow fall, in the heat of summer, and gazing out at meadows of wildflowers. Every season has beauty that is extraordinary. Sitting in those steaming hot springs during the snowy season is our favorite.
The water, unlike most hot springs, contains hardly any sulphur, but rather a perfect mix of sodium carbonate, sulphate, and chloride to ease your weary muscles and calm the kids.
Before or after your soak, be sure to explore any of nearly a half dozen breathtaking walking trails starting at the springs. Our family loves meandering through the surrounding forests of Jeffrey Pine, Ponderosa, aspen and Sierra juniper, along the Carson River and through the previously mentioned meadows decorated with wildlife and flowers in the Springtime.
Several spots offer the picture-perfect place for a family picnic while watching the still and peaceful nature. After an invigorating immersion into the wonders of the rugged Sierra, it will be time to head back to Sorensen’s Resort, our favorite family sanctuary among the aspens.