It was purely coincidental that we set out for Independence Lake just a couple days after Independence Day.  When I plugged it into the GPS it read: Distance 11 miles – Estimated time 50 minutes.  Yeah, do that math and you understand the title of this post.

When we read about Independence Lake in a Visitor’s Guide, it was “A fleet of boats and kayaks offered by the Truckee Donner Lake Trust and The Nature Conservancy available for free to visitors” that caught our attention.  And we believed sites that said “an easy drive just north of Lake Tahoe”.


It was the last five miles of bumpy, rocky, dirty, dusty road that were the killer.  We were amazed at the amount of traffic at the lake considering this road, and most who saw us in the parking lot were amazed that we had arrived in a Honda Accord.


You know it’s a challenging road when Jim exclaims, “This road is ridiculous!”


Once we arrived we did enjoy a paddle in a double kayak, but we cut it short due to the the white caps and the brisk wind blowing through the canyon.  We definitely recommend an early start before the afternoon winds pick up.


Walt Disney was a avid skier who enjoyed this area and was making plans to develop a Disney ski resort at Independence Lake.  That came to a halt when he died in 1966 and the company focused on completing construction already in progress in Orlando.


In recent years a “Silicon Valley billionaire”  tried to purchase the land and lake for profit-making endeavors (imagine that!?).



The 2.4-mile lake harbors one of the world’s last two wild lake populations of the Lahontan cutthroat trout. Thankfully, the lake, the trout, and 2,325 acres of surrounding forestlands  will remain protected.


For more information about The Nature Conservancy and how your donations can help protect areas like this for the enjoyment of future generations please visit


Photo by George Lamson, reprinted through Creative Commons licensing.

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