Kirkwood, California is a year-round mountain destination located south of Lake Tahoe in California in the Eldorado National Forest and is accessible by State Route 88. Kirkwood’s main attraction is the Kirkwood Mountain Resort. Called the ‘Wood by locals, the resort and surrounding area are popular with winter sports enthusiasts, and receives abundant snowfall each season and offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
With the deepest, driest snow around and some of North America’s most diverse and challenging terrain, Kirkwood offers the perfect setting for winter adventures. The terrain of Kirkwood offers skiers and snowmobile riders everything from long groomed trails to expert lines and chutes. The village contains ski-in, ski-out accommodations, shops and restaurants, and opportunities for other fun activities such as cross country skiing, snow shoeing, dog sled tours and backcountry adventures.
With elevations ranging 7,800 to 9,800 feet, the location of Kirkville creates something called the K-Factor –– a geographical predisposition to receiving the lightest, driest, and most plentiful snow in the Tahoe region. With 2,000 feet of vertical drop, and over 2,300 acres of terrain –– from calm groomed beginner runs, to steep cliffs and high-angle grooming –– there’s something for everyone.
During the summer, Kirkwood offers world class rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and fishing. Visitors and outdoor enthusiasts staying in one of the many log homes in the area are treated to stunning fields of wildflowers throughout the summer, following by mountainsides of aspen trees turning colors in the fall that take your breath away.
Some of the earliest travelers to the Kirkwood area were the Washoe, a tribe whose history spans nearly 9,000 years in the area. The Washoe people lived a seasonal and nomadic life. In the spring and summer months here the Washoe would hunt, fish, and collect medicinal plants, roots, and berries for the winter season. There are several places along the ridge tops where evidence of Kirkwood’s early past can be found in lithic scatter areas. These are areas where cultural remains such as crude stone tools, spear heads and arrow head points can be found.
Like the Washoe before them, explorers, trappers, and the early gold-seeking emigrants of the 1800s would find the barren mountaintops and ridges as the easiest of passable routs through the mountains during the snow months. These high altitude routes were favored for travel because their exposure to the wind would scour away the deep, impassable snow pack.
Zack Kirkwood, a cattle rancher who had settled in the area, opened an inn, named Kirkwood’s, in 1863 with the opening of the Amador/Nevada Wagon Toll Road, the primary route through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The following year, Alpine County was created and the redrawing of the county borders placed the inn at the convergence of Alpine, El Dorado, and Amador counties (the borders were later changed so the inn is no longer in El Dorado County, but the original signpost marking the intersection of the three is still in the building). After Zack’s death, the inn stayed in the family and continued to operate until 1966, when it was sold to an investment group, who then converted it into the present-day Kirkwood Mountain Resort.
One of the best things about the Kirkwood area, of course, is the great variety of log homes in the area. The community is filled with beautiful log homes, friendly people, and a wide variety of activities for either adventure-seekers or those looking for a peaceful, scenic getaway.
California has a lot of great communities filled with every shape, style and size of log homes. We’re lucky to work with homeowners throughout the state who trust us for restoring, repairing and building the log homes and structures they love. From great lodges in the north to cozy weekend getaways in the south, we get to see it all. In addition to this article about Kirkwood, we’ve also shared insights into other log home-friendly communities including Sonora, Bear Valley, Mammoth, Pine Mountain Club & Frazier Park, Truckee, Lake Tahoe, and Santa Cruz.
We hope this inspires you to visit this beautiful mountain community. If you decide to purchase a log home in the Kirkwood area, or already own one and would like an appraisal, tips for maintenance, or general advice for keeping your home in good condition, please call our California log home construction and restoration experts at 877-477-6564, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.