Ice House Road

Similar to the Mix Canyon Road drive, this is a self-guided nature tour. The road is easy to locate but is winding, so drive carefully. It’s a great place to find wildflowers (even into the summer), and boasts an interesting variety of migrating birds in the spring.

  • Easy to Locate? Yes
  • Pet Friendly? Yes. Keep your pet in your car.
  • Easy to Walk? This is really a driving tour; not much walking is required
  • Is there a Fee? No.
  • Are there Restrooms? Yes, in some of the turn-out areas like the Cleveland Corral and the Crystal Basin Information Ranger Station
  • Is there Accessible Parking? Sort of. This is a driving tour and there aren’t a lot of places to park along the road itself. However, adequate parking is available below Bridal Veil Falls, at the Cleveland Corral and the Crystal Basin Information Ranger Station
  • Other Notes: This is a driving tour up a winding road. Drive carefully, there are a lot of blind curves. Keep in mind that the road is at 5,500 feet in elevation, so in the winter and spring months, the road might be slippery with ice, snow and rain.

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Ice House Road is in the Pollock Pines area and winds its way through the Eldorado National Forest. There are campgrounds and a lodge along the route for overnight visits, as well as access to reservoirs in the area.

Once you reach the road, just drive along it and stop whenever you see something interesting

Go up Big Hill Lookout Road to get some real panoramic views

On the way there, you can stop at Bridal Veil Falls. There’s a turnout on Highway 50, and the falls are right there. In the summer, there isn’t a whole lot of water, but it cascades down prettily down the 80-foot drop from the top to the bottom.

Other pretty stops include:

  • The Cleveland Corral Information Station where you can rest as little picnic tables,surrounded by a mix of pine trees, cedars, and broadleaf trees including Black Oaks, Incense Cedars, cottonwood trees, Rocky Mountain Maple, Chokecherry trees, and Bitter Cherry trees.
  • The Big Hill Lookout Tower: where there are incredible panoramic views. You can see parts of both the Union Valley Reservoir and the smaller Ice House Reservoir.
  • Crystal Basin Information Ranger Station: where you can rest, get more information about the national forest, and see a variety of lichen and speciality flowers like the parasitic Snow Plant.

How to Get There:

From Sacramento, you literally just get onto Highway 50 East and follow it to Ice House Road. Then just follow the road as far as you want to go. Easy-peasy.

Travels of a Certified California Naturalist