Alpine County, California sits astride the Pacific crest, south of Lake Tahoe and north of Yosemite. Its name truly describes the area, since snow-covered peaks, high alpine meadows and beautiful forests are the main geographic features. Elevation ranges from just under 5000 feet above sea level where the West Fork of the Carson River enters Nevada northeast of Woodfords to 11,462 feet above sea level on Sonora Peak at the southern tip of the County near Sonora Pass. The headwaters of four major rivers are located in Alpine County – the American, Carson, Mokelumne and Stanislaus. Alpine County is 96 percent publicly owned, the majority of which is national forest. The main routes in Alpine County are state highways 88, 89, and 4. Alpine County has the smallest population of all counties in California (about 1200 people in 2008). Most of the population is concentrated around a few mountain communities: Markleeville, Woodfords, Bear Valley and Kirkwood. Recreation and tourism is the primary economic activity. Two ski resorts – Bear Valley Mountain Resort on Highway 4 in the southwest corner of the County and Kirkwood Mountain Resort near Carson Pass are in Alpine County. Grover Hot Springs near Markleeville and Hope Valley west of Woodfords draw significant visitors as well. Residents enjoy a rural lifestyle, with the convenience of several city areas in the neighboring counties and in Nevada. Markleeville is the County seat, and home to many of the county's offices. Since Alpine County has no incorporated cities, most public services are provided by county departments and agencies.
- Written by Tim Snellings