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April 10, 2018

Introduction to Clear Lake area

101 North


Clear Lake seen from Park Place restaurant window in Lakeport, California
Clear Lake seen from Park Place restaurant window in Lakeport, California

A Little Background 
Believed to be the oldest lake in North America, spring-fed Clear Lake is the largest natural fresh-water lake that is totally within California (Lake Tahoe is partially in Nevada).  It measures 19 miles by 8 miles.  The 90-mile drive around the perimeter takes 2½ to 3 hours.

Clear Lake is situated on volcanic terrain, giving it an unusual physical appearance and a profusion of hot springs.  According to a Pomo Indian legend, when there is no snow on 4,200-foot Mount Konocti in April, the volcano will erupt.  Those who heed legends should check the April snowfall before making vacation plans.

From the 1870s into the early 1900s, this area was world-famous for its health spas and huge luxury resort hotels.  Then, for various reasons, it fell into a state of disrepair and slowly lost its acclaim.  Now it is a reasonably priced family resort area.

Lake County is also noted for its high-elevation wines, and some wineries and vineyards offer spectacular views.  Grapes were planted here extensively before Prohibition, when they were taken out and replaced with plum, pear, and walnut trees.  Now the trees are losing their hold, and the grapes are coming back.

And North America’s only eagle species—bald eagles and golden eagles—come to Lake County to nest each year.

Lake County's first traffic light was installed in 1982.  There are now seven, but it still has no parking meters.

Getting There
Located approximately 19 miles east of Hopland via curvy Highway 175 (a tight, curvy, and scenic two-lane mountain-pass back road), and 110 miles north of San Francisco.   Alternatively, continue north to Ukiah and take Highway 20 east for 20 miles to the town of Upper Lake.

An alternate route follows Highway 29 north from St. Helena.  This scenic route goes through the heart of the Wine Country.  The rolling hills are strewn with blooming wild flowers in spring and with brilliantly colored foliage in fall.  Make the drive during daylight; this winding two-lane road is tedious to drive at night, and, of course, the lovely scenery cannot be enjoyed then.

More Information about Clear Lake.

More things to do in Clear Lake area.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

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