When I think of resort, I think of five star service, turned down bed sheets the whole nine yards. Caples Lake Resort is not that kind of resort. Think of it as roughing it with two ply toilet paper and style.
Coming up from my hometown that is only 300ft above sea level to 8000 ft is quite a shock though once it wares off you get clean, crisp fresh air. The lake is stunning. Crisp blue waters draw you in but the combination of Evergreens and year around snowy mountains will make anyone feel relaxed and peaceful.
I chose to rent cabin 7 out of 8. This is the cabin to get if you are staying for a week or more. The main thing about this cabin is the fact that it is away from all the other ‘rent’ cabins. The only person that you will see is the manager who goes to his cabin after dark. The cabin itself sleeps five on three beds, one Queen, double, and a twin. However, I find that three adults for a week would be best, unless you really like your bunkmate. I would have really liked to see more seating arrangements other than the two uncomfortable ‘rustic’ dining room like chairs per room. The kitchen is fully equipped to the point of ‘this is home.’ Standards like gas stove, oven, fridge, microwave and the pots and pans you could ever need. Not to mention a great set of cutlery you can use. The dinning room is small seating only four but if you have the above mentioned three adults it’s easy to push the table up to the large scenic window allowing your morning meal to be eaten in peace with views of the lake that is right outside your balcony. The balcony itself is rustic typical to this area. It does have seating, however I found myself sitting on our camping chairs simply due to the fact that they sat a bit higher. When the lake is at its full height you can fish from the balcony, otherwise it is just a fifteen second walk to the lakefront. Despite the cozy cabin, that you are rarely in anyways, Caples Lake Resort is wonderful for those who want to get away and have your amenities too.
What to do:
The nice thing about Caples Lake Resort is its location. You are far enough from civilization to actually relax but close enough to so many things to do. Moreover, everything I’m going to tell you about in the rest of this article is free, bonus!
First off, I will start with El Dorado National Forest. A quick ten-minute drive north on HWY 88 you will spot a small turn out for El Dorado National Forest Woods Lake. I am sure you will love driving down this heavily wooded, paved road. The earlier in the morning the better for some reason it just looks more green before the sun fully pops over the mountains. As you wine down this smooth road, you will pass a creek, camp ground and day parking. At the very bottom of the road, you emerge next to Woods Lake. This little parking area is free unlike the day parking you passed earlier. Woods Lake is perfect for all age groups. However, I would not recommend swimming in this lake. Mainly for the simple reason of the fishing, it is wonderful. What is nice about this lake is the atmosphere; the lake itself is glass hardly a ripple throughout the day. You have perfect reflections of the surrounding mountains in the water. Not to mention you can actually see and hear the trout jump up out of the water. If you are a hiker not a fisher, the many trails around Lake Woods will tickle your fancy. One of the easier trails will lead you to ‘Lost Cabin’, which is a cabin built near the lake ages ago. The lake is beautiful, the fishing is excellent, but personally, the best part of Woods Lake is restrooms that are about twenty feet back from the lake. I may like to fish but I do not like to use leaves while I’m out and about.
After Woods Lake, I took a little excursion down HWY 88 to Tahoe. The drive was spectacular in itself. On this drive down 88, you can stop at one of the many road way stops. Venture off if you have the time. A few include; Carson Pass, Red Lake (which is actually green) Lower blue lakes, and so many rivers and streams you seam to loose count. Once in Tahoe, you have an abundance of things to do. However, I enjoyed doing some free things that tend to take up most of my day. First my car group and I walked the Historic Homes right off of Tahoe’s shore. This is lovely in the off-season, but more enjoyable during the summer. In the summer, all the historical homes are open for you to walk through and see how people lived during each era when they built the house. During the off-season, you still get to see some beautiful architecture as well as the beautiful gardens that are tended to year around. If you want to go swimming in the lake there are many walkways leading to an almost deserted shoreline that is prime for swimming. After viewing the homes, you can either take a short drive to the Visitor Center or take the Visitor Center Trail that pops you out at the National Forest Visitor Center. From here, you can take three different trails; Rainbow Trail, Smokey’s Trail, or the Forest Trail. All three are relatively easy trails that take you through the flora and fauna of Tahoe and Taylor creek. I particularly like Rainbow Trail. After walking through the different stages of creek bed and outlying areas, you find yourself walking along Taylor Creek. The creek is beautiful, awe-inspiring and after taking it in you will find yourself going underground to view the creek from a different perspective. This is wonderful. The newly remodeled room allows you to see the creek from an underwater perspective and all the fish that spawn in Taylor Creek. It is really a sight to see. On your way out make sure and leave a few bucks in the box because it may be free but you would have paid to see it in Monterey. After this, you may be tuckered so just grab a quick bite from the multitude of restaurants in Tahoe and play tourist for the rest of the day.
Lastly, back at Caples Lake Resort I highly recommend taking a Kayak or Canoe out for a couple of hours. If you are in a cabin, the kayaks are free. The staff will give you the equipment the night before if you choose to go out before the store opens at 8 am. I recommend you going out around 7am before the sun comes over the mountains. The lake is usually quite calm and the views are spectacular once the sun starts to hit the water. By 7:15ish you should be able to paddle your way to the southeast corner of the lake. This is the last area hit by the sun. The water is glass that early in the morning. An almost eerie feeling passes over you as rocks that stick halfway out of the water pass right by you. Some areas you cannot access by boat due to the rocks that block the way. Once the sun starts to warm the top of the lake you get a fine fog that rises reminding you of some far off adventure that you just so happen to be apart of. It is really something to behold.
All in all Caples Lake Resort is an adventure in itself. You can find yourself at peace with the beautiful surroundings while reading a book. On the other hand, for the more adventurous type you may see Caples Lake Resort as a stepping-stone to all the wonderful things El Dorado National Forest has to offer. Whichever the case you will find that coming home to a fireplace warmed cabin has a special place in any nature lover’s heart.
Caples Lake Resort
Highway 88, 1.5 miles east of Kirkwood.
60 miles east of Jackson and 30 miles south of Lake Tahoe