Desolation Wilderness

Desolation Wilderness

Destination Overview

Desolation was one of the first places Lifeschool went with teens, and it remains among our favorite and most popular destinations. This 63,475-acre wilderness area within the Eldorado National Forest has an elevation range of 6,500 to 10,000 ft. There are over 100 glacial lakes in this 100 square mile expanse within this granite basin, formed and carved by glaciers in the last Ice Age. The landscape is a mix of granite and lakes, with small forests and lone trees scattered throughout.

Mountain lake

Desolation is a unique gem within California’s diverse and other-worldly landscapes!


Activity Potential

Desolation Wilderness is a backpacker´s paradise just west of Lake Tahoe in the world-famous Sierrra Nevada Mountains. The varied topography of the Tahoe region allows us to create trips tailored to your preference and hiking ability. Desolation is such a varied and diverse, yet compact, area that everyone can have the wilderness experience they are seeking! Choose a shorter out-and-back overnight trip or make a loop over 3 to 4 days, exploring this granite wonderland.


Drop the pack and climb up Ralston Peak to take in the view. . . . Explore endless pristine lakes perfect for swimming, fishing, and hanging out.  . . . Get “rocked” – learn and practice new bouldering techniques while your friends spot you from below.


Consider combining your Desolation Wilderness trip with a day of rafting the American River. Please visit the American River destination page for more info.


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P.O. Box 134 Bodega, CA 94922
phone: 707-876-3071  |  fax: 707-876-3072

Lifeschool / Go Adventure is a non-profit organization
Contributions for financial aid scholarships are gladly accepted!