Desolation Wilderness, CA, Report – Still Lots of Snow in the High Country

Guest Author | | Conditions ReportConditions Report
Credit: USFS

Report from July 11th, 2023, and written by USFS Wilderness Ranger, Aaron Coy

We patrolled the high country last weekend, and there is still a lot of snow! Stony Ridge is melted out, but the trail has patchy snow drifts up to 10 feet high. Rubicon Lake was partially thawed, and all of the Velma’s are thawed with large drifts and wet trail conditions remaining.

Dicks Lake was still mostly frozen, with very few dry camping spots. Gilmore Lake is thawed, but there are only a few dry camping spots and tons of mosquitos. Dicks pass has sustained sun-cupped snow on both sides, with more snow on the north side. The trail marker on top is still completely buried in snow.

Credit: USFS

Phipps pass is difficult to follow and requires negotiating a dangerous snow chute. Lake Aloha is only partially thawed, and Susie Lake is thawed.

Before heading out, check the weather forecast and be prepared for ice and snow with proper footwear, clothing, and gear. Always travel with a buddy and tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return, then stick to the plan.

Remember that wood and charcoal fires are not permitted, but you may have a portable stove with a valid permit. Be sure to pack out all garbage, and remember, bear canisters are required for overnight stays. Also, mobile devices may not work in some areas, so a paper map and compass are recommended. Develop an emergency plan in case you cannot call for help.

According to Wikipedia, the Desolation Wilderness is a 63,960-acre (258.8 km2) federally protected wilderness area in the Eldorado National Forest and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit in El Dorado County, California. The crest of the Sierra Nevada runs through it, just west of Lake Tahoe.


Extended 7-day forecast for Desolation Wilderness. Credit: NOAA


Credit: USFS
Credit: USFS
Credit: USFS
Desolation Wilderness, CA.

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