Guests at Pioneer Inn & Suites frequently make a trip to Carson Pass.

Carson Pass is a mountain pass on the crest of the central Sierra Nevada, in the Eldorado National Forest and Alpine County, eastern California.

The pass is traversed by California State Route 88. It lies on the Great Basin Divide, with the West Fork Carson River on the east and the South Fork American River on the west.

The historic pass was a point on the Carson Trail during the California Gold Rush and was used for American Civil War shipping to California until the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad. The Pacific Crest Trail traverses the Carson Pass summit, which has California Historical Landmark #315 at CA 88 postmile 6.09 where Kit Carson carved his name into a tree.

The 1844 Frémont Expedition turned south from northern Nevada. When encamped at Nevada’s Carson Valley on January 31, 1844, guide Kit Carson suggested the expedition detour west during the winter conditions to Sutter’s Fort in California for supplies. Local Washoe Indians told them of a route through the mountains, but warned them not to proceed through the snow. Frémont duly ignored the advice and directed the group westward. The Washoe were right in that they were not able to find food or game, and they ended up resorting to eating dogs, horses, and mules just to survive. On February 14, Frémont and his cartographer Charles Preuss made it up Red Lake Peak and became the first recorded white men to see Lake Tahoe in the distance. On February 21, the expedition made it through the now-named Carson pass west of Red Lake and arrived at Sutter’s Fort on March 6 with no fatalities.

In the summer of 1848, Mormons leaving California for Utah built what would become known as the Carson Trail across the Sierra from Sly Park, California to the Carson Valley via Carson Pass. The Carson Trail became one of the primary routes across the Sierra used by overland immigrants to California in the Gold Rush era.

Elevation: 8,652′
Location: Sierra Crest, Eldorado National Forest, Alpine County, California, United States
Road: California 88
Range: Sierra Nevada