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Alpine County, California
County of Alpine
A road sign denoting the Alpine County line along California State Route 89 during a snowstorm in May 2008.
A road sign denoting the Alpine County line along California State Route 89 during a snowstorm in May 2008.
Flag of Alpine County, California
Official seal of Alpine County, California
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
California's location in the United States
California's location in the United States
Country  United States of America
State  California
Region Sierra Nevada
Incorporated March 16, 1864
County seat Markleeville
Largest community Markleeville
 • Total 743 sq mi (1,920 km2)
 • Land 738 sq mi (1,910 km2)
 • Water 4.8 sq mi (12 km2)
Highest elevation
11,464 ft (3,494 m)
 • Total 1,175
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1.5814/sq mi (0.6106/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific Standard Time)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (Pacific Daylight Time)
Area codes 209, 530
FIPS code 06-003
GNIS feature ID 1675840

Alpine County, officially the County of Alpine, is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,175. making it California's least populous county. The county seat is the Census Designated Place of Markleeville. There are no incorporated cities in the county.

Alpine County is in the Sierra Nevada, between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park.


Markleeville Alpine County Courthouse
County Courthouse (1928) in Markleeville
Architect: Frederic J. DeLongchamp

Alpine County was created on March 16, 1864, during a silver boom in the wake of the nearby Comstock Lode discovery. It was named because of its resemblance to the Swiss Alps. The County was formed from parts of Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mono and Tuolumne Counties. At its formation, the County had a population of about 11,000 with its County Seat at Silver Mountain City. By 1868, however, the local silver mines had proven unfruitful; and the population fell to about 1,200. The County Seat was moved to Markleeville in 1875.

After the silver rush, Alpine County's economy consisted almost entirely of farming, ranching, and logging. By the 1920s, the population had fallen to just 200 people. With the construction of the Bear Valley and Kirkwood ski resorts in the late 1960s, the population increased to the present level.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has an area of 743 square miles (1,920 km2), of which 738 square miles (1,910 km2) is land and 4.8 square miles (12 km2) (0.7%) is water. The federal government owns about 96% of Alpine County, the highest percentage in California.

National protected areas

  • Eldorado National Forest (part)
  • Stanislaus National Forest (part)
  • Toiyabe National Forest (part)



Places by population, race, and income


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 685
1880 539 −21.3%
1890 667 23.7%
1900 509 −23.7%
1910 309 −39.3%
1920 243 −21.4%
1930 241 −0.8%
1940 323 34.0%
1950 241 −25.4%
1960 397 64.7%
1970 484 21.9%
1980 1,097 126.7%
1990 1,113 1.5%
2000 1,208 8.5%
2010 1,175 −2.7%
2015 (est.) 1,110 −5.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2015

The 2010 United States Census reported that Alpine County had a population of 1,175. The racial makeup of Alpine County was 881 (75.0%) White, 0 (0.0%) African American, 240 (20.4%) Native American, 7 (0.6%) Asian, 0 (0.0%) Pacific Islander, 19 (1.6%) from other races, and 28 (2.4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 84 persons (7.1%).


As of the census of 2000, there were 1,208 people, 483 households, and 295 families residing in the county. The population density was 2 people per square mile (1/km²). There were 1,514 housing units at an average density of 2 per square mile (1/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 73.7% White, 0.6% Black or African American, 18.9% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.4% from other races, and 5.1% from two or more races. 7.8% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 12.1% were of German, 12.1% Irish, 9.3% English, 6.5% American and 5.7% Italian ancestry according to Census 2000. 95.0% spoke English, 3.1% Spanish and 2.0% Washo as their first language.

There were 483 households out of which 25.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.9% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% were non-families. 27.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the county, the population was spread out with 22.8% under the age of 18, 10.4% from 18 to 24, 27.5% from 25 to 44, 29.3% from 45 to 64, and 9.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 110.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 117.2 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $41,875, and the median income for a family was $50,250. Males had a median income of $36,544 versus $25,800 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,431. About 12.0% of families and 19.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.4% of those under age 18 and 10.1% of those age 65 or over.


Major highways

  • State Route 4
  • State Route 88
  • State Route 89

Public transportation

There is limited, call ahead, public transportation provided by agreement with neighboring Douglas County, Nevada (There are a few trailhead shuttles, designed for hikers).


Alpine County Airport is a general aviation airport in the Eastern Sierra about 4 miles (6.4 km) from the town of Markleeville. The airport consists of a simple airstrip with an apron for small light aircraft to park. The airport has no buildings, no lights, and is very rarely used. The airport is popular with astronomers due to the clear, dark skies.


Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Alpine County.

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)
1 Woodfords Community AIAN 214
2 Markleeville CDP 210
3 Mesa Vista CDP 200
4 Kirkwood (partially in Amador County) CDP 158
5 Bear Valley CDP 121
6 Alpine Village CDP 114
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