Lake Tahoe Travel Guide

Mark Twain, in his 1871 travel book Roughing It, proclaimed Lake Tahoe as "the fairest picture the whole earth affords."  The beautiful topaz blue waters of Lake Tahoe with the stunning views of the Sierra Nevada peaks creates a breathtaking scenery. There isn’t a better place for a refreshing vacation than by this alpine lake, soaking in the surrounding beauty. There are so many incredible activities for the adventurous or the whole family. If you are looking for the right mix of excitement and relaxation, then look no further than Lake Tahoe.

 

North Lake Tahoe

  

Photo Credit: Tahoe Adventure Company Facebook

Kayaking or Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Enjoy the clear alpine waters of North Lake Tahoe by going kayaking or paddleboarding. You will get to see the amazing views of the surrounding Sierra peaks, float along the pristine coastline, and get an up-close glimpse of Tahoe’s most beautiful waterfront homes. Kayaking and paddleboarding are such a fun and refreshing way to spend the day on the lake. Tahoe Adventure Company has kayak and paddleboard rentals and they offer tours so you can learn more about ecology, geology, and other natural and human history topics along the way.

 

Photo Credit: Tahoe Adventure Company Facebook

Mountain Bike Tours

North Lake Tahoe offers unsurpassed guided mountain bike tour options for riders of all skill levels. The forested trails, views of Lake Tahoe, and surrounding Sierra mountains offer the perfect backdrop for a mountain bike experience. There are plenty of adventures for the whole family or more advanced riders. The guides are super knowledgeable and really friendly, so you are sure to have an unforgettable experience. 

 

Star Gazing

North Lake Tahoe is an incredible area to do some awesome star gazing. The nights are quiet, you are far from the city, and the weather is typically pretty clear. If you want the experience of a lifetime, then check out this Star Gazing Tour with the award-winning astronomer, Tony Berendsen. You will start with sunset kayaking, hiking, or snowshoeing followed by a brilliant tour of the midnight sky. Tony will teach you about the natural and human history of the area, while you watch the sun cast a purple alpenglow onto the Sierras. Depending on the weather, you can paddle through the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe, hike, or snowshoe through Tahoe’s vibrant, yet peaceful, forest. You will be guided to a viewing point, where Tony will open your mind to the unknown world above you.

 

Skiing and Snowboarding

North Lake Tahoe offers several great resorts that are perfect for skiing or snowboarding. Whether you are a beginner or expert, there are plenty of runs that will be suited for you. Northstar ski resort is an excellent place for families as it has the highest amount of easy terrain, but there are also plenty of black diamond terrains to explore. It does melt down earlier in the season than Squaw Valley, so you will want to enjoy Northstar in winter and early spring. Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are two ski resorts combined on one ticket and connected by a short shuttle bus ride. Squaw Valley is known for its more challenging terrain, but it still offers plenty of easier runs. Alpine Meadows does not have many easy runs, but there are several blue runs.

 

Snowshoeing Tours

Snowshoeing in Tahoe is a classic adventure! Snowshoeing treks offer a taste of the solitude and tranquillity of a snowy forest. You will experience the beauty of Lake Tahoe that can only be accessed on foot. There are leisurely naturalist-led walks or more strenuous ascents of a nearby peak. Your guide will offer fascinating natural and human history information along the way. Check out Snowshoeing Lake Tahoe Mountain tours

 

East Lake Tahoe

Sand Harbor

Sand Harbor is known for its gently sloping beaches, unique rock formations, and crystal clear water. It is a popular place to swim, as it is one of the nicest beaches along the Lake Tahoe shoreline. The water is shallow and clear, making it a great place for kids to play. There are several picnic sites, equipped with barbeque grills and tables. There are two hiking trails in Sand Harbor and a boat launch with rentals for kayaks, paddleboards, and sailboats. The biggest hassle at Sand Harbor is the parking. During the summer, the parking lot fills up quickly. There is a remote parking lot available with a shuttle.

 

Bonsai Rock

Bonsai Rock is a favorite spot amongst nature photographers. The tiny trees growing out of the boulder are a magnificent reminder of the beautiful strength of nature. The impossibility of life growing out of rock crevices feels magical and enchanting. It is a serene place to enjoy the sunset as many people do not know about it. There is no signage pointing you to Bonsai Rock, but Google Maps will bring you right to it. Bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful view of the lake from this peaceful hidden gem.

 

South Lake Tahoe

D.L. Bliss State Park

Located on Lake Tahoe’s west shore, D.L. Bliss State Park has sandy beaches, hiking trails, a lighthouse, and campgrounds. Bliss State Park is the starting point for one of the most famous trails in California, the Rubicon Trail. The trail is 5-miles (one-way) and ends at Emerald Bay State Park. Along the way, the views are absolutely stunning. Other trails include the Lighthouse Trail, which is a 1.5-mile round-trip trail that will take you to the famous Rubicon Point Lighthouse. There is also the famous “balancing rock,” which can be seen on a short one-mile nature trail. Lester Beach is probably the most popular spot in the park as it has a long and clean sandy beach leading into the beautiful blue water of Lake Tahoe.

 

Emerald Bay State Park

Emerald Bay State Park is a shallow bay on Lake Tahoe’s west shoreline. The water is a stunning blue-green color that is made more striking with the picturesque island right in the middle of the bay. At Emerald Bay, you can enjoy a lovely hike, tour a stone castle, take a boat cruise, or simply dive-in to the water. Vikinsholm is the 38-room stone castle that was built in 1860. You can take a tour during the summer months and enjoy the magnificent scenery all year round in this beautiful setting. If you want to make the most out of the experience at Emerald Bay, book a private yacht cruise with Lake Tahoe Boat Rides; along the way, the captain sheds light on the region’s history.

 

Heavenly Gondola & Mountain Resort

Whether you are planning a trip to Lake Tahoe in the summer or winter, Heavenly Resort is a great activity during each season. It is one of the largest ski resorts in North America and has world-famous terrain across two states. The Ridge Run is one of the most scenic trails for skiing I have ever experienced. The views at Heavenly are so unique because you feel like you are skiing down into the lake! Even in the summer, you can take the gondola to about 9,123 feet high and enjoy the stunning views from the observation deck. There are plenty of trails to be enjoyed whether you are skiing or hiking.

 

 

Photo Credit: Lake Tahoe Boat Rides

Boating on the Lake

South Lake Tahoe offers amazing water sports all summer long. Tahoe Boat Rides will help you with technique, safety, and equipment so that you can have a ton of fun on the water. They provide a powerboat and offer awesome activities like wakeboarding, water skiing, tubing, and snorkeling with sizes for children, teens, and adults. They also have private yachts and party boat charters that can hold up 35 passengers! Their professional guides know how to navigate around the lake so that you can enjoy quality time with your family and friends.

 

Photo Credit: Tahoe Helicopters

Scenic Helicopter Tour

See majestic Lake Tahoe the way it was meant to be seen...from a helicopter! You will fly over the pristine wilderness, cascading waterfalls, gorgeous indigo blue waters, and unparalleled sand beaches with their teal shorelines. You can choose to fly over incredible destinations, including Emerald Bay, Fallen Leaf Lake, Desolation Wilderness, Crystal Bay, and Sand Harbor.  Scenic flights over Lake Tahoe depart daily, year-round, from the South Lake Tahoe Airport (KTVL). Book with Tahoe Helicopters to get a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

 

Photo Credit: Tahoe Brew Tours Facebook

Tahoe Brew Tours

After a great day of activities around Lake Tahoe, it’s time to kick back and have some fun with Tahoe Brew Tours. The local beer culture around Lake Tahoe is thriving and I highly recommend checking it out. Tahoe Brew Tours will give you a behind-the-scenes tour with an opportunity to meet a brewer and learn about their craft. You will get to try an array of beers from a multitude of brewing styles. The local guides are entertaining and make the whole experience an absolute blast!

 

West Lake Tahoe

Sugar Pine Point

Sugar Pine Point is a beautiful state park with the tallest pine trees in the world. There are beautiful beaches and a peaceful campground surrounded by beautiful pine, fir, aspen, and juniper trees. Hike along the General Creek Trail, which is a 4.5-mile loop with 300-foot elevation gain. You can visit the historic Pine Lodge, which is a gorgeous mansion built in 1903. Tours of the estate are offered daily during the summer. The park is also open during the winter! The 1960 Olympics were held here and you can still ski along the Olympic Biathlon Trail. The trails are free and typically open in January. For more information, visit the Sierra State Parks Foundation.

 

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