Lake Tahoe is shared by two states, California and Nevada, with two-thirds of the lake located in California and one-third in Nevada. It is situated between the Sierra Nevada and the Carson Range and is surrounded by very large mountainous peaks. It is the eighth largest lake in the world.
The water is crystal clear (99.1 percent pure) and visibility at times measures two-hundred feet deep. It has its own natural filtering system with water filtered through marshes and meadows before running into the lake.
Sixty-three streams and two hot springs feed the lake and make it popular for fishing. Trout and salmon are the natural inhabitants. Mackinaw and Rainbow Trout are found in the waters of Lake Tahoe. Shore fishing is popular, but the Mackinaw Trout are best found at two-hundred foot levels. The Kokanee Salmon is a sport fish, hard to catch and presents a real challenge for the sport fisherman. Lake Tahoe’s fishing season is open year-round and either a California or Nevada fishing license is required.
Lake Tahoe is considered one of the favorite vacation and recreation places, with over two million visitors a year. Summer is the peak season (July 4th through September 1st). It offers the best outdoor activities and entertainment. Hiking, biking, water sports, golfing, camping, fishing and rock climbing are just a few of the outdoor activities enjoyed by visitors to this area.
There are several sandy beaches where sun bathing and swimming can be enjoyed, with even a nude beach for those so inclined. Age requirement on this beach is eighteen years.
There are several areas where visitors can take short hikes, but be aware that proper clothing is required due to possible weather changes. A wilderness hike is available that takes you through the desolate wilderness. It is twelve and one-half miles long with nature in the raw. High water stream crossings and sudden stormy weather can happen any time. A permit is required to take this hike.
Winter sports include skiing (downhill and cross-country), snowmobile and ice skating. The ski slopes have fifteen downhill and twelve cross-country ski ranges. This is the largest ski resort in the United States. Over half of the winter visitors to Lake Tahoe go there to ski.
Rock climbing is done in Bear Valley located in Central High Sierra Nevada, at Phantom Spires and Sugarloaf on South Lake Tahoe. Sugarloaf has a pitch of approximately 350 feet and is a popular climbing site in the winter, while Bear Valley offers climbs no higher than 100 feet. Phantom Spires’ climbing is steep and best climbed in early summer through fall season.
In addition to the outdoor activities, Lake Tahoe boasts some of the best casino hotels around – Caesars, Harrah’s, Harvey’s and Horizon. The casinos present top-notch entertainers year-round and have outdoor concerts in the summer. You can expect world class accommodations at the hotel casinos at Lake Tahoe with luxurious guest rooms, fine dining in their restaurants, swimming pools, spas and, of course, the casinos. Casinos are open twenty-four hours a day with some of the best gaming tables. The accommodations for Harrah’s and Harvey’s have been awarded the AAA Four-Diamond award.
Yes, the casino hotels even have wedding chapels with an experienced staff to help in planning a wedding, reception and honeymoon package. The chapels are beautifully designed and make a lovely setting for a wedding. Bridal suites are also available in the hotels.
So, whether you want outdoor activities or just simply enjoy the luxurious casino hotels, Lake Tahoe is definitely a place to consider for your next vacation.
About the Author
Michael Russell is your Independent guide to Lake Tahoe
For a location known primarily for best of class skiing Lake Tahoe offers an amazing choice of activities. Even though outdoor activities are the most most familiar ways to have fun there are so many indoor activities that everyone is sure to find something to please.
Let’s start with the casinos. Most of the Nevada side casinos, including MontBleu Casino, offer a full range of activities besides gambling. Also featured are top live shows, truly fine dining and every kind of shopping.
Hiking has always been among the favorite activities at Tahoe in the warmer months. The Mount Tallac/Glen Alpine trail offers a six mile hike to a breathtaking vista of Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake and the High Sierra. For the truly adventurous there is the Tahoe Rim Trail which, at 152 miles, completely circles the lake and provides some of the most jaw dropping landscapes to be seen anywhere in the world.
For a glimpse into the heritage of the Lake Tahoe area try the Thunderbird Lodge, begun in 1936, which started out to be a vacation resort, but as the building went on the eccentric owner found himself more and more interested in the indigenous history, the flora and fauna of Tahoe. The site was eventually sold to the US Forest Service and the mansion remains as the last and best example of a great individual residence in the area.
For those interested in the natural wildlife of Tahoe no stay could be complete without a stop at Eagle Lake, famous for the wild Eagles often spotted at the lake. It can get very busy on weekends so plan to arrive early.
Additional leading hiking trails typically include Echo Lakes offering an easy to moderate trail past both the lower and upper Echo Lakes and many other smaller lakes along the way. An even easier choice is the Rainbow Trail which is a handicapped-accessible, paved trail and features many signs by the walkway creating a self-guided tour.
Another great view point that isn’t well known is the Stateline Fire Lookout just a 45 minute hike off the road. The lookout area is cleared so nothing obstructs the alluring views that are worth the easy walk.
A beautiful way to enjoy the lake if you enjoy biking is the Ring Around the Lake bike trail. At 72 miles you will probably just select one portion to do.
While we’re talking about the lake we must mention the Dixie Queen paddlewheel boat providing daytime and dinner cruises. The Dixie Queen offers a fun and memorable bring out of any trip to the Lake.
If you want the ultimate in views with very little effort then check out the Squaw Valley Tram. The tram runs year round from Squaw Village up to the observation facility, restaurant and swimming pool build for the 1960 Winter Olympics. Heavenly also offers an thrilling Tram ride operating all year.
This list should not be considered close to complete. I haven’t even touched on many of the other popular adventures such as hot air balloon rides and, of course, the main winter attraction of downhill skiing and boarding.
With so many fun adventures awaiting you why are you sitting there reading this article? Go have some fun. Go find some Tahoe fun!
It is incredible that within a one to two hour drive of a full-feature city like Reno, Nevada, there are more than a dozen world-class ski resorts. Add the attraction of gambling casinos, fabulous restaurants and showrooms and you have a winter vacation destination at Lake Tahoe that is second-to-none.
If you are in Reno for a visit to a casino or on a business trip, it is a very simple to just rent a car or hop on a shuttle bus down to Lake Tahoe and enjoy a day of awesome skiing with absolutely breathtaking views of the lake from the snow covered slopes.
In the South Lake Tahoe area you will find a little piece of skiing heaven called, appropriately, Heavenly. This beautiful and massive ski resorts’ lower slopes can be seen from the Stateline/South Lake Tahoe highways and from most of the lake itself. Many people consider Heavenly to be one of the most spectacular ski areas on the planet.
Heavenly opened in 1955 with only one chair lift and a small hut on U.S. Forest Service land. Today it covers over 4,800 acres and is literally a massive operation. The resort was purchased in the spring of 2002 by Vail Resorts Inc. who has pumped over $36 million in on-mountain capital to improve and upgrade the site. Enhanced snowmaking on 70% of all mountain trails, expanded grooming, outstanding terrain parks, new signage and access to tree skiing are just a few of the improvements that have been made.
The ski season at Heavenly runs roughly from mid-November to late April. The vertical drop is 3,500 feet and the top elevation is 10,067 feet. The mountain spans California where the base elevation is at 6,540 feet and Nevada where the base elevation is at 7,200 feet. Annual snowfall is 360 inches on average but they had 480 inches during the 2004-2005 season.
The resort has 30 lifts, 15 in California and 15 in Nevada, highlighted by an eight-person gondola and an aerial tram. As far as skiing goes, the mountain offers something for everyone. 35% of trails are rated expert/advanced; 45%are intermediate; and 20% are beginner.
Heavenly has a veritable cornucopia of additional amenities and close access to all the lodging, shopping, dining, recreational, entertainment and fitness facilities that you could possibly imagine. It is truly a fantastic resort.
At the north end of the lake we find Squaw Valley USA, the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. It was founded in 1949 amidst 8,000 acres of wilderness preserve in the California High Sierra. Today it boasts over 4,000 acres over six Sierra peaks.
Squaw Valley offers skiers a unique experience since there are literally thousands of acres of open bowl skiing as opposed to the trails that most people (especially Easterners) are accustomed to. Skiing in wide-open bowls in consistently deep snow allows skiers of all levels to kick their skill sets up a notch. There are 16 open bowls to choose from and over 100 runs that are serviced by 33 lifts. The terrain is rated at 25% beginner, 45% intermediate and 30% expert.
The area receives over 450 inches of snowfall annually and boasts one of the most advanced and sophisticated grooming operations around. Three terrain parks and two half pipes round out the operation to include something for everyone. The summit is 9,050 feet with a base of 6,200 feet, making the vertical an impressive 2,850 feet.
Squaw Valley, like Heavenly, offers close proximity to the Lake Tahoe area with all the added attractions and amenities. An absolutely world-class resort, you also have the additional perk of skiing down slopes once graced by Olympic athletes.
These are only two of the many world-class ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe region but they clearly give an indication of the fine facilities that are available. For winter sports enthusiasts who enjoy a nice meal, a relaxing spa and terrific shopping after a day spent on some of the most awesome runs anywhere in the world, Lake Tahoe is a must visit.
About the Author
Michael Russell is your Independent guide to Lake Tahoe