Top 5 Reasons to Visit Lake Tahoe
Headed to Lake Tahoe? You, like most who visit, are headed to the area for much more than the lake itself! The name of Lake Tahoe can be a bit deceiving, depending on who you ask, this could mean the actual clear waters of the lake, the beach-side towns, or the surrounding area of the mighty Sierra Nevada Mountain Range encompassing both California and Nevada, lake and mountains, town and wilderness. You’ll often encounter the area simply named “Tahoe” to account for this more general meaning, and this enormous area of wild nature is what I encourage you to consider for your adventure.
Survey a Landscape of Contrasts
This large alpine lake offers a unique natural landscape that is not often found in the states. The lake itself is over 20 miles long, the largest alpine lake in North America, and nestled next to 10,000 foot peaks rising 4,000 feet from the clear blue waters. These towering mountains overlooking the massive lake make Tahoe a true rarity. It’s not just the mountains and it’s not just the lake; It is the convergence of the two that has awed generations of visitors to the area.
Experience Pristine Waters
The water in Lake Tahoe is also some of the clearest in the world. I personally can attest to this, as I made the ultimate tourist move of belly-flopping off my paddleboard here and popped back up to realize my sunglasses were not on my face. I was able to spot them quite a ways below the surface for an exciting recovery mission! Personal anecdote aside, the water is known to be so clear as 40% of it falls directly on the lake, and a great majority of the other 60% is brought through marshes and meadows which act as an efficient filter before reaching its final destination.
Choose from Endless Hiking Options
Of course, time in the mountains is just as precious here as it is on the lake. The Tahoe Basin offers hours of breathtaking hiking options, whether it’s from the views or from the climbs! Meandering atop naturally crushed-granite paths or through forests of Jeffrey Pines is an essential part of any visit to the area. With so many trails to consider, we’ve selected some of our favorites on our Tahoe itineraries that are a bit off the beaten track for day hikers.
Enjoy the California Climate
Lake Tahoe is also known for some pretty impressive weather. As an alpine environment, it’s a sweet escape for the flat-landers just east or west of the Sierras, a retreat to cooler summertime temperatures. But also as an alpine environment, you can see quite a range of forecasts here. During one September visit of mine, I tasted snowflakes in a gentle autumn flurry hiking above treeline, then caught some rays on the beach and dunked in the lake that afternoon. Take note of the unique Washoe Zephyr in summer afternoons as well. While personally wind is my least favorite kind of weather, this unique phenomenon is quite interesting to view from the comfort of a lake-side balcony, as strong gusts blow in from the west almost like clockwork. Generally this appears in the late afternoon however, when most are winding down the day’s activities, and generally only affects those on the lake itself. Overall, Tahoe will have you soaking up the sun in a cool mountain climate no matter where you choose to recreate, so don’t forget the hats and sunscreen!
Immerse yourself in Cali-culture
You may instantly think of “surf’s up” and “hang ten” when it comes to the golden state, but if you want a true intro to the unique california style, there’s no better place than Tahoe. Just an hour on either side of the lake you’ll find the exciting hotspot of South Lake Tahoe or the mellowed out mountain town of Truckee. Both are essential to truly adopting the California lifestyle while you’re there. You can vibe toward the go-getting, thrill-seeking attitude of peak-baggers and boaters, or melt into the tranquil peace of the wilderness and relax on lake time. As a whole this place is a mountain town and a beach town, a local’s hideaway and a tourist’s getaway. As all these things collide in one relatively small area, you’ll be immersed in the action-packed, laid-back culture for which California is known.