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Top Destinations  ·  Northern California  ·  Lake Tahoe Area

Lake Tahoe Area - Tahoe City - South Lake Tahoe - Truckee

Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay is most impressive when viewed from the road above the lake.

At Lake Tahoe, any season of the year, a steady stream of travelers arrives to vacation in the mountains or on the lake – generally, on skis or in a boat. Lake Tahoe is famous for it’s clear, cold deep blue waters reflecting the surrounding forested mountain peaks. At the south end, several large South Lake Tahoe resorts and casinos offer Vegas-like gambling vacations in a stunning setting. Ski all day, play all night.
Reliably deep and powdery snow makes winter skiing and snowboarding at Lake Tahoe a magnet for travelers. Many of the ski resorts are year-round resorts with plenty of activities for warm-season visitors. Tahoe ski resorts are famous – Squaw Valley, Dodge Ridge, Kirkwood, Heavenly, Northstar, Sugar Bowl, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Alpine Meadows and several others.
In summer, the focus is the lake and nearby hiking trails. Powerboats, ferries, kayaks, canoes, and jet skis are readily available. The water is always cold but hot summer sun and cloudless skies offset the chill. The Pacific Crest Trail runs north/south just west of the lake.
Some of the highlights of this destination include:
Attractions: Donner Pass, Vikingsholm Castle, Ehrman Mansion

Towns: Tahoe City, Truckee, Incline Village (Nevada), South Lake Tahoe

Lakes and Rivers: Lake Tahoe, Donner Lake

Beaches: Emerald Bay

National Forests: Tahoe National Forest, El Dorado National Forest

State Parks: Emerald Bay State Park, Sugar Pine Point State Park, Burton Creek State Park

Lake Tahoe Area Scenic Drives

Scenic Drive
Destination Index Print/Zoom

Lake Tahoe is one of the most stunning natural destinations in California with year-round appeal. Spring and fall in the Lake Tahoe area offers hiking, river boating, kayaking, river rafting, cycling and just plain gawking at the scenery of the Tahoe area. Summer adds the possibility of swimming and water-skiing, as well as camping at the numerous Lake Tahoe area parks and private campgrounds. In winter, Lake Tahoe is transformed into one of the world’s premier ski and snowboard playground. Combined with the Nevada-side casino resorts and the nightlife they offer, it is easy to love Tahoe.
Located in the High Sierra, elevations in the area range from 7000’ to more than 8000’ so Lake Tahoe area weather is often significantly cooler than California’s coast and central valleys. In winter, heavy snows may close roads or require chains so it is wise to check weather forecasts and road conditions before starting.
Surrounded by three national forests, Tahoe, Eldorado, and Toiyabe, the Tahoe area is perfect for scenic drives around Lake Tahoe and into the nearby mountains. The two main routes to the Lake Tahoe area are Interstate 80 and Highway 50 so our scenic routes may start at either end of the lake.
SCENIC DRIVES: Starting from I-80, take 89 south (or first head into the town of Truckee for supplies and then take 267 south) to do a loop around the lake, taking time to stop at the numerous vista points, trailheads, state parks and public beaches. Sugar Pine Point State Park offers a view of privileged life on the Lake in the 1920’s through tours of a lakeside estate. Emerald Bay is one of the most photographed spots showcasing the legendary watercolor and clarity of Lake Tahoe.  

SIDETRIPS: 89 continues south to connect with Highway 50. Take 50 or 88 or 89 to enjoy the scenery as you pass from peaks to valleys. The area is home to many ski resorts but it remains pristine enough to provide habitat for a wide range of wildlife as well.  


© Brian Kelly
Tahoe is a prime destination for skiers with many resorts and runs for all skill levels.

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