What You Should Know When Visiting Lake Tahoe for the First Time

Few could argue that Lake Tahoe is not one of the most beautiful destinations in California, or even across the nation; however, it may not be the stress-free tranquil experience you were hoping to find for your ideal vacation. The summer brings hordes of tourists packed into the tiny town of South Lake Tahoe to take part in the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, watch fireworks over the water for Independence Day or enjoy a nearly endless amount of activities from boating, swimming and camping to fishing, golfing and hiking and everything in between.

What this means to you is that if you don’t mind crowds, you have nothing to worry about, but if you’d prefer more of a getting back to nature kind of holiday there are a number of things you should know that will help you reach your goal and come back home feeling refreshed.

When to visit

If at all possible, head to Tahoe after the kids are back in school and before ski season. For warmer temperatures and fewer crowds go between mid-September and mid-October, but if you don’t mind crisp and cool autumn weather, the shoulder season lasts through mid-November just about the time the ski resorts open.

While you might have to pass on lake swimming, you can still participate in water activities like kayaking or boating and remain fairly comfortable.

Winter fun

If you’re planning a trip specifically to go skiing, snowboarding or participate in one of many winter sports, you should know that this is the second busiest season but you can avoid the biggest crowds by visiting the North Lake Tahoe region such as Diamond Peak in Incline Village, Nevada or Homewood Resort offering unobstructed views of the lake set on its western shore.

Something else to keep in mind for those who are used to visiting Colorado ski resorts- chains are a must and are frequently required during the winter months even if you have a 4-wheel drive. If you’re renting a car, ask the car rental agency about renting chains to go with it or you could end up with a rather miserable holiday not being able to get to your planned destinations. Shovels and ice scrapers are also necessities during a Lake Tahoe winter.

High elevation

If you haven’t spent a lot of time in higher elevations you should know that with the lake at 6,225 feet elevation and the mountains quite a bit higher, it will have an effect on a number of things. Be sure to wear sunscreen in every season – you’ll burn much quicker here than you will at a lower elevation. This also means that you’ll become dehydrated quicker so you’ll want to be sure to carry and drink plenty of water if you’re planning on being out all day.