The Sierra Nevada offers the most scenic landscapes in California—Lake Tahoe is one of the most popular destinations along this mountain range. An estimated 15 million visitors a year (yes... 15 million) visit Lake Tahoe for its turquoise water, dramatic mountain ranges, lakefront beaches, pine forests, abundance of outdoor recreational activities, and more. This guide will detail everything you need to know to plan your visit.
Quick Facts About Lake Tahoe
• Second deepest lake in the United States with the deepest point at 1,645 ft.
• Lies between the California and Nevada border
• Over 2 million years old—making it one of the 20 oldest lakes in the world
Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe
Accommodations can be found in both North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe. North Lake Tahoe is quieter, and offers an undisturbed lakeside experience. South Lake Tahoe is livelier, and offers entertainment including casinos, bars, and more.
When to Visit Lake Tahoe
• Spring (March-May): Expect mild weather during the day and chilly weather at night. Spring is considered shoulder season. While you can expect pleasant weather during this time of year, snow in the earlier months is not unusual.
• Summer (June-August): Expect warm weather during the day and cool weather at night. With temperatures in the high 70s, summer is the most popular time to visit Lake Tahoe as most outdoor activities become accessible—hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, boating, jet skiing, biking, and more!
• Fall (September-November): Expect mild weather during the day and chilly weather at night. Fall is also considered shoulder season. This is my favorite time to visit as Lake Tahoe becomes draped in vibrant fall colors. Watch my YouTube Short here!
• Winter (December-February): Expect snowy and cold weather. During winter, the lakeshores, mountains, and trees become covered in a blanket of snow. This is another popular time to visit as Lake Tahoe is home to a handful of ski resorts.
Getting Around in Lake Tahoe
The 72-mile road that ribbons along Lake Tahoe is best explored by driving a car as you can access more areas at your own pace.
Note that some sections of Highway 89 may be closed during winter. You can check current road status and conditions here.
Things to Do in Lake Tahoe
Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park: Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park features a wooden pier that sits atop turquoise water, overlooking the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and is nestled amongst pine and cedar trees.
Emerald Bay State Park: Emerald Bay State Park is one of the most popular attractions in Lake Tahoe, and for good reason—here you'll find a deep blue lake surrounded by a dense pine forest. Be sure to stop by Inspiration Point Vista for a panoramic view of the lake!
Secret Cove Beach: A scenic, 0.9-mile loop trail will take you to Secret Cove Beach—a lakefront beach lined with granite boulders.
Sand Harbor: Sand Harbor is one of my favorite places to visit in Lake Tahoe—you can find boulders along the shore and crystal clear, turquoise water. During the warmer seasons, I recommend taking advantage of the kayak and paddle board rentals available onsite!
Kings Beach: Kings Beach is a popular lakefront beach in North Lake Tahoe. Picnic benches can be found throughout the beach, making it the perfect place to enjoy a packed lunch or snack with views of the lake.