Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America and the tenth deepest lake in the world. Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it straddles the border of California and Nevada. Alpine lakes are found at elevations generally above 5,000 feet.
Typically the water is much clearer than lakes at lower elevations due to the low water temperature which decreases the speed and amount of algae and moss growth. Lake Tahoe is also the second deepest lake in the USA trailing only Oregon's Crater Lake. The lake was formed about 2 million years ago as part of the Lake Tahoe Basin, with the modern extent being shaped during the ice ages.
During the summer, stunning Emerald Bay offers authentic Mississippi paddlewheel tours onboard the M.S. Dixie. Hiking is popular in this are too, we’d recommend the scenic Eagle Falls and Eagle Lake trailheads. If you’re an avid golfer a round at the Edgewood Golf Club, where the signature 17th hole is right by the beach, is a must. And there are a few beaches! Zephyr Cove Beach is a long, sandy cove ideal for sunbathing, swimming, beach volleyball or kayaking.
South Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Village offers shopping, dining, a movie theatre and Heavenly Gondola. The gondola offers the best summer views of the lake on its 12 minute, 2.4 mile ride. Step-out at the Mid-Station Observation Deck at 9,123 feet. Enjoy a bird’s eye view over Carson Valley, Desolation Wilderness and a rare shore-to-shore view of lake Tahoe. Continue on the gondola to Adventure Peak with plenty of dining, hiking and adventure options.
Driving the circumference of the lake, around 70 miles, is worth the trip. The route is dotted with quaint little towns, beaches and tons of places to dine and shop. You'll also come across Vikingsholm. Built in 1929 by Lora Josephine Knight, an affluent Midwesterner, as a summer home. Before starting construction, Mrs. Knight and her architect travelled to Scandinavia to research the design. Some parts of the 38-room mansion contain no nails or spikes based on the old-fashioned construction method used and most of the materials were found in Lake Tahoe. Interesting fact, Mrs. Knight is best known for building Vikingsholm, but she and her second husband Harry were primary backers of Charles Lindbergh's non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927.
Entertainment at Lake Tahoe is unparalleled and ranges from art and cultural events at Valhalla to the Harveys Outdoor Summer Concert Series that has featured artists such as Elton John, Lady Gaga, and Bruno Mars. Music festivals are held all year round, including SnowGlobe in the winter. The South Lake Tahoe casinos all feature everything you would expect in Las Vegas, only in a more intimate mountain setting. Gaming includes roulette, blackjack and poker, all surrounded by memory-making nightlife.
In winter South Lake Tahoe is home to 15 world-class ski resorts that feature an extensive choice of terrain for experts and beginners, all within a one-hour drive of each other. All of the resorts have excellent ski and boarding schools, along with equipment rental. The big three on the south shore of Lake Tahoe are Heavenly Mountain Resort, Kirkwood, and Sierra-at-Tahoe. Heavenly, the highest resort at Lake Tahoe and one of the premiere resorts in the nation provides unrivaled panoramas of Lake Tahoe and an awe-inspiring view of Carson Valley in Nevada. For non-skiers, there is snowmobiling, tubing, ice skating, dog sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and sleigh rides. For hardy fishermen, ice fishing keeps anglers happy during the winter.
To order your digital guide on South Lake Tahoe - click here
The north shore of Lake Tahoe, including Crystal Bay and Incline Village offers a 180 degree panorama that is as unique as it is beautiful. Scientists journey here to understand the water’s blueness and ensure that it remains an icon of pure alpine perfection. This entire area is awash with history as well. The Native American Washoe people date back as inhabitants at least 6,000 years. In 1844, American explorers Kit Carson and John Fremont were the first to ‘discover’ the area before the 1860s when silver was found in the Sierra Nevadas and the region prospered.
Mark Twain – then Samuel Clemens, travelled to Lake Tahoe in 1861 and it completely changed him. He arrived with the idea of benefiting from the land but soon realised that the preservation of what Mother Nature created was more important. Lucky for everyone, Mark Twain wasn’t the only one. Today Lake Tahoe is little different from when Mark Twain dubbed it "the fairest picture the whole earth affords."
Where you stay is the heart of your holiday. Location reigns supreme but do you prefer resort facilities or unique and boutique? Historic and old world or modern and shiny?
We aim to present choices across the spectrum but there are many hundreds of places to stay and not room to feature them all. Do speak to your Bon Voyage travel consultant and click the video for our take on this important topic.