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    Lake Tahoe: an incredible emerald lake on the border of California and Nevada

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    Martí Micolau

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    The states of California and Nevada share the spectacular Lake Tahoe, one of the most beautiful and visited lakes in the United States, as well as the second deepest in the United States after Crater Lake in Oregon. It will be incredible emerald color of the waters, which seems to be the result of a particular retouching; will be the enchanting setting of snowy mountains area of Sierra Nevada or the crown of boschi evergreen that surrounds the beaches sandy beaches of the lake; will be the surprising ones emerald water bays that open up in front of the eyes of those who walk the scenic drive running along the lakefront; will be i quiet villages and the luxurious ones summer residences that lie on the coast ... The reasons why Lake Tahoe attracts so many people are many and all very good.


    • Where is it and how to include it in an itinerary?
    • What to see in Lake Tahoe? On the road on the scenic drive
    • South lake tahoe
    • West Shore: recommended stops
      • Emerald Bay State Park: a pearl not to be missed
      • Scandinavian castles and captain legends ...
      • Tahoe City and surroundings
    • North Lake Tahoe: scenic beaches
    • East Shore: recommended stops
    • Lake Tahoe Tours: Best Organized Tours

    Where is it and how to include it in an itinerary?

    • Distance to Lake Tahoe and San Francisco: 3.15 hours approximately via I-80 E and US-50 E
    • Distance to Lake Tahoe and Sacramento: 2 hours via US-50 E
    • Distance to Lake Tahoe and Reindeer: 45 minutes processing NV-431 and I-580

    The lake is a bit off the beaten path of the West Coast, but it remains very likely that you will make it to the Lake Tahoe and San Francisco. You can do this by taking the classic rental car in San Francisco or with an organized tour that also includes a visit to Yosemite and Bodie.

    This map explains the geographic distance between Lake Tahoe and some classic West Coast stops

    If you have opted for the first option, you will also have noticed that the distance is considerable and requires a considerable deviation from the classic loops of the parks: in this sense it can be interesting to combine the visit of the lake with that of a ghost town such as Virginia City and then return south to begin a tour of southern Nevada in preparation for arrival in Las Vegas. But this is just an idea; another hypothesis is that which envisages Lake Tahoe as a stage of passage between Mono Lake and the Fly Geyser along our off the beaten path of the West Coast.

    What to see in Lake Tahoe? On the road on the scenic drive

    In this article we want to give you some tips on what to see in Lake Tahoe in a circular itinerary that goes from South Lake Tahoe to North Lake Tahoe along both coasts: the West Shore and the East Shore. There Lake Tahoe National Scenic Byway it is a wonderful panoramic road about 70 miles long that can be covered in 2.30 hours without stopping, still enjoying many spectacular views; however it is worth planning at least 5-6 stages to discover the beauty of this deep lake with incredible colors.

    The tour can also be done in just one day, but the ideal measure to enjoy the holiday in my opinion is 2 3-days, with overnight in Kings Beach or Incline Village (North Lake Tahoe) and South Lake Tahoe. If you are people from "lakes and mountains", you have material to stay there too a week, which in winter can easily turn into White week, given the large number of ski slopes in the area. However, we must be careful: in the winter period some roads can be closed for inconveniences related to atmospheric conditions.

    South lake tahoe

    The southern side of Lake Tahoe has the town of the same name as its main landmark South Lake Tahoe, the most touristic in the area. Here you will find the panoramic beach of Pope Beach, golf courses, exclusive lake-view resorts, mountain-style motels and casinos (as soon as, needless to say, you cross the border between California and Nevada).

    You can do the bathroom at Lake Tahoe? The average water temperature in the summer months is between 18 and 20 °, with slightly higher temperatures in August. For many Italian vacationers (well accustomed ...) these temperatures also discourage a quick swim, while Americans, on the other hand, in the warmer months dive into the water very willingly. If you are cold, avoid. If, on the other hand, you think cold water is tempering, bring your swimsuit.

    Not only that: South Lake Tahoe in winter is besieged by skiers and winter sports enthusiasts. FromHeavenly Mountain Resort (4080 Lake Tahoe Boulevard) part “The Gondola”, a gondola lift that takes you to the ski slopes of Heavenly. Don't worry: on beautiful summer days when the sky merges with the lake water, even those (like me) who can't even put on skis can get on the cable car and enjoy an unmissable Panorama on Lake Tahoe and on the surrounding granite peaks. There is another chairlift, the Tamarack Express, which leads to an even higher vantage point.

    South Lake Tahoe's main road junction is a Y-shaped junction where US-50 intersects CA-89 - this intersection is very busy during peak season, but you will have to deal with it to reach the Tallac Historic Site where, in addition to an interesting museum, there are some wonderful houses with gardens and historic buildings from the last century: in the summer months Guided tours are available in the properties and inside some venues, to see furnishings, period costumes and live historical re-enactments. Parking in the area is free and the adjacent beach is there Kiwa Beach, equipped with picnic tables and services.

    All accommodations available in South Lake Tahoe

    West Shore: recommended stops

    Emerald Bay State Park: a pearl not to be missed

    This small bay on the West Shore of the lake is so beautiful that it does not seem real: the crystal clear waters have the color of emerald, the shades between green and blue enchant the eyes of the beholder. You can look at it from the top ofInspiration Point which is practically along the road or leave your car in the crowded parking lots of Emerald Bay State Park and reach the beach via the paths that descend into the woods. From the main trailhead of the park you can also take the path that leads to the waterfalls called Lower Eagle Falls: you can also reach them from the Eagle Lake Trail Parking by descending directly on the rocks from the edge of the road, but it is dangerous.

    The beautiful rustic stone path Rubicon Trail runs along the coast of the bay to Emerald Point and continues further on to Rubicon Point, offering some observation points of exceptional beauty on the coves of the DL Bliss State Park: the views of the lake suddenly open up among the pines and show unforgettable sceneries.

    Scandinavian castles and captain legends ...

    Returning to Emerald Bay: a few meters from the beach in the heart of the bay is a curious building built in 1929, the Vikingsholm, a castle that for a long time was a summer vacation residence. As you can guess from the name, the Vikingsholm is built in Scandinavian style, and can be visited in the summer thanks to some guided tours.

    In front of the beach is located Fannette Island, the only island in the lake, reachable in kayak (also available to rent from Tahoe City). On the island you must also visit what remains of the "Tea House“, Which is said to guests the ghost of Richard Barter, also called "Captain Dick".

    Since 1862, for at least 7 years, Captain Barter, - who loved the roar of the Eagle Falls how much he loved to drink whiskey - he lived on this islet as caretaker of the residence of the pioneer Ben Holladay, who had entrusted him with the task: living in total isolation, he was also known as "The Hermit of Emerald Bay". are that he did not want to leave this corner of paradise even after his death, which took place in the waters of the lake after his boat ran aground on the rocks of Rubicon Point: the captain did not come back alive from the umpteenth night of alcoholic revelry in the Tahoe House in Tahoe City.

    Tahoe City and surroundings

    Traveling along the West Shore, before arriving in Tahoe City, you will find the Sugar Pine Point State Park, whose beach immersed in the evergreen forest is for those looking for a bit of tranquility after the chaos of South Lake Tahoe. There are campsites and cottages nestled in the woods: vacationers have their holiday homes near the dock where private boats are moored. Not to be missed inside the park is the Ehrman Mansion, a splendid summer residence with interiors in red wood, built on the shores of the lake in 1902 and today it can be visited thanks to guided tours.

    Those who love winter sports can reach the ski resort of Homewood: the chairlift is practically a stone's throw from the lake, at theHomewood Mountain Resort (5145 W Lake Blvd) at the foot of the mountain overlooking Tahoe on the western side. Not far from here is also the Fleur du Lac Estates, an exclusive lake house that was used as the setting for Fredo Corleone's death scene in The Godfather 2. However, the huge residence cannot be visited.

    Tahoe City, the town where Captain Dick spent his evenings, is an ideal stop for those who love shopping: al Cobblestone Center you can also buy or rent winter sports equipment to do on Mount Homewood and nearby Squaw Valley. An eno-gastronomic stop at the Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company (475 N Lake Blvd), right across from Commons Beach.

    All accommodations available in Tahoe City

    North Lake Tahoe: scenic beaches

    The North Lake Tahoe area has splendid as its spearhead Kings beach, a wide, well-equipped sandy beach on which in summer you can sunbathe after a daring swim with a view of the woods and mountains. To fill your stomach you will find seafood restaurants, steakhouses and various restaurants of American and Mexican cuisine. Kings Beach also has a good number of resorts and hotels to stay in.

    If you don't like crowded beaches at the lake either, I can advise you to go to a tiny cove that is hidden in a bay opposite the eastern district of Kings Beach, called Brockway. Is called Speedboat Beach and it is usually frequented by the inhabitants of the neighboring houses: the few parking spaces available are located along the surrounding roads (Speedboat Ave). The feature of this beach on the border of California and Nevada is the presence of large smooth rock formations with light colors on the shores of the emerald lake.

    All accommodations available in Kings Beach

    East Shore: recommended stops

    The east coast of Lake Tahoe is practically all in Nevada: a bit like it happens in the central areas of the state, the peculiar characteristic of this coast is undoubtedly the indomitable wild spirit of nature. Here you will find few tourist towns or bathing establishments, but in exchange you will do miles and miles of scenic road. Incline Village is the last frontier of a comfortable and classy holiday, after which it is advisable to make the following stops:

    Logan Shoals Vista Point
    Sand Harbor State Park
    Memorial Point Scenic Overlook
    • il Memorial Point Scenic Overlook perfectly represents what I was talking about: well signposted and equipped with independent parking, this observation point 4 miles from Incline Village allows you to see the lake in all its magnificence. Descend down to the smooth boulders that shore up the shore and take a moment to enjoy all this beauty.
    • il Sand Harbor State Park it hosts the best equipped sandy beach on the East Shore, and in summer there are many people who jump into the water, attracted by the crystal clear bottom of the lake. You can spread the towel on the sand or reach the white stones that surround this small enchanting cove. Just a mile south of the beach is one of the most popular photo spots in the area: Bonsai Rock, a rock with a particular shape guarded by a bonsai. There is no dedicated parking, so you will have to stop your car on the roadside.
    • Logan Shoals Vista Point: after over 10 miles of woods and mountains, you will have to wait until you get to Glenbrook to return to the lakefront, but you will find yourself at a much higher altitude in return. The pitch where to stop the car is not well signposted, but make sure you don't miss the Logan Shoals Vista Point, from which you can see the Tahoe from above in a fascinating natural setting of trees and rocks overlooking the lake. Sunsets are unmissable from here, with Homewood peaks towering over the West Shore in the distance. If you don't want to miss this wonderful vantage point, count about 1.3 miles past the Glenbrook Fire Station, located on the opposite side of the lake.
    • Cave Rock: thank goodness it is impossible to avoid this spectacular tunnel carved into the rock.
    • the beach of Zephyr Cove it is no more beautiful or less beautiful than those mentioned so far, but it is important to mention the pier in the center of the bay. From here the cruises on the lake depart on board M.S. Dixie II, the unmistakable red and white boat that made the Lake Tahoe Cruises (760 US-50, Zephyr Cove). You can also have dinner on the boat's restaurant.
    • Indeed, a trip like this can only make you hungry. To round off the Lake Tahoe tour in style, put the address 900 Ski Run Blvd (Ski Run Marina) in the navigator: you will arrive at Riva Grill, a restaurant and bar famous for its cocktails (one above all, the Wet Woody). Order something to eat and enjoy one last time the view of the lake crowned by the Sierra Nevada.
    Cave Rock
    Zephyr Cove
    Riva Grill

    Lake Tahoe Tours: Best Organized Tours

    If you don't intend to visit Lake Tahoe on your own but want to buy one organized tour, I point out the following packages:

    • Lake Tahoe Guided Photography Tour: you can choose between two itineraries, including the complete loop of the lake. The good news is that if someone wants to take home a lot of photos taken from the best spots, this guided photo tour is ideal. Not only will you be able to take your photos with the advice of an expert who will tell you what to see in Lake Tahoe, but in the price you will also receive a CD containing the high resolution photos of a professional photographer who will follow you all the way.
    • Emerald Bay Helicopter Flight: I have already revealed to you which are the best spots from which to see the Emerald Bay spectacle, but perhaps the best perspective is enjoyed from the top of the helicopter that takes off from South Lake Tahoe airport for a 10 minute flight tour. In addition to the Emerald Bay, you can also see other splendid views of the lake from above, as well as the adjacent Fallen Leaf Lake, the Vikingsholm e Fannett Island.

    All activities available at Lake Tahoe


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