Lake Tahoe is awesome! Beginning in late autumn and continuing through the winter and spring, the Sierra Nevada mountain region becomes a winter wonderland. Snow is measured in feet, not inches, and a normal winter will see accumulations of 30 to 40 feet in the higher elevations.
Winter can last up to six months in the mountains, which is great news for winter sports enthusiasts. The temperatures stay relatively mild, usually above freezing during the day and only dropping into the 20s at night. During most days, the sun shines and adds the perfect finishing touch to the ideal winter vacation.
One of the highest, largest, deepest, cleanest and coldest lakes in the world, 1000 foot deep Lake Tahoe is situated at a mile high elevation in an alpine bowl of forested granite peaks. The drive around the entire circumference of Lake Tahoe is 72 miles in length and takes about three hours. It is recommended during the summer months only. During the winter, Highway 89, which runs along the west shore and connects South Tahoe and Tahoe City closes when there is too much snow. A delightful alternative to driving around the lake is to view it from a paddle wheeler on a summer cruise.
The early-mid years of the 20th century saw tremendous building and deforestation in the Lake Tahoe area. The building boom was brought under control in the 1960’s, and 85% of the land is now protected from development. The undeveloped land is owned either by the state or federal governments, and has been turned into National Forests and State Parks, further enhancing the appeal of this spectacular place.
The Lake Tahoe region straddles the Nevada/California border. The state line cuts through the lake lengthwise, so that the western shore is in California; the eastern shore in Nevada and some properties situated north and south of the Lake are in both States. One such hotel even has a dotted line running through its rooms to indicate in which State occupants are located.
During normal snow years, many ski resorts are open by Thanksgiving and some even operate through July 4. As a result, summer visitors can ski in the morning and enjoy a pleasant afternoon of river rafting. During any lulls in snowfall, ski resorts make snow. Most resorts have installed sophisticated snowmaking equipment on a large percentage of their terrain.
The North and South Lake Tahoe areas have the greatest concentration of ski resorts in North America, with 15 alpine resorts and 12 cross-country resorts offering a wide range of terrain and level of expertise. For the novice skier or snowboarder, lessons are offered at most of the resorts.
Also offered are packages, which include rental equipment, maps, lift tickets or trail passes, along with lessons.
Other popular activities include sleigh rides, dog sled rides, snowshoeing, ice skating, snowmobiling in the fall, winter, and spring; and in the summer: golf, hiking, bicycling, fishing, boating, ballooning, and river rafting. Superb casino gaming and entertainment are available year round. The Olympic games and World Cup skiing have both been hosted by Lake Tahoe. It is a world-class destination.