Lake Tahoe. What can I say? It’s unrivaled in its natural beauty. Epic landscapes filled with snow-capped peaks and Alpine forests that lend way to a shimmering freshwater lake. It’s simply unmatched in this world. Recently, I paid a visit to this earthly haven and instantly fell in love with it. I never thought I could develop nostalgia for a place so quickly, but that’s precisely what happened.
Recently, while talking to a friend who was about to take his family out to Lake Tahoe, I was asked what I liked so much about it. ‘What I liked? You mean, what I loved?’ That was my response. Because, this destination that cradles the states of Nevada and California isn’t often described with the word ‘like’, but rather with the word ‘love’.
The truth is that people are passionate about this Utopian destination. So much so that 3 million visitors descend upon this lake every single year. Considering that you have a year-round population of roughly 30,000 residents, that’s quite the swell in people frequenting this sought-after vacation destination.
This popularity might be based on the fact that Lake Tahoe has dual seasons. Not only do people long to visit Tahoe in the winter, but it’s also heavily trafficked in the summer. In fact, I’m not quite sure which season I prefer. All I know is that if you haven’t yet visited Lake Tahoe, then you’re missing out on one of the world’s most worst-kept secrets.
Why Visit Lake Tahoe?
There are tons of reasons you should visit Lake Tahoe. Whether you already have a vacation planned or not, I wanted to convey the beauty that I uncovered here. It wasn’t just the mountains or the lake or the forests. It was everything. Literally, everything. It’s as if you stepped out of reality and stepped into a surreal environment.
It’s a place where Sugar Pines and White Firs spiral their way into the heavens. A place where Alpine forests blanket hillsides and mountains. Where snow-blanketed peaks tower and loom into the skies. It’s a natural beauty that will take your breath away. But that’s not the only reasons why you should visit.
Sitting here and thinking about it, I could come up with dozens of valid reasons why you should go here. In fact, you should take the entire family. As a husband and a father, I can imagine no other place on this earth that could likely compare to how visit-worthy this destination is.
However, before I give you the reasons, I wanted to give you an understanding of the area. Lake Tahoe is really the tale of two separate cities, each spread out across two states. Tahoe spills over California and Nevada, high up in the Sierra Nevadas. In fact, one of the reasons why this destination is likely so epic is because of its elevation.
Lake Tahoe sits at 6,223 feet (1,897 meters). It’s not at sea level. That much is certain. That might be why the air is so crisp and clean. History tells us that this lake was formed some 2 million years ago. The fresh waters are visibly turquoise and azure-hued. Oftentimes, you can see straight through it at some points.
I talk about the lake because it sits in this basin where its straddled on all sides by awe-inspiring mountains. In the summer, those mountains boast snow-capped peaks. In the winter, as you gaze out from golden-sanded shores, they are blanketed in snow. The air is so crisp and refreshing that it’s oftentimes intoxicating.
I’ll never forget my visit here. And as I sit here to convey that journey, a long to return to Lake Tahoe. During my visit, I rented a cabin in Lake Tahoe. However, there are plenty of resorts and hotels here as well. Still, be prepared to spend money. This is not a cheap place to visit. Yet, it is worth every single penny.
North Lake Tahoe vs. South Lake Tahoe
Okay, before I give you the low-down on why you should visit Tahoe, I wanted to give you the skinny on the location. I said that Tahoe is the tale of two cities before. And no words could be truer than this. It really is like two different places. Each part is unique. And each is more befitting for a different season and speed.
Is one better than the other? That might be subjective. But when talking about Lake Tahoe, most people talk about the north versus the south. Sure, there’s the east and the west shore as well. But they’re rarely referred to as such. Most simply refer to North Lake Tahoe or South Lake Tahoe. That’s pretty much where all the action is.
Now, if you’re deciding between North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe, here’s the scoop on North Lake Tahoe:
- North Lake Tahoe is serene and up-scale.
- It’s for people who are trying to avoid most of the crowds.
- Perfect for the winter, there are 10 peaks in North Lake Tahoe
- You’ll find less beaches in the north, making it less ideal in the summer
When it comes to South lake Tahoe:
- South Lake Tahoe is often more crowded
- This is an ideal destination for the summer with loads of beaches
- Prices are generally less expensive than North Lake Tahoe
- There are fewer peaks here, so it’s less of a winter destination
North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe are located roughly an hour or so away from each other, give or take 15 minutes depending on traffic. So, if you’re coming to spend time at the beaches in peak summer season and you’re looking to stay in North Lake Tahoe, be prepared for some serious traffic.
Reasons Why You Should Visit
There are so many reasons why you should visit Lake Tahoe. But I’m only going to cover 8 of the core reasons why I think you need to come here. Aside from being an epic destination, here’s why this is one of the best places on earth to spend some downtime, resting, relaxing and having just having plain old fun.
1. The Lake
Let’s get real. One of the biggest reasons you should come to Tahoe is for the lake itself. It’s awe-inspiring. It shimmers and glistens by day and night. The freshwaters are cool, even in the summertime, making it a resplendent haven for those hot July and August days. But the lake isn’t just for swimming. The reason why people visit Lake Tahoe isn’t just to swim in the lake. It’s also just to even look at it.
When you see the lake, you understand and realize the alluring power that it has on you. You’ll also come to discover something that I learned. You find that the lake fills you with an instant sense of nostalgia. You immediately want to return and keep visiting this area again and again, year after year after year. It truly is world-class.
2. The Snow
The snow in Lake Tahoe in the winter truly is a wondrous sight. A winter wonderland would aptly describe it. If you’ve never witnessed this, then you have something coming. The snow comes in waves here. Some weeks will be barren. Other weeks will be filled with blizzard conditions and several feet of snow. It all just depends on the weather systems and good old Mother Nature.
However, the snow isn’t just something pretty to look at. The snow means that you can enjoy all sorts of outdoor winter activities with the family. Snow means skiing and snowboarding. And there’s plenty of that to do in Lake Tahoe on your next visit here in the wintertime.
3. The Mountains
The mountains in Tahoe are epic. There are over 16 resort-filled peaks here. It’s perfect for the avid skier or snowboarder. But also suitable for the beginners. There are slopes to suite just about any level of expertise here, along with cross-country skiing for those who aren’t looking to carve up the slopes.
The mountains also set the perfect backdrop in Lake Tahoe. They surround the lake and huddle it from all sides and corners. For those with any semblance of a view, the full spectacle of this is mind-numbing.
4. The Properties
I had the pleasure of staying at a stunning modern cabin in North Lake Tahoe’s Northstar development. It was one of the only properties there that were ski-in ski-out. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to properties in Lake Tahoe. These are some of the finest cabins on earth. Not to mention condos and lakefront townhomes with indelible views.
The properties are definitely something worth noting here. They don’t come cheap. But if you’re looking for a true home-away-from-home experience in Lake Tahoe, then you shoot certainly opt for grabbing a short-term rental in this area.
5. The People
Lake Tahoe has that small town charm. You just can’t beat it. The people here are kind and friendly. They smile and say hello and thank you and make small talk. If you’re not from a small town, then you’re definitely in for a treat. It’s nothing like being in a big city whatsoever.
The people add to the charm of Tahoe. When I was there, I was blown away by the kindness that the locals exhibited. You don’t here people honking horns or see them getting upset. Maybe it’s just the simple fact that they’re in this Utopian-esque place. I mean, how much could you complain about when you live here full-time? You really do have to see it to believe it.
6. The Views
I seriously couldn’t get over the views during my stay. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen something so beautiful in my life. It truly is a sight that will wow even the most discerning individual out there. There’s something about the vistas and views from just about every vantage point that really personifies the glorious beauty of this earth.
Whether you’re hanging out in North Lake Tahoe atop one of the peaks or you’re on the golden sands of one of the beaches in South Lake Tahoe, the views are going to impress you every single time.
7. The Hikes
There are incredible hikes in Tahoe that you’ll surely never forget. And they aren’t just for avid hikers. There are flat jaunts that round the lake and some of the finger lakes that dot the area as well such as Spooner to Marlette Lake, around Eagle Falls and many others.
The 72-mile circumference of the lake also has trails that you can walk. You really can only do the hiking in the non-snowy months. Spring and summer are ideal for hiking around. Make sure to go so that you can catch the sunrise or the sunset. Early mornings are also the best time to avoid all the crowds, especially in peak months. Remember, with dual seasons, both winter and summer have their peak months.
8. The Weather
It never gets too hot in Lake Tahoe. And it never gets too cold. In fact, you won’t find many cabins with air-conditioners here. It’s just not needed. It’s an Alpine forest located at an elevation of 6,223 feet, which is high up. And that’s not to mention that most of the properties and peaks are much higher than that. All told, you could be dealing with elevations that soar as high as 10,891 feet (3,320) meters, which you’ll find at Freel Peak.
Aside from that, you will experience a week or so of hot weather (80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit) and a few weeks of moderately cold weather (depending on what you’re actually used to). However, it’s in those temperatures that most people cherish. In the summers, it’s the perfect climate for enjoying the freshwaters of Lake Tahoe on one of its golden-sanded beaches. In the winters, the temperature is ideal for carving up the slopes considering that there’s enough fresh powder lying around.