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Best Lake Tahoe Autumn Hikes for Leaf Peepers

Best Lake Tahoe Autumn Hikes for Leaf Peepers

Best Lake Tahoe Autumn Hikes for Leaf Peepers

Best Lake Tahoe Autumn Hikes for Leaf Peepers

Autumn is definitely one of the most prominent seasons for change, starkly reminding people of the passing of time as the leaves start changing colors or dropping, preparing for winter. And the Sierra Nevada is known for its expansive, still intact forest, offering miles and miles of towering trees that provide oxygen, shade, and habitat for local wildlife. Sugar pine, lodgepole, cedars, juniper, and Jeffrey pines are just a few of the many species of arbor surrounding the big cobalt blue alpine lake in the center. And autumn is an especially nice time to visit, when the quaking aspens start changing colors, green bushes turn into a fiery red, air temperatures start to drop, and there are a lot less people around. Therefore, if you are a fan of hiking in the autumn and interested in being a part of the changing landscape, here are some of my favorite treks to take in the vibrant colors and changing environment of Lake Tahoe before the snow starts blanketing the mountains:

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Spooner Lake (East Shore)

At the Highway 50/Highway 28 intersection, Spooner Lake is a small lake that acts as natural habitat for chickadees, ducks, and other wildlife. A 2-mile dirt trail borders the lake, and now is the best time to hike around it as you meander through aspens, go over creeks, and pass through a small meadow, all within view of Spooner. The entire Spooner Backcountry encompasses 50 miles of trails and 12,000 acres of forest, so you’re bound to see some beautiful flora hiking it in the fall.

The Flume Trail (East Shore)

On the far eastern end of Incline Village by the Tunnel Creek Café and newly built East Shore Trail is an access point for the Flume Trail that goes into the mountainside towards Marlette Lake and the Spooner Backcountry. A popular route for mountain bikers is one-way trek from Spooner Lake to the Tunnel Creek Station which is 14 miles long and climbs up to 8100 feet in elevation (Flume Trail Bikes offers mountain bike rentals and a shuttle service). For those that want something a bit lower key, park at the East Shore Trail parking lot and hike behind the Tunnel Creek Café, climbing above Incline Village and taking in the sweeping views of the lake. About 1.3 miles in, be sure to look out for Monkey Rock, an infamous natural landmark beloved by locals.

Blackwood Canyon (West Shore)

Not a whole lot is ever mentioned about Blackwood Canyon, located three miles south of Tahoe City on Highway 89 on Tahoe’s West Shore, but I have to admit that this has become one of my new favorite areas of the lake. It starts at the lake and creeps up through miles of trails on the mountainside meandering through pine trees deep within a canyon. As the only state-managed SNO-PARK on the North Shore, this area is more popular in the winter for snowmobiling, but I like it because it’s dog-friendly and always has plenty of parking close to Big Blue.

Hope Valley (South Shore)

Out by Kirkwood Mountain Resort, the four miles of hiking trails out in Hope Valley is quickly gaining popularity as one of the best places in the West for leaf peeping. As part of the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail, this small part of it lights up in September and October with bright aspens and willows that impress hikers with hues of red, orange, and gold. To get there, drive south through Meyers towards the Highway 89/Highway 88 junction and you’ll start to see trailheads that lead to illuminating colors in either direction. (However, many aspens are grouped together near Red Lake.) Be sure to end your day with a delicious drink at Wylder Hotel and come back in the winter to go snowshoeing. This area is what Visit California says has a “nearly psychedelic displays of yellows and oranges” in the fall.

Tahoma Meadows Bed & Breakfast (Tahoma, CA)

There are not many short-term accommodations on the sleepy West Shore of Lake Tahoe, but there is a paved bike path that wraps around the lake and dozens of hiking trails that stretch from Meeks Bay Resort all the way up to Dollar Hill, giving your pup plenty of opportunities to get out and take advantage of their Tahoe vacation. In the middle of the West Shore, Tahoma Meadows offers family and pet friendly cabins and cottages, each one surrounded by towering pine trees and lots of fresh air. Relax in a hammock by your pup after a mountainous trek or dip in Big Blue; all you need to do is sign an agreement to stay at a Tahoma Meadows dog friendly cabin.

Emerald Bay/Vikingsholm

Stay on Highway 89 going towards Tahoe’s southwest shore and eventually you’ll end up at the area’s most iconic landmarks- Emerald Bay. There are several hikes you can do all around here, everything from hiking the one-mile trek down to the Vikingsholm mansion and the water to strolling along the perimeter of the shoreline via the Rubicon trail, going up into Desolation Wilderness towards Fallen Leaf Lake, or climbing up 14,000 feet to Mt. Tallac. At the very least, stop at the Emerald Bay parking lot at the summit and take a picture of the lake from the nearby vista point…it’s beautiful in any season.

Mt. Rose Summit, Relay Peak, and Ophir Creek Trail (East Shore)

On Highway 431 between Incline Village and the Mt. Rose Summit, the Ophir Creek Trail in the Tahoe Meadows gently reach into pine trees and overlook part of the valley while also providing habitat for local wildlife. The loop is around three miles long and easy enough for all hiking abilities. (This is also a popular snowshoeing spot).

Go about a half-mile up to the Mt. Rose Summit and you’ll run into some more difficult terrain with equally amazing views. Head towards Relay Peak and immediately notice more of Lake Tahoe or take the more challenging route up to the summit of the 10,000-ft. Mt. Rose Proper to admire Reno and Carson Valley. The wildflowers and sagebrush emit a wonderful scent after a nice rainfall and now is the perfect time to enjoy the views before snow makes it unpassable.

There are so many great hikes in the Tahoe area, it’s hard to stick to just these. My advice is that when you drive around Lake Tahoe, stop and smell the pine trees and you may end up on a trail that unlocks more of nature’s gems. Enjoy!

The Best Pet Friendly Hotels in Lake Tahoe

Best Mountain Biking in the Sierras is Lake Tahoe

 

 

 

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The Best Pet Friendly Hotels in Lake Tahoe

The Best Pet Friendly Hotels in Lake Tahoe

The Best Pet Friendly Hotels in Lake Tahoe

The Best Pet Friendly Hotels in Lake Tahoe

Many people love to visit Tahoe to go hiking, biking, play in the lake, or recreate in the mountains. It’s no secret that there’s an abundance of outdoor activities that appeal to people of all ages. However, your furry friends probably want in on the fun, too!

Unfortunately, though, not all accommodations in Tahoe are dog friendly while others fully welcome your pets. That’s why if you are visiting Tahoe and want your four-legged best friend to come along, I’ve compiled a list of some top choices of where to stay in Tahoe with your dog:

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Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Stateline, NV)

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino located on the Nevada side of South Lake Tahoe draws those who are looking for multiple sources of entertainment, but not too many people know that it caters to pets as well. For a $65 per pet per night fee, your dog “can stay like a rock star too” and is given a toy, a water cup, and a treat at check-in. And if you want to truly pamper your pet, take it to the Hair of the Dog Pet Concierge located within the hotel.

Pine Cone Resort (Zephyr Cove, NV)

Over on the Tahoe’s East Shore, the Pine Cone Resort offers “heartfelt hospitality and classic Tahoe charm” for you and your pet. Around since 1955, the Pine Cone Resort has plenty of rooms that are dog friendly… seven of which have doggy doors adjacent to an enclosed dog run. The Resort can also give recommendations for affordable dog sitting services in the area, making it one of the most comfortable stress-free pet friendly hotels in Tahoe.

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe (Incline Village, NV)

On the northeastern shore of Lake Tahoe in the small town of Incline Village, the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe not only has a casino, a spa, and a fancy lakeside restaurant with its own private beach, but it welcomes pets and it’s right next to the Aspen Grove dog park. For a $40 per night pet fee, friendly pooches of all shapes and sizes are welcome to stay but must call (775) 886-6603 to ensure they have a spot.

Basecamp Hotel (Tahoe City, CA)

Crossing over the state line into California, the Basecamp Hotel is right on Highway 28 and touts that it’s bike, ski/snowboard, and pet friendly! This newly renovated hotel is within walking distance to restaurants, shops, Commons Beach, and a paved lakeside bike path. The hotel itself offers a continental breakfast, outdoor fire pits to relax at, and a bar that serves up local brews and gourmet hot cocoa. Fur babies are welcome to stay for an additional $40 per night fee.

Tahoma Meadows Bed & Breakfast (Tahoma, CA)

There are not many short-term accommodations on the sleepy West Shore of Lake Tahoe, but there is a paved bike path that wraps around the lake and dozens of hiking trails that stretch from Meeks Bay Resort all the way up to Dollar Hill, giving your pup plenty of opportunities to get out and take advantage of their Tahoe vacation. In the middle of the West Shore, Tahoma Meadows offers family and pet friendly cabins and cottages, each one surrounded by towering pine trees and lots of fresh air. Relax in a hammock by your pup after a mountainous trek or dip in Big Blue; all you need to do is sign an agreement to stay at a Tahoma Meadows dog friendly cabin.

Truckee-Tahoe Pet Lodge (Truckee, CA)

If you are looking for a place specifically for your pet, consider dropping your furry friend off to the Truckee-Tahoe Pet Lodge. The animals here are treated like royalty, with daily health checkups, a huge fenced in play area, and customized meal plans that meet your dog (or cat’s) dietary needs. Plus, the staff holds birthday parties and holiday celebrations and sends you pictures of their trip.

The manager at the Truckee-Tahoe Pet Lodge once told me that whenever a family drove into the Sierra Nevada, near the Donner Pass Road exit off I-80, their dog went crazy with excitement knowing that he was nearing his favorite place ever.

Other Notable Dog Friendly Accommodations in Tahoe

Spread throughout North Lake Tahoe, Tahoe Moon Properties has more than 50 dog-friendly vacation rental properties, many with private backyards or nestled up next to national forest land. Also on the North Shore, the Ritz-Carlton up by Northstar California accepts pets; it charges a $25 per night pet fee and a $150 nonrefundable pet deposit.

Close to the Heavenly Village and the casinos in South Shore, Doc’s Cottages understands how hard it is to leave your pup behind, therefore this highly rated hotel welcomes your pets. These cottages are clean, affordable, and they only charge $20 for one pet and $35 for two pets under 15 pounds per night.

Now go out and give your dog a Tahoe vacation it will never forget 😊

The Best Dog Beaches in South Lake Tahoe

The Best Dog Beaches in North Lake Tahoe

 

 

 

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Lake Tahoe Wildlife and How to Deal with Encounters

Lake Tahoe Wildlife and How to Deal with Encounters

Lake Tahoe Wildlife and How to Deal with Encounters

Lake Tahoe Wildlife and How to Deal with Encounters

By: Kayla Anderson

Many people move to Lake Tahoe to enjoy the great outdoors, to hike, bike, paddleboard, and nestle into the trees away from the concrete, traffic, and busyness of major cities. The expansive forest that surrounds Big Blue also accommodates various wildlife ranging from golden eagles to the Sierra Nevada’s notorious brown and black bears. Here are some of Tahoe’s mammals, birds, and amphibians who’ve called Lake Tahoe home well before we did:

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Lake Tahoe Bird List

There are more than 3 trillion trees in the world, and the Tahoe basin accommodates 3-4 dozen varieties of them which includes cedars, Jeffrey pines, red firs, and lodgepoles. These towering trees have been around for decades, creating comfortable natural aviaries for migrating birds. Here are some of my favorite Tahoe chirpers:

Mountain Chickadee: Widely known as the “cheeseburger” bird for their long drawn out song, mountain chickadees abound in the Tahoe Sierra. They are small, cute little pudgy birds with black heads and whitish-gray bodies with a song that carries far. The best place to see these Tahoe superstars is to hike up to Chickadee Ridge near the Tahoe Meadows.

Western Tanager: These birds are so strikingly beautiful that whenever I see them, I stop whatever I’m doing and watch them for a while. A little bit bigger than the mountain chickadee, tanagers have bright orange heads and yellow/black bodies. I’ve seen them up on the mountainside in North Lake Tahoe, sometimes just sitting on a fallen log close to the trail.

Yellow-Headed Blackbird: Sometimes mistaken for orioles, yellow-headed blackbirds look exactly as they sound…blackbirds with yellow heads. I’ve seen flocks of them together perched in bushes at the Bijou golf course in South Lake Tahoe

Bald Eagle: These magnificent birds have a commanding presence, and gigantic nests have been seen on the western shores of Lake Tahoe (Rubicon/D.L. Bliss area) and on the East Shore near Thunderbird Lodge. Golden eagles’ nests and red-tail hawks have also been spotted here, scanning the area for fish, critters, and have unfortunately even gotten ahold of available chickens and small off-leash dogs.

Hooded Merganser Duck: These fast swimmers are often seen in Lake Tahoe and show up while I’m paddleboarding. They have cute little reddish-brown mohawks and travel in packs. I’ve seen common mergansers as well and they look completely different… they have a sleek black and white sheen and intense eyes.

Other notable mentions: Some other birds that’ve popped up around my house include robins (who come out when we water our yard or after a fresh rainstorm) and Steller’s Jay- a type of blue jay that can be squawky and destructive. I’ve seen flocks of seagulls take over the East Shore of Lake Tahoe, and there’s a huge gang of mallard ducks known to rule the streets of Kings Beach and Tahoe Vista. Canadian geese, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds are frequent summer visitors, and dark-eyed juncos have also been spotted.

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Tahoe Bears

Seeing/dealing with black (or brown or blonde) bears in Lake Tahoe are common for those who’ve been here awhile, and those bears are hungry. There are more instances of Tahoe bears breaking into homes and even as I write this, I’m cleaning up a mess from a bear getting into my car last night because it happened to be the one time, I left it unlocked.

As more people move to and visit Lake Tahoe, the amount of trash has piled up causing bears to increasingly go down into the neighborhoods and unlocked dumpsters to scavenge for food. They immediately go for unsecured trash but have become smart enough to break into garages, houses, and unlocked cars.

When this happens in Nevada, “nuisance” bears get tagged by the Nevada Department of Wildlife and sometimes killed if they keep coming back and there have been too many complaints against them. And while black bears aren’t typically aggressive, they can attack when agitated.

That’s why nonprofit organizations such as the BEAR League formed to help educate people about how to keep their homes safe from bears and properly secure their trash to prevent bear/human interactions that end up getting bears killed. Locals are passionate about the bears and want to keep everyone- and everything- safe. While visiting Tahoe, help the bears in Lake Tahoe by doing your part to be bear aware…lock up your trash, your car doors, and your house at night so that bears don’t feel tempted to impede into your space.

Lake Tahoe Wildlife - ducks in winter.
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Tahoe’s Small Mammals and Critters

Sit outside on my back deck for a day and you’ll see three different species of squirrels running around (ground, tree, and gray squirrels that are the size of small cats) as well as a couple of families of chipmunks. The way the birds interact with these backyard foragers creates endless entertainment, but you have to make sure that there are absolutely no holes in your shed, garage, or enclosed space otherwise they’ll take over fast (along with the mice).

Coyotes, raccoons, and bobcats are also frequently spotted, which is why Tahoe dogs and cats must be indoor pets.

What to do When Finding an Injured Animal

Humans and animals maintaining a symbiotic relationship in Tahoe’s natural environment requires effort on our part, and sometimes we may encounter a wounded or abandoned animal. I’ve found a nest of baby chipmunks before and (using gloves) left them outside in a shoebox and watched the mom relocate her kids.

However, when finding an injured bobcat, coyote, bear, or other animal, it’s best just to call the number one source, the South Lake Tahoe animal shelter called Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care at 530-577-CARE. If the animal appears to be dangerous just leave it alone, but if it’s injured and orphaned then do your best to keep it warm, don’t feed it, and call the care center for further advice.

What to do If There’s a Bear Break-In

Generally, bears only try to break into a home, car, or garage if they smell food, so it’s best to try to keep things as locked up and neutral smelling as possible. Don’t ever leave food in your car and keep trash in locked bins or bear boxes. If a bear breaks into your home, call the BEAR League at 530-525-PAWS as they can provide information on how to avoid a future break in.

*For articles and updates regarding Lake Tahoe Bear activity:  California Fish and Wildlife: Bear Blog and newsletter Bear Naked Truth

Living in an area with an abundance of wildlife never ceases to amaze me and personally I feel like it’s one of the true joys of living here. Therefore, when I see a bear or a bobcat or a coyote, I try to keep a healthy distance and give them their space. Don’t try to approach them or feed them (as the BEAR League says, “A fed bear is a dead bear.”) If you are interested in learning more about other species of wildlife spotted in Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River Guide is also a great source. Now go out there and see what you can spot! ​

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The Main Marinas to Rent a Boat or a Jet Ski in Lake Tahoe

The Main Marinas to Rent a Boat or a Jet Ski in Lake Tahoe

The Main Marinas to Rent a Boat or a Jet Ski in Lake Tahoe

The Main Marinas to Rent a Boat or a Jet Ski in Lake Tahoe

By: Kayla Anderson

Stretching 12 miles wide and 24 miles long with a smattering of trees, boulders, and towns dotting its shoreline, there is plenty to see and do from a speedboat in Lake Tahoe. Bar hopping, visiting Emerald Bay, wakesurfing, looking at houses, and hydrofoiling are popular activities to participate in on the water. Or it’s easy just to spend a whole day just hanging out sunbathing on the boat and swimming in the crisp, cool massive blue drink when you get a good tan going on.

Whether you are visiting or have lived in Tahoe for years, getting out on the lake at least once in your life with all your friends is a must. Thankfully, there are plenty of marinas and businesses in Lake Tahoe who are around to help make that happen. We’d like to share some of biggest and best places to rent a boat and/or jet ski in the area, but first…

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Captain Matt Lund from Stellar Tahoe
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What you need to know before renting a boat

Driving a boat or a jet ski is not like driving a car, and some rental companies (like the Tahoe City Marina) require that you show proof of boating experience by showing a boater’s license or safety course certification. Be aware that you will be responsible for any damage to the watercraft (I once saw a family go out and immediately ram the boat’s $400 prop into a sandbar) and it’s good to be aware of any landmarks and how long it takes to get there and back (it takes at least an hour to get from Tahoe City to Emerald Bay via boat). Along with that, here are a couple of other requirements that most Lake Tahoe boat rental companies have in place:

  • Must be 18 years old to rent a boat and at least 16 years old to ride a jet ski on one’s own
  • Fuel is not included
  • Most boat rental companies are only open May-September

Now, here are Tahoe’s top marinas that let you get out on the water easily and safely:

Zephyr Cove Marina (Southeast Tahoe)

From Sea-Doo jet skis to its 36-ft. long pontoon boat that holds 12 people, the Zephyr Cove Marina has every kind of water toy you can imagine. It also keeps a fleet of 20-24 ft. Sea Rays and Malibu ski and wakeboard boats that can be rented out for around $1500 a day and wakeboards, wakesurf boards, and tubes are available for an extra cost. Must be at least 18 years old to rent a ski boat and 16 years old with a valid ID to drive a jet ski.

High Sierra Waterski School (West Shore)

Located on the West Shore near Hurricane Bay (which ironically has the smoothest water for wakeboarding and waterskiing), the High Sierra Waterski School keeps the largest fleet of Correct Craft Ski Nautiques in the nation. They have more than 20 ski boats in their quiver, those for rent ranging from $1140-$1240 per day depending on the size and features you’re looking for. They also rent jet skis and give waterski and wakeboard lessons.

Tahoe Sports at the Ski Run Marina and Tahoe Keys (South Lake Tahoe)

Operating out of two lakefront marinas on the South Shore, TahoeSports.com has all kinds of jet skis and powerboats to rent as well as takes people out parasailing and gives boat charters if they want to leave the driving to a professional. Powerboats that hold 6-13 passengers range from $169-$269 per hour.

Tahoe City Marina (Northwest Tahoe)

As one of the oldest marinas on Lake Tahoe, this harbor on the northwest shore of Big Blue is home of the Tahoe Gal cruise ship and the Tahoe Yacht Club. And right there on the dock within those boat slips adjacent to the Boatworks mall, the Marina rents out a 20-ft. and a 23-ft. open bow powerboats and a 22-ft. Catalina sailboat. Rental rates range from $105-$215 per hour and can support 6-10 people.

Other Noteworthy Tahoe Boat Rental Companies

There are other companies in Tahoe like North Tahoe Watersports operates out of Kings Beach and offers parasailing experiences and jet ski rentals, or Stellar Tahoe ran by longtime local Matt Lund who takes people out on his luxurious Formula 330 ss boat that floats in the Sierra Boat Company marina in Carnelian Bay. Full Throttle Tahoe also offers boat charters and wakeboarding lessons behind their Centurion boats; they also headquartered on the north shore of Lake Tahoe.

Some Ideas for a Food & Beverage Stop (for the passengers)

Best Places to Enjoy a Sunset Cocktail

Related Articles to get you getting on the water in Lake Tahoe under your own power.

Top 3 Spots to Rent a SUP or Kayak in North Lake Tahoe

Best Places to Rent a SUP or Kayak in South Lake Tahoe

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Three Unique Paddling Experiences to Have on Lake Tahoe

Three Unique Paddling Experiences to Have on Lake Tahoe

Three Unique Paddling Experiences to Have on Lake Tahoe

 

By: Kayla Anderson

Nestled in the heart of the Sierra Nevada where snow runoff from the surrounding mountains meets and melts in a pure blue alpine body of water known as Lake Tahoe, any way to get out on the lake makes for a memorable experience. However, many paddlers who visit may not realize that there’s more to do than just taking out a SUP or a kayak for an hour or so. Here are some must-do paddle experiences to check out while you’re in town:

  1. Go on a Clearly Tahoe LED Glow Night Tour (South Shore)

Based in the Tahoe Keys, just sitting in a Clearly Tahoe kayak is crazy because the completely transparent craft gives people a peek at what’s going on under the water, thanks to their clear bottoms.

Along with daytime eco tours, sunset, and pet-friendly tours that depart from the Tahoe Keys Marina in clear bottom kayaks, Clearly Tahoe experienced lifeguard-certified staff takes people out on LED Glow nighttime tours where one can cruise around the Tahoe Keys and catch glimpses of fish, milfoil, and other interesting features below the surface. Available to paddlers of all abilities, LED Glow tours are safe, peaceful, and something fun to do on Lake Tahoe when everyone else is at the casinos or in bed.

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LED Glow Tour with the Clearly Tahoe kayak company
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  1. Visiting in the beginning of the month? Take a Full Moon Kayak Tour with the Tahoe Adventure Company (North Shore)

Going out on Lake Tahoe under a full moon is also a surreal experience because not only is your paddle path lit up by the bright white light once the moon drifts over the mountain crest, but you can see thousands of stars visible due to the lack of light pollution in this somewhat remote area.

However, it’s always safest to go with a group when venturing out at night, and fortunately the Tahoe Adventure Company is there to lead the way. Launching from the Tahoe Vista boat ramp, professional guides take guests on a full moon kayak tour that ends with hot drinks and snacks on the beach afterwards. Full moon tours go out on the first of the month in the summer; the cost is $65 per person.

  1. Get some extra exercise in with a SUP Yoga Experience at Waterman’s Landing (North Shore)

Perched on a public dog-friendly beach is a café/paddleboard and kayak rental shop ran by professional paddlers Jay and Anik Wild. Along with renting out SUPs, kayaks, outriggers, and surf skis, Waterman’s Landing also hosts lessons, clinics, and special group tours for any type of paddling experience you want to have.

There are a few paddle outfitters in Lake Tahoe that promote on-the-water yoga experiences, but rarely are they located right on the lake. However, at Waterman’s Landing a yoga instructor is available to take paddlers out for private or group yoga classes where one can further test their balance on a board and playfully try new poses on a SUP.

Related Articles to get you Paddling on Lake Tahoe

Top 3 Spots to Rent a SUP or Kayak in North Lake Tahoe

Best Places to Rent a SUP or Kayak in South Lake Tahoe

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Top Destinations

From walking to the beach, to finding the nearest ski resort, to taking a day trip to some of the nearby destinations.  Check out the options!

Lake Tahoe is a magical place.  Surrounded by mountains with access to the crystal blue water, excellent trails, world class ski ressorts and more within the Tahoe basin.

Beyond any of the mountain passes lie many additional opportunities that are a relatively easy day trip.  Some are on your way to Lake Tahoe from the San Francisco Bay Area  such as the Sierra Foothills and Gold Country.

Others such as the former mining town of Bodie and the Bodie State Historic Park as well as Carson City, Reno, and even a little farther to Mammoth Lakes and Mono Lake offer plenty of interesting options.  As a day trip or for ideas on where to stop while exploring California and Nevada, check out some of our travel ideas.