Unique South Lake Tahoe Summer Activities

Unique South Lake Tahoe Summer Activities

Unique South Lake Tahoe Summer Activities

Lake Tahoe is a popular place to come in the summer to get away from the California valley or Reno desert heat that subliminally urges people to head to high ground seeking cooler temperatures, peace and solace near the chilly picturesque lake.

Therefore, as kids get out of school and you start planning your summer vacations, consider South Lake Tahoe- not only a hotspot for casinos and gaming but proves to have something for everyone in the family from catching some trout in in a stocked pond to kayaking under the night sky in a completely clear kayak. For some unique South Lake Tahoe summer activities to enjoy while not getting roasted on the beach, out on the water, or hitting up the nightclubs, consider these six options to create unforgettable memories for everyone in your party:

Go Up, Up, and Above the Water with Lake Tahoe Balloons

As the only hot air balloon operation that launches and lands on Big Blue, Lake Tahoe Balloons offers an unforgettable experience at 1600 feet. At the break of dawn, people who have reserved their spots for a hot air balloon ride gather at the Tahoe Keys Marina and after being greeted by knowledgeable and friendly staff are led to a specially made pontoon boat called the Tahoe Flyer. While enjoying coffee and snacks, the crew blows up the balloon on the upper deck, making a basket of a Lake Tahoe Balloon that holds up to 16 people stay upright while the highly knowledgeable and experienced captain points out all the lake’s most interesting features.

Once the balloon is ready, people climb in and float over the water on par with Mt. Tallac, Captain Sheldon pointing out small lakes in Desolation Wilderness and what lies beyond the Tahoe area as boat captain Greg Collard follows the hot air balloon to catch it in a safe, controlled landing.

This is a great activity to do for honeymooners, those celebrating an anniversary, or wanting to cross a hot air balloon ride off your bucket list. Lake Tahoe Balloons takes people out on scenic flights over Lake Tahoe May 8-October 17 and over the Minden/Gardnerville/Carson City area in the winter months. A Classic Tahoe Flight costs $299 per person and includes a sparkling wine toast at the end.

Take a Gondola Ride Up to the Epic Discovery Center at Heavenly Mountain Resort

Even though the snow may have all melted off the mountain come July or August, the Heavenly Village and mountain resort located smack dab in the middle of South Lake Tahoe is still as bustling as ever. At the forefront of all of the shops, the Heavenly gondola whisks people up the mountain to give people incredible aerial views of the lake; it’s also one way for skiers and snowboarders to access ski trails at higher elevations in the wintertime.

Heavenly reopens in the summer months of July, August, and September, allowing people to take the 2.4-mile ride up to its Tamarack Lodge and stop at the mid-mountain Observation Deck if they’d like to take photos, grab a coffee, or a souvenir. A Scenic Gondola lift ticket also includes access to its Epic Discovery Center at the top of the mountain featuring ziplines, challenge courses, an alpine mountain coaster, hiking trails, and other activities to keep the family entertained and active.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench in certain Tahoe activities, Heavenly plans to reopen the resort safely for daily summer activities, which will include access to its hiking trails, the Ridge Rider Mountain Coaster, and Tamarack Lodge which serves food and drinks.

 

Heavenly Mountain Coaster

Video Courtesy of Heavenly Mountain Resort Mountain: Information & Tickets
 

Peddle the Gang Around Town on a Multi-Person Surrey Bike

For an affordable fun low-impact daytime activity to do with your family or friends, consider getting a surrey bike from the Tahoe Bike Company to cruise around in for a little while. These multi-person bicycles are one of the best ways to see and experience South Lake Tahoe via the city’s extensive interconnected paved bike path that runs from the beach to Stateline.

Located on Harrison Avenue next to the Lakeview Commons Park and beach, Tahoe Bike Company is conveniently located near restaurants, shops, and a surrey bike ride away from Ski Run Marina and the casinos. A single 2-seater surrey bike is $35 per hour or $125 to take out for an entire day, while a 4-pedal surrey bike is $45 per hour/$165 per day. The Tahoe Bike Company also leases electric bikes, beach cruisers, hybrid comfort bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes, and tandem ones by the hour, the half-day, or the full day.

Catch a Fish with the Family at Tahoe Trout Farm

Off in a quiet neighborhood of South Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Trout Farm on 1023 Blue Lake Avenue has been in continuous operation since 1946 and is considered a historic property in the City. It’s also still one of the best places to take the family. Open April through September from 10am-6pm, owner Jim Vallier stocks his two well-circulating ponds with rainbow trout that love to bite, hailed from the Mt. Lassen Trout Farm. What makes this place especially great is that bait and tackle are free of charge, and kids are given a simple Tom Sawyer fishing pole to use to hook the big one (the Tahoe Trout Farm charges per fish based on length and anglers are welcome to take their catch home). No fishing license is required, and anyone is welcome to cast a line. Tahoe Trout Farm staff will even clean your fish and put it on ice for the trip over to the grill or kitchen. The Valliers can even recommend restaurants that will cook your fish, and they provide recipes on the Tahoe Trout Farm website to get ideas for tasty dishes.

For many young visitors to Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Trout Farm is the place where they caught their first fish (it’s where I caught my first fish) and then they brought their own kids back to Tahoe to keep the tradition alive. It’s best to get there early (before 10am), otherwise finding a parking spot and borrowing a fishing pole might be a little tricky. Visit Tahoe Trout Farm for more information before you visit because hours of operation may have changed since the pandemic.

surrey-bike-by-kayla-1
Tahoe Trout Farm - things to do with kids

Check Out a Magic Show at The Loft

Located within the always going-off Heavenly Village, The Loft Theatre is the perfect place to catch a live magic show and a meal. Magic Fusion shows take place Wednesday-Sunday (most of them start at 7pm) and delight and inspire people of all ages. Hosted by world-class illusionists and magicians, they are experts at tricking your mind and keeping you on the edge of your seat in a fast-paced, high-energy intimate setting. Ranked as the #1 show in Lake Tahoe, this is a great experience to enjoy with friends, your date, or the kids at one of the early G-rated performances.

Its TASTE restaurant also serves American tapas handcrafted by chef Frank Trotta featuring culinary delights that pair well with a cocktail or glass of wine. On certain nights, The Loft’s Lounge features live music, trivia, and even risqué After Dark magic shows for adults ages 18 and up. For hours of operation or to make a reservation, visit www.thelofttahoe.com.

Paddle Under the Stars with Clearly Tahoe Kayak Tours

Many people love Lake Tahoe for its transparent waters that create an unusually beautiful effect when the granite rocks and golden sand meet the crystalline snow runoff on Big Blue’s shoreline. Going beyond that, if you like to explore portions of the lake via paddle board or kayak, have family/friends in town, and want to get an up-close view of this natural magnificence, then consider going out in a translucent kayak so that you get the full 360-degree view above and below the water.

Based out of the Tahoe Keys (with another location at Edgewood Tahoe for its guests), Clearly Tahoe provides guided tours in Lake Tahoe in completely transparent kayaks. Its tours range from eco adventures that go into the Tahoe marsh giving people the chance to see birds, beavers, and perhaps a coyote or a bear to nighttime stargazing tours with LED lights illuminating the way. Tours are open to paddlers of all ages (5+) and abilities, and Clearly Tahoe can accommodate groups from 2-80 people. Tour guides are knowledgeable, friendly, and will likely tell something about Lake Tahoe that you never knew before. South Shoreline and Scenic Shoreline tours are 1.5 hours long and range in price from $79-$198 per boat. Eco Discovery and Tallac View Sunset tours are 2 hours long, only available in the summer, and range from $59-$238 per boat. Three different types of night tours are offered, as well as an Eco LED Tour suitable for intermediate paddlers.

There’s Always Something to See and Do in South Lake Tahoe

While the abundance of casinos, beaches, forests, and fresh water is the main reason for people to come to Lake Tahoe, hopefully during your visit you can make some time to experience something new.

Water

Guide to Paddling Lake Tahoe in Any Season

Guide to Paddling Lake Tahoe in Any Season

Paddleboarding, kayaking, or doing any type of human-powered activity for however much time you have on Big Blue can give you an amazing workout, but it’s good to know when the best time of the year to paddle is and how to stay safe out on the water.

Activities

Travel

Guides

Lake Tahoe Statistics | Lake Tahoe Facts

Lake Tahoe Statistics | Lake Tahoe Facts

The Lake Tahoe water temperature could be classified as “refreshing.” While a common belief is that lake Tahoe was formed by the collapse of a volcanic crater, according to the U.S. Forest Service the Tahoe basin was actually created due to faulting related to the tremendous uplifting of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Tips for Working a Seasonal Summer Job in Lake Tahoe

Tips for Working a Seasonal Summer Job in Lake Tahoe

Tips for Working a Seasonal Summer Job in Lake Tahoe

Tips for Working a Seasonal Summer Job in Lake Tahoe

By: Kayla Anderson

When school ends and it’s time for summer break, one of the best places to escape the heat is to a mountain town that offers lots of outdoor activities and opportunities for fun. And situated between Northern California and Nevada’s western elbow is the perfect summertime destination called Lake Tahoe. 

There are many reasons why people love to vacation here….at an elevation of 6,220 feet, Lake Tahoe averages 80-degree Fahrenheit temperatures during the day and it drops down to a comfortable 60 degrees at night. In the center of it all is a crystalline blue body of water that’s fun to paddleboard, parasail, or just go boating in.

With the influx of visitors that come into Tahoe every summer, local businesses must ramp up their staff to meet the demand. Therefore, hospitality jobs abound as employers try to fill positions at their summer retreat spots, everything from bringing on beach attendants to restaurant servers to blackjack dealers.

Along with being in beautiful Lake Tahoe, many employers offer their staff additional perks such as flexible hours, end of season parties, opportunities for development, and more. 

So how do you get a coveted Tahoe summer job? Many companies find their seasonal employees through job fairs at nearby universities, through a recruiting service, or by posting on a job board. Therefore, if you’re ready to pull the plug and start your dream job in a fun relaxing mountain community, here are some tips to make your (working) Tahoe vacation a reality:

Start with Coolworks.com

Most of the major tourism companies in Tahoe have jobs posted on CoolWorks, each with a multitude of positions open. Summer in Tahoe generally starts Memorial Day Weekend in late May and runs through Labor Day in early September. It’s an unspoken rule that everyone who is hired is expected to work Fourth of July, and don’t even think about going to Burning Man if you want to come back to Tahoe the following summer. Tahoe businesses try to hire their staff as early in the season as possible, but even as of mid-June companies like Aramark (Zephyr Cove Resort), Squaw Valley, the Tahoe Restaurant Group, and Vail Resorts (Kirkwood, Heavenly, and Northstar) were still hiring.

Coming in from another country? Here are some good job websites for international workers

Due to seasonality of wintertime sports in Lake Tahoe, many local ski resorts have continuously brought in employees for three months or so a year on a J-1 student visa or through the H2B visa. However, many of those same employers have also extended their operations for the summer months and need employees for the summer season as well.

For instance, Homewood Mountain Resort on the West Shore hires employees who can work in mid-March at the ski resort and/or June-September for its summer positions (since it also operates a marina and the West Shore Café). When coming in from another country, these travel sponsors work with foreigners to help place them in jobs in Lake Tahoe:

  • WorkUSE (for residents in Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Argentina, and Peru)
  • CCUSA (the official sponsor of the US Department of State J-1 visa program)
  • InterExchange (An American Summer Exchange program for Americans travelling abroad or within destination areas inside the U.S.)
  • CIEE (a nonprofit study abroad program that works in North America, Africa, Middle East, Asia Pacific, Caribbean, Latin America, and Europe)
  • Cultural Homestay International (CHI)– Also a United States J-1 visa sponsor, CHI works with families, high school, and university students from all over the world to provide life-changing experiences

 

Resources for people who live within the U.S.

If you live in the United States and are simply looking for a change of scenery for a summer, starting your Tahoe job hunt on CoolWorks is a good start but you can also just apply to a company directly.

Many of the bigger companies also offer opportunities of advancement and possible relocation- many of the South Shore casinos have Las Vegas affiliates and the Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz Carlton, and Destination Hotels have properties all over the world.

Along with the above hotels and casinos, smaller places such as the Tahoe Biltmore, Crystal Bay Casino, Mourelatos Lakeshore Resort, and GarWoods are known to have mass job openings as summer comes around. These types of hospitality jobs are also often found on Craigslist or Indeed.

A Note About Housing and Accommodations

It’s no secret that finding housing in Lake Tahoe can be challenging, but in my experience, once I’ve gotten a job then my employer has offered some insight as to what options are available. Every employer seems to handle accommodations differently, but when they can provide housing then they are usually quick to let you know.

For instance, Homewood and Kirkwood offers housing to first-time workers and travelling students with public transportation available, but many others require you to do your own research to see what’s out there. CoolWorks provides a section in their job descriptions about what the room and board status is, but it’s also good to go on Craigslist or some of the Facebook Tahoe housing threads to see what’s out there. Be prepared to find accommodations on your own, and then be pleasantly surprised when things work themselves out.

After a Summer (or a Winter) in Tahoe, You’ll Never Want to Leave

I moved to Lake Tahoe in December 2006 to work as a lift operator at Diamond Peak Ski Resort for a winter season and then never left. I eventually moved my way up into a marketing position there, then worked at Mt. Rose, and created a permanent life here. But it was being a lift operator where I made friends from all around the world and fell in love with the mountain lifestyle. Tahoe is a great place to be if you like fresh air and room to roam, and after a couple of months you’ll probably find that you won’t want to leave.

Northstar Summer Jobs image 2021

Snow

Ski Resort Guide | Lake Tahoe – California – Nevada

Ski Resort Guide | Lake Tahoe – California – Nevada

The Lake Tahoe is home to an amazing array of ski areas. With ski resorts on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe as well as the California side there is something for everyone. Which resort is best for families? What resort has the most vertical? and how much are the lift tickets at each of the Tahoe ski resorts? This ski area comparison covering Lake Tahoe – California – Nevada will help you plan your visit.

Activities

Unique South Lake Tahoe Summer Activities

Unique South Lake Tahoe Summer Activities

Try some of these unique summer activity ideas for your visit to South Lake Tahoe. From unique kayak tours on Lake Tahoe to Gondola and Balloon rides there are many unique activity options for the family.

Travel

Ski Resort Openings + Health & Safety Protocols

Ski Resort Openings + Health & Safety Protocols

Since ski resorts are about to resume operations as temperatures continue to stay cool, this what you need to know before trying to ski or ride at one of Tahoe’s main ski resorts this winter during the coronavirus pandemic.

Guides

Guide to Paddling Lake Tahoe in Any Season

Guide to Paddling Lake Tahoe in Any Season

Paddleboarding, kayaking, or doing any type of human-powered activity for however much time you have on Big Blue can give you an amazing workout, but it’s good to know when the best time of the year to paddle is and how to stay safe out on the water.

Guide to Paddling Lake Tahoe in Any Season

Guide to Paddling Lake Tahoe in Any Season

Guide to Paddling Lake Tahoe in Any Season

Tips to Paddling Lake Tahoe Any Time of Year

 

A lot of people visit or move to Lake Tahoe for access to the expansive forest that surrounds one of the clearest, bluest, most photogenic alpine bodies of water in the United States. It leaves a lasting impression on everyone, especially if you can get out on the water.

Paddleboarding, kayaking, or doing any type of human-powered activity for however much time you have on Big Blue can give you an amazing workout, but it’s good to know when the best time of the year to paddle is and how to stay safe out on the water.

Lake Tahoe’s Paddling Seasons

Paddling Tips for Spring

  • Paddling Tips for Spring: My favorite times of the year to paddle in Lake Tahoe are in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall because most of the time you have the lake to yourself. In the months of March, April, May, and early June, the air temperature tends to warm up, but the water is still shockingly cold. That’s why it’s important to go on a nice calm and sunny day and know when a freak snowstorm is expected to blow in. Always check Windfinder to see what the weather is going to be like before your session, always paddle with a buddy, and dress in warm, dry-fit layers.

Tahoe Winter Paddling Tips

  • Paddling Tips for Winter: Many of the kayak and SUP rental operations close after Labor Day in September as the weather shifts and people start to dust off their skis and snowboards and think about season passes. However, there can be the occasional dry spells in December and January that get people thinking about the warmer months and if you are an intermediate/expert waterman (or woman) who is used to swimming in near freezing 42-degree Fahrenheit water, then paddling Lake Tahoe in the winter may not be an issue for you. For these hearty mermaids (and mermen), Waterman’s Landing café and rental shop in Carnelian Bay is open year-round. People are welcome to lease out kayaks or SUPs if they have experience, the air temperature is warm enough, they know how to swim, and the lake is expected to remain calm. Resident Tahoe Waterman and owner Jay Wild makes the call daily on whether it’s safe to go out.
Watermans Landing Winter boards

Paddling Tips for Summer

  • Paddling Tips for Summer: No matter what kind of winter ski season it has been, when the snow melts wildlife reappears and then residents and second homeowners begin emerging with their boats and heading towards the water. Early in the morning before the winds pick up is the best time to go out, but again it’s always best to check Windfinder to see what the weather is going to do. Since there tends to be more activity with motorized boats and jet skis on the water, it’s best to stay within 200 feet of the shoreline and watch out for the subsequent waves. Most paddle board and kayak rental shops around Lake Tahoe open Memorial Day Weekend and close Labor Day, late May to early September.

Fall Paddling Tips 

  • Paddling Tips for Fall: My favorite time to paddle is in the September/October months when the water is still the warmest it is going to be for that year. It does get a little chillier and the days start getting shorter, but as kids go back to school there tends to be less motorized boats on the lake. In these months when you’re likely to be the only vessel on Lake Tahoe, it’s good to be extra cautious by taking a buddy with you or letting someone know where you’re going to paddle and how long you expect to be gone.
Baby paddle Tahoe

Water Safety Tips and Regulations for Paddling Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a big, cold body of water surrounded by mountains and the weather can change drastically even within an hour. That’s why it’s always good to be prepared by reading the forecast before you go and aware of your surroundings (and the wind line) while in the water. While paddleboarding in Lake Tahoe, you’re required to have both a PFD (Personal Flotation Device, aka a life jacket) and a leash on your board. If you’re an adequate swimmer then you don’t have to wear the life jacket, but you must always have the leash attached.

It’s also a good idea to bring a dry bag to keep your phone, wallet, keys, and any clothing layers that you end up shedding (I always prepare myself for ending up in the water at some point). Remember to stay hydrated, too… while the lake water is clean, I always bring a water bottle/pouch because it’s still the freshest- and easier to drink out of.

To learn more about the lake itself, check out Lake Tahoe Statistics | About Lake Tahoe

Baby on Kayak Tahoe
SUP Crystal Bay rocks NV border
Kayak break w Alibi

Where to Rent a Kayak or Stand Up Paddle board (SUP)

At 24 miles long and 12 miles wide, Lake Tahoe is bigger than it looks, and it can take the average paddler 7-12 hours (or longer) to paddle from the North Shore directly to the South Shore (but it’s not that safe to be caught in the middle of the lake in case something goes wrong or the weather changes and you’re miles from the shoreline). Fortunately, due to its sheer size, there are a lot of places likely close to where you are staying that rent paddleboards, kayaks, surf skis, and outriggers. Apart from Waterman’s Landing that is open year-round, check out some other options for kayak, stand up paddleboard (SUP) rentals or even lessons and tours HERE.

 

Additional Paddling Resources

Summertime is the best season to paddleboard or kayak in Lake Tahoe because it’s when the warmest and most comfortable if you happen to fall in the water. But even then, the weather can still be unpredictable. Download the Windfinder app or check the weather report on NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) for the most accurate forecasts of what the water temperature, air temperature, wind, and climate is going to be like on any given day in the part of the lake you want to paddle.

If you’re looking for routes to paddle, check out the Lake Tahoe Water Trail guide. It features out-and-back paddles from a particular beach, point-to-point paddles, 7-day trips, 1-day trips, and more, all around the 72-mile circumference of Big Blue. Campgrounds, beaches, landing sites, and additional safety tips are also included.

Lessons, Events, and Tours

Along with human-powered watercraft rentals, some places like Waterman’s Landing also offer lessons, women-specific clinics, on-the-water yoga classes, and all kinds of other unique adventures. Clearly Tahoe in South Lake Tahoe does daytime, stargazing, and ecological tours in their translucent kayaks so that you get a full 360-degree view of the what’s going on above and below the water’s surface. In North Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Adventure Company takes visitors on full moon and sunset tours out of the Tahoe Vista Recreation Area.

If you’re a more serious paddler, keep the Tahoe Paddle Racing series (formerly known as the Tahoe Cup) in mind. There are usually 3-4 racing events in any given summer complete with 3–6-mile races, a downwinder race, and ending the season with the highly-anticipated Tahoe Cup Lake Crossing. Races are usually held in June, July, and September, and participating in a Tahoe paddle race is a great way to make new friends, test your ability, and have fun on the water.

Tahoe Safety Reminder

Lake Tahoe is a great place to paddle but be sure that you’re fully prepared to have the best experience. And once you get into it, you’ll find that paddling any kind of craft provides a great low impact workout that gives you a new appreciation of this unique environment.

Lake Tahoe Kayak & SUP Rental Locations

Company Location Website Link Rental Services Rates (hourly starting)
Kayak Tahoe South Lake Tahoe, CA (Emerald Bay State Park) Kayak Tahoe Kayak, SUP $25
Waterman's Landing Carnelian Bay, CA Waterman's Landing Kayak, SUP, Outrigger, Lessons, Events $28
SUP Tahoe South Lake Tahoe, CA SUP Tahoe SUP $30 (2 hours)
Clearly Tahoe South Lake Tahoe, CA Clearly Tahoe Kayak, Tours N/A
Tahoe Adventure Company Tahoe Vista, CA & Incline Village, NV (Sand Harbor State Park) Tahoe Adventure Company Rentals Kayak, SUP, Mountain Bikes $25
Wild Society Kings Beach, CA Wild Society Rates Kayak, SUP, Lessons, Tours $60
Adrift Tahoe Kings Beach, CA Adrift Tahoe Rentals Kayak, SUP, Canoe $25
Tahoe Paddle & Oar Kings Beach, CA Tahoe Paddle & Oar rentals Kayak, SUP, Canoe, Lessons, Tours $25
Sand Harbor Rentals Incline Village, NV (Sand Harbor State Park) Sand Harbor Rentals Kayak, SUP $25
Day Go Adventures Glenbrook, NV Day Go Adventures Kayak, SUP, Pedal Kayak $59
West Shore Sports Tahoma, CA West Shore Sports - SUmmer Kayak, SUP $20
Tahoe City Kayak & Paddleboard Tahoe City, CA Tahoe City KayakTahoe City Kayak Kayak, SUP, Lessons, Tours $25

Water

Guide to Paddling Lake Tahoe in Any Season

Guide to Paddling Lake Tahoe in Any Season

Paddleboarding, kayaking, or doing any type of human-powered activity for however much time you have on Big Blue can give you an amazing workout, but it’s good to know when the best time of the year to paddle is and how to stay safe out on the water.

Activities

Guide to Paddling Lake Tahoe in Any Season

Guide to Paddling Lake Tahoe in Any Season

Paddleboarding, kayaking, or doing any type of human-powered activity for however much time you have on Big Blue can give you an amazing workout, but it’s good to know when the best time of the year to paddle is and how to stay safe out on the water.

Travel

Winter Travel Resources

Winter Travel Resources

Comprehensive links to Lake Tahoe’s webcams. Plan your visit using the webcams available in ski resorts, mountains, lake and roads, and have a live view of the weather and traffic conditions.

Guides

Guide to Paddling Lake Tahoe in Any Season

Guide to Paddling Lake Tahoe in Any Season

Paddleboarding, kayaking, or doing any type of human-powered activity for however much time you have on Big Blue can give you an amazing workout, but it’s good to know when the best time of the year to paddle is and how to stay safe out on the water.

The 5 W’s and FAQ of Cross-Country Skiing in Lake Tahoe

The 5 W’s and FAQ of Cross-Country Skiing in Lake Tahoe

The 5 W’s and FAQ of Cross-Country Skiing in Lake Tahoe

The 5 W’s and FAQ of Cross-Country Skiing in Lake Tahoe

There are a ton of health benefits to taking up cross country skiing, especially doing it as often as you can in a beautiful natural environment like Lake Tahoe. However, if you’ve never done it before or you’re not familiar with the Sierra Nevada terrain, then it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why this Tahoe Cross Country Ski Guide covers the five W’s and frequently asked questions about where to go, what to wear, when to ski, why get into the sport, and more…
Kid Cross Country Skiing

Who Can (or Should) Cross Country Ski?

Cross-country skiing is a great low impact sport that anyone in decent physical shape can pretty much do, and participating in it often will improve one’s balance, strength, and endurance. Therefore, if you don’t mind working up a sweat while being outside in the cold, then this is a nice natural social distancing activity that also makes you feel like you did something productive that day.

Many cross-country skiers also like to bring their furry four-legged friends with them. Not all cross-country centers allow them, but places like Northstar California, Kirkwood, and Tahoe XC welcome pooches on the trails for an additional fee (See the Lake Tahoe Cross Country Ski Guide for links and more information). Public places like Bijou, Rabe Meadow, or the Nevada Nordic trails are also open to pets, and accessing those kinds of trails is free of charge (or maybe the price of a parking fee).

When going into any kind of backcountry, it’s always a good idea to bring a friend or at least let someone know where you’re going and how long you expect to be gone. Make sure that your cell phone is charged up and review information on the Tahoe Backcountry including weather and avalanche report links.  If you plan on climbing up in elevation to a peak or a vista point on untouched or ungroomed snow, it also helps to bring a shovel, beacon, and/or probe (but those only help if there’s a buddy with you who has the same kind of gear). Level ground for beginners near the ski center or close to town is generally safe (if you’re at a legitimate cross country ski center or a place like Rabe Meadow) from avalanche danger, but it’s still good to be prepared and take all necessary precautions.

What Do You Wear Cross Country Skiing?

While participating in any outdoor sport in Lake Tahoe whether it’s in the summer or winter, I’m a big fan of layering up with dry wick clothing. You want to wear clothes that are comfortable, secure, and efficiently absorb sweat, all the way down to your underwear. Start out with a conforming warm underlayer like leggings and a lightweight long-sleeve top covered up by a fleece sweatshirt and weatherproof snow pants. On a warmish sunny 42-degree day you might be good with simply that but on a blizzard, consider wearing a thick fleece-lined snow jacket and warmer socks (hand warmers and foot warmers can make you feel cozier, too). Regardless of what kind of weather you’re cross-country skiing in, don’t forget a beanie, gloves, and goggles (or sunglasses)- those are an absolute necessity to help prevent snow blindness.

When is the Best Time to Cross Country Ski?

While participating in any outdoor sport in Lake Tahoe whether it’s in the summer or winter, I’m a big fan of layering up with dry wick clothing. You want to wear clothes that are comfortable, secure, and efficiently absorb sweat, all the way down to your underwear. Start out with a conforming warm underlayer like leggings and a lightweight long-sleeve top covered up by a fleece sweatshirt and weatherproof snow pants. On a warmish sunny 42-degree day you might be good with simply that but on a blizzard, consider wearing a thick fleece-lined snow jacket and warmer socks (hand warmers and foot warmers can make you feel cozier, too). Regardless of what kind of weather you’re cross-country skiing in, don’t forget a beanie, gloves, and goggles (or sunglasses)- those are an absolute necessity to help prevent snow blindness.

Cross Country Ski image Red dots
Ski equipment images

When is the Best Time to Cross Country Ski?

In the 14 years I’ve lived in Lake Tahoe, every winter season is different as to when Mother Nature decides to bring us snow. However, generally most cross-country ski centers are open by Christmas and keep their trails groomed (or available) through April-ish. OpenSnow, NOAA, and The Weather Channel are some sources to go for weather information or visit a cross country ski center’s website from our Tahoe Cross Country Ski Guide to see when their season starts and/or ends.

Northstar California | Truckee, CA

Address: 100 Northstar Dr., Truckee, CA 96161
Website: https://www.northstarcalifornia.com/
Hours of operation: 9am-4pm daily
Cost: $55/adults, $42/children 5-12, free/kids 4 & under
Activities allowed: cross country skiing, snowshoeing, fat tire biking, telemarking
Number of acres: 35 kilometers of trails
Number of trails: At least 23

Summary: Northstar California is known for its alpine skiing, shopping, dining, and ice-skating rink, but few people know that it has 35 kilometers of trails that are ideal for cross country skiing, fat tire biking, and more for all ages and abilities. This is also the perfect place to go to get away from the hustle and bustle in and around the Village, and these types of activities are easy enough to do with the whole family. Northstar is also one of the only places in North Lake Tahoe that allows fat tire biking and provides free access to Epic season passholders.

Where Do You Go in Lake Tahoe to Cross Country Ski?

Since Lake Tahoeians are all about being outdoors and getting exercise, there are plenty of legitimate cross-country ski centers and open parks/beaches/flat ground to just go and slide around on. If you’re just getting into the sport, consider going to Tahoe XC, Northstar California, or Kirkwood where they provide ski lessons and rentals.

Why Cross-Country Ski?

This W in cross-country skiing kind of goes without saying…you should cross country ski because it’s FUN! It’s also a great way to stay fit, active, and enjoy the peace and quiet of the forested Lake Tahoe environment.

How Do You Cross Country Ski?

Like in any ski or board sport, if you know how to shift your weight properly, maintain balance, and move your body with coordinated arms and leg effort, then you already have the fundamentals in place to cross country ski as that is basically all it takes to stride on flat ground. There are several tutorials on the web about how to do this and a few Lake Tahoe cross-country centers also offer clinics, lessons, and rentals for those who want to get into the sport properly. Like in alpine skiing, trail difficulty is graded and marked by green circles (novice), blue squares (intermediate), and black diamonds (advanced/expert). Therefore, if you are just starting out, look for the green trails.

Why Now is a Good Time to Go Cross Country Skiing in Lake Tahoe?

Cross country skiing in Lake Tahoe is the perfect social distancing sport that improves your health. Like hiking in the summer, you can breathe in the fresh air, take in the surrounding beauty, and do something fun with your pup if you have one. There’s snow on the ground and cross-country ski centers are open, so now is the best time to hit the trails!

Advertising

Advertising – Ezoic

Advertising

Categories

Advertising – Ezoic

Listen Live KTKE Tahoe Truckee Radio

Listen Live KTKE Tahoe Truckee Radio

Advertising – Ezoic

Advertising

TahoeXC cross country skier trail sign
View Tahoe Tamarack Peak vert
Frozen Granite Lake
Tahoe Backcountry board and poles

Lake Tahoe Cross Country Ski Guide

Lake Tahoe Cross Country Ski Guide

Lake Tahoe Cross Country Ski Guide

Lake Tahoe Cross Country Ski Guide

A Quick Guide About Lake Tahoe’s Best Cross Country Ski Centers

At a time when mask wearing and social distancing is key to staying healthy and safe, access to the great outdoors has never been so important. Activities that provide space and exercise- like golf, tennis, and snow skiing- have now been more popular than ever during the pandemic. However, to comply with local and state everchanging “stay-at-home” orders, most alpine ski resorts have limited their capacity to 25 percent, closed their indoor dining establishments, and now require skiers and riders to wear facemasks in lift lines, parking lots, and wherever six feet of social distancing from strangers is not possible.

Fortunately, Nordic ski centers don’t see the kinds of crowds that traditional ski resorts do, making them even more attractive in a time like this. Although most cross-country centers still ask that you stay home if you’re sick, wear your facemask over your nose and mouth while on property, and book your daily tickets/lessons/rentals in advance, it’s still better than sitting on the couch engrossed in another Netflix binge. Lake Tahoe cross-country centers are doing their best to stay open while providing incredible Tahoe cross-country skiing experiences meant to take your mind away from what’s going on in the rest of the world, and appeal to people of all ages and abilities.

Here are some basic stats about Lake Tahoe’s most legit snowshoe and cross-country centers, however, keep in mind that it’s best to check each resort’s website for updated COVID-19 protocols and information:

Tahoe XC getting started

Tahoe XC | Tahoe Cross Country | Tahoe City

Address: 925 Country Club Drive, Tahoe City, CA 96145
Website: https://www.tahoexc.org/
Hours of operation: 8:30am-5pm daily
Cost: $36/adults ages 19-69, free/seniors 70-plus and youth ages 18 & younger, $7/dogs
Activities allowed: Snowshoeing, Nordic skiing
Number of acres: 50 kilometers of groomed track
Number of trails: 8 beginner runs, 8 intermediate runs, 12 expert runs

Summary: Comprised of 21 ski trails and a snowshoe trail, this human-powered ski resort winds through trees and meadows up behind Carnelian Bay and Dollar Hill, its highest point rewarding skiers and snowshoers with incredible views of Lake Tahoe. Tahoe XC offers a variety of trails for all skill levels along with three warming huts that serve hot cocoa and tea. There are also nine kilometers of dog-friendly trails, allowed in certain areas on certain times. To read up on Dog Trail Rules, click here.

Tahoe XC also rents out classic Nordic ski packages, skate ski packages, and snowshoes; one-hour long private lessons are also available. Unfortunately, fat bikes are not allowed since it ruins the quality of the groomed trails, but mountain bikes are welcome in the summer months.

Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center | Truckee

Address: 15275 Alder Creek Rd., Truckee, CA 96161
Website: https://www.tahoedonner.com/amenities/amenities/cross-country/
Hours of operation: 8:30am-5pm daily
Cost: $41-$51/adults, $15/ages 12 & under, $31-$41 ages 13-17 and 60-plus
Activities allowed: cross-country skiing, snowshoeing
Number of acres: 2800+
Number of trails: 79

Summary: Voted the sixth best cross-country ski area in North America by USA Today, Tahoe Donner has more than 100 kilometers of ski trails that wind through the nicest untouched areas this side of Truckee, taking skiers on a climb up to the crest of the Sierra Nevada range. Covid-19 has changed operations for the 2020/21 ski season, but Alder Creek Café & Trailside Bar at the base of the ski area is still open from 9am-4pm with grab-n-go options. Unfortunately, doggy day passes are unavailable (as of January 2021) and season passes for pups are sold out. However, Tahoe Donner still offers private lessons and ski rental gear if you purchase it online in advance. Keep in mind that fat biking or hiking is not permitted on these trails.

Royal Gorge Cross-Country Resort | Soda Springs, CA

Address: 9411 Pahatsi Rd., Soda Springs, CA 95728
Website: http://www.royalgorge.com
Hours of operation: 8:30am-4pm daily
Cost: $39-$43/adults, $20/ages 13-22, $34-$39/ages 65-74, $10/ages 12 & younger & 75-plus, $5/dog pass
Activities allowed: skate skiing, XC skiing, snowshoeing, dog trails
Number of acres: 6000
Number of trails: 137

Summary: Considered one of the largest cross-country ski areas in the U.S. (if not THE largest), Royal Gorge offers winter aficionados more than 140 kilometers of groomed, tracked ski trails with eight different warming huts scattered throughout the property that provide some respite from potentially harsh winter elements. Located right off I-80 close to Sugar Bowl, Royal Gorge provides skiers with pristine backcountry conditions with the opportunity to stride through snowy meadows or trek up to a few of the most stunning vistas. What’s also great about Royal Gorge is that pups are totally welcome, and the resort offers lessons, clinics, and rentals. See what conditions are like or click around Royal Gorge’s interactive map here.

Squaw Creek Cross Country Center Lake Tahoe

Resort at Squaw Creek Nordic Center | Olympic Valley, CA

Address: 400 Squaw Creek Rd., Olympic Valley, CA 96146
Website: www.destinationhotels.com/squawcreek
Hours of operation: 9am-5pm daily
Cost: Call 530-412-7034 for details
Activities allowed: Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing
Number of acres: 18 kilometers of groomed track
Number of trails: 11

Summary: Not only does the Resort at Squaw Creek have its own ski lift that accesses the rest of Squaw Valley, but Squaw Creek also provides its guests with their own heated swimming pools, ice skating rink, and more. In the wintertime, the Resort at Squaw Creek transforms its golf course into a Nordic ski/snowshoe wonderland touting “kilometers of groomed trails for beginners or expert Nordic skiers”. However, since the Resort at Squaw Creek has been closed for a while due to Covid-19, it’s best to call before you go over there to see if its hours of operation have changed.

Northstar California | Truckee, CA

Address: 100 Northstar Dr., Truckee, CA 96161
Website: https://www.northstarcalifornia.com/
Hours of operation: 9am-4pm daily
Cost: $55/adults, $42/children 5-12, free/kids 4 & under
Activities allowed: cross country skiing, snowshoeing, fat tire biking, telemarking
Number of acres: 35 kilometers of trails
Number of trails: At least 23

Summary: Northstar California is known for its alpine skiing, shopping, dining, and ice-skating rink, but few people know that it has 35 kilometers of trails that are ideal for cross country skiing, fat tire biking, and more for all ages and abilities. This is also the perfect place to go to get away from the hustle and bustle in and around the Village, and these types of activities are easy enough to do with the whole family. Northstar is also one of the only places in North Lake Tahoe that allows fat tire biking and provides free access to Epic season passholders.

Nevada Nordic Old Mount Rose | Reno, NV

Address: 5 Miles East of the Incline Village Hwy 431/Hwy 28 Roundabout on Hwy 431, Reno, NV
Website: https://nevadanordic.org/
Facebook Link (latest grooming information)
Hours of operation: Anytime
Cost: Free, but feel free to donate to keep trails groomed at nevadanordic.org
Activities allowed: cross country skiing, snowshoeing, fat tire biking, telemarking
Number of acres: unknown
Number of trails: 1 trail with 2 loops in the Tahoe Meadows/1 trail at Spooner Lake

Summary: Back in 2015, a group of passionate Incline Village residents got together and started working with Nevada State Parks to establish some Nordic trails in the Spooner backcountry. Formerly known as Incline Meadows XC, the group is relying on community support to keep its trails groomed and work towards its long-term vision of expanding and offering accessible winter recreation to everyone. The group currently grooms a trail that runs parallel to the Mt. Rose Highway and another at Spooner Lake.

Kirkwood Cross Country & Snowshoe Center | Kirkwood, CA

Address: 1501 Kirkwood Meadows Dr., Kirkwood, CA 95646
Website: https://www.kirkwood.com/explore-the-resort/activities-and-events/cross-country.aspx
Hours of operation: 9am-4pm
Cost: $70/adults, $48/juniors, $36/child includes introductory lesson or snowshoe tour
Activities allowed: cross country skiing, snowshoeing, fat tire biking
Number of acres: 60 kilometers of trails
Number of trails: Three interconnected trail systems called Meadow, Caples Creek, and Schneider.

Summary: In the peaceful, quiet, and snowy Alpine Valley about a fourth of a mile east of Kirkwood Mountain Resort, there are three interconnected trail systems to cross country ski, skate, or snowshoe in and around the Cross Country & Snowshoe Center. The Meadow System is more than two miles long while Caples Creek runs along beaver ponds where skiers can spot birds and small critters. Schneider is the most intense…climbing up to 9,000 feet where one can then view the Sierra Crest, Desolation Wilderness, and other incredible landscapes. Dogs are welcome (day passes are $25 per pup) and lessons/ski tours are available. Call 209-258-7248 for more information.

Other Places to Cross Country Ski near South Lake Tahoe

Outside of the main strip of casinos in South Lake Tahoe, there are a few other public parks, beaches, meadows, and more that aren’t necessarily official XC ski centers, but people like to ski around on when the area is covered in snow. On the southwest side of the lake near Emerald Bay and off Highway 89, cross country skiers can be seen sliding around Camp Richardson (although fees are required to access the groomed trails), the Tallac Historic Site, and Fallen Leaf Lake Campground. Stay on Highway 89 past the Y and find a couple of skiable loops at Washoe Meadows State Park. Or veer onto Highway 50 heading towards the casinos and stop off at Bijou Park or Lake Tahoe Community College to get some turns in. On the southeast side of Lake Tahoe right after crossing over Stateline, Rabe Meadow is a nice flat beginner/intermediate loop that takes you to the water’s edge.

Frequently Asked Questions | Cross Country Ski Tips

Advertising

Advertising – Ezoic

Advertising

Categories

Advertising – Ezoic

Listen Live KTKE Tahoe Truckee Radio

Listen Live KTKE Tahoe Truckee Radio

Advertising – Ezoic

Advertising

TahoeXC cross country skier trail sign
View Tahoe Tamarack Peak vert
Frozen Granite Lake
Tahoe Backcountry board and poles

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This