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Lake Tahoe Summer Activities

Feb 7, 2008
It's Monday morning, and you've a busy week of events and activities planned. Sun is streaming in through the tall pine trees outside the condo' and the gentle squawking of birds and the smell of pine wafts through the open window in the cool summer morning. No time to eat. This is Lake Tahoe: a giant crystal pond surrounded by California, Nevada, sun, fun and mountains. You can't just waltz up to a spot like this and expect to be able to handle it. It's big, and there's a lot to do. You need a plan...

Your choose-you-own Tahoe adventure begins now

You roll over and open your eyes, eager to meet the day, your wife/girlfriend/best buddy/son/daughter appears and says, "honey/babe/pardner/daddy, what do you want to do today?" The best plan of attack is, like reading a book, start at the top and work your way down...


As a major vacation destination Lake Tahoe has thousands of hotel and motel rooms, a stunning array of gambling opportunities, and enough dining establishments to feed tens of thousands! It you're into hole-in-the-wall burger or burrito shops try Izzy's Burger Spa or Taco Taqueria in South Lake Tahoe or T's Rotisserie in Incline. If you want something fancy poke around in any of the bigger casinos in South Lake Tahoe, Incline Village or Cristal Bay for some swanky four star dining. Of course all the Ski Resorts, like Heavenly Tahoe, have some awesome dining high up on their slopes that are open year round and accessed via a tram or gondola ride.

Tahoe has every kind of room for you from discount economy lodging to high end luxury hotels with casino gambling just steps away. If your tastes and budget fall somewhere in between you'll have no trouble finding exactly what you're looking for. Specials and deals on lodging and dining rates abound as you would expect for such a popular destination.

Shopping and Concerts in Tahoe

If you're not quite equipped for a rugged adventure of mountain climbing and grueling backpacking, you can hit the awesome shopping centers and gambling in the town of South Lake Tahoe, or line up tickets to the nightly concerts by national headliner musicians and comedians at the casino showrooms all around the Nevada side of the lake. From our awesome local bands playing intimate concerts at small venues to huge stage productions with big-name artists, Tahoe gets the best concert acts in the country. Or enjoy the Lake Tahoe Shakespeaer Festival (http://www.laketahoeshakespeare.com/)

Roll over the mountains to Reno, Nevada for a series of free concerts through the summer in Wingfield park (http://www.renoriver.org/events.html) and the plaza at Harrah's in downtown Reno.

Lake Tahoe Summer Adventures

There are lots of adventures to be had in Tahoe, but the two basic types are Land Adventures and Water Adventures.

Land Adventures

There's a lot to do in Lake Tahoe for lovers of the outdoors in the summer time, so start with the easiest and tamest and move up to the hardest and most extreme. We get a bit of sun and good weather. Typical summer temps range from overnight lows in the 40's and high in the 80's: (averages). It get's plenty warm for hiking, biking or horseback riding and even camping, and we hardly ever get rain in the summer time.

Tahoe Mountain Biking and Hiking

Some would say that Tahoe is the best place on the west coast for epic cross-country mountain biking, some would say the country, some would say the world. And you need look no further than the Tahoe Rim Trail (tahoerimtrail.org) to get started. Bar none, the best off road biking, remote wilderness hiking and backpacking in the Tahoe Basin can be found somewhere on this 150 mile long scenic trail. It's just a matter of how far you want to ride or hike to get it.

By far the most popular section of the TRT for hiking and biking is the Flume Trail (theflumetrail.com). The Flume Trail began life as a siphon waterway from Incline Village, Nevada on the east shore of Lake Tahoe over the Carson Range, down the Truckee Meadows, and up to Virginia City, NV high in the Virginia Range. (http://parks.nv.gov/ltbc.htm)

To access the flume park either at the Tahoe Meadows trailhead at Mt. Rose Pass on HWY 431, or at Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park on HWY 50 at Spooner Summit (http://parks.nv.gov/lt.htm). Get a map when you rent a bike or arrange your shuttle ride at any of the great local shops. Both rides finish just outside Incline Village, NV where you can ride down to the beach to cool off at Sand Harbor State Park (http://parks.nv.gov/lt.htm), or head into town for burritos, burgers, beer and rest after a long ride.

In the summer you can ride the Heavenly tram or gondola and go for a hike, enjoy the views or grab a bite to eat at the Adventure Peak Grill, a full-service outdoor restaurant and bar. (http://www.skiheavenly.com/mountain/adventure_peak/)
Tahoe Road Biking

Several times through the summer you can get in on a large group ride that goes all the way around Lake Tahoe on smooth paved roads. The 72 mile ride around the lake is perhaps the most popular long ride. It has high traffic in areas, and has long strenuous climbs. The popular Death Ride (http://www.deathride.com/) organized by a local bike club is held every July and covers 129 miles and 15,000 feet of climbing. Also, the Tahoe Sierra Century (http://www.tahoesierracentury.com/) runs every September and circumnavigates Lake Tahoe on a supported bike tour.

Camping and backpacking in Tahoe

Though Tahoe is most known for its hotels, restaurants and casinos, some people prefer to camp on their vacation. And honestly, if you're looking for a real adventure, you should be sleeping on the ground.

There are lots of options for camping right down on the lake at Nevada Beach just minutes from Stateline and South Lake Tahoe along highway 50 in Roundhill, Nevada. You can see sunset views over Mt. Tallac and the Desolation Wilderness right from your campfire.

Or, get way off the trail on an overnight excursion into the Desolation Wilderness (http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/ltbmu/recreation/wilderness/desowild/). Permits (http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/ltbmu/recreation/wilderness/desowild/permits.shtml) are required, so pick one up at the Ranger Station near Camp Richardson on your way to the trailhead. The scenic Pacific Crest Trail (http://www.pcta.org/) skirts the western rim of the Tahoe Basin, and the Tahoe Rim Trail (http://www.tahoerimtrail.org/) completes the 150 mile loop for a two week backpacking trek with resupply stops every few days.
Tahoe Water Adventures

Lake Tahoe is a large body of water. As the second deepest lake in the United States it is 1,637 feet deep, 22 miles long and 12 miles wide. So there's more than enough space on its shimmering surface for any kind of water recreation you can imagine.


All summer sail boats stream across the lake and motor boats tug around happy people waterskiing, tubing and wakeboarding. Water temps are 65 to 70 degrees, but you wouldn't be sorry if you wore a wetsuit.

Skiing, tubing and wakeboarding are really popular on Tahoe. The many public, private and secluded beaches are great places to launch a day of motor boating with family and friends. And the Sierra Nevada Mountains, holding snow well into the summer, makes a great backdrop to the festivities.

Tahoe Beaches

If all you want is to sit on the beach and float around in a raft, Tahoe is easy, it will oblige. You can go to DL Bliss State Park, Pope Beach or Zephyr Cove for a full service experience with food, beverages and kayak rentals or Hidden Beach in Incline or one of the many access points around the lake for a more rustic natural lakeside experience.

In Tahoe City you can rent a tube or raft and float several miles down the Truckee River. Trips start near the outlet of Lake Tahoe where highways 28 and 89 intersect and end several miles down a scenic calm lazy river.

If you want to get out on the lake away from shore you'll need the help of a motorboat. Rentals are available all around the lake and you can rent anything from a kayak to a large cabin cruiser. (http://www.boattahoe.com/boat_rentals.htm)

Fishing in Tahoe

As a large open expanse of fresh water, Tahoe has some spectacular fishing opportunities! Whether you're trolling out in the open or fly-casting in the rocky shallows you can find lake trout as big as 10 pounds! Mackinaw trout, German Brown and Kokanee are the common sport fish in the lake.

Many lakes and streams dot the mountainous region around the Tahoe Basin so there is no shortage of water to fish.

Enjoy it while it lasts!

At some point you make it back to bed. Either sun-baked and tired, or content from an entertaining day in town, but you have to rest, so you can get up and do it again. Lake Tahoe isn't going anywhere and the fun things to do there are just getting better! But your vacation can't last forever. So plan your attack to take advantage of everything Tahoe has to offer.
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