Lake Tahoe, NV

Color near Lake Tahoe

Color near Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe lies nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountain range at a cool 6,445 feet above sea level on the border between Nevada and California. It’s the 10th deepest lake in the world at a maximum of 1,645 feet, and is not encompassed by one park but several smaller parks interspersed with privately owned property due to it’s large size and location in two different states.

It’s also about a 55 minute drive from my current home base at Sparks Marina, and a great place to take a day trip when the weather’s cooperative. Julie and I went up the third weekend in October and were going to go again this weekend with some coworkers and hike, but alas what was a light rain down here in the valley was blowing snow up there, and would not have been great hiking weather.

We went to Sand Harbor, which is a Nevada state park on the northern end of the lake. Fees for a day pass vary from $7 to $12 a carload. Boat, OHV, horse, and bicycle permits are different. There are at least two other NV state parks along the shores of Lake Tahoe, but this one was the closest and boasted 55 acres of sandy beach, what’s not to love about a sandy beach in the mountains?

It's 12 miles wide and 22 miles long. "I can see for miles and miles..."

It’s 12 miles wide and 22 miles long. “I can see for miles and miles…”

Incredibly blue and clear

Incredibly blue and clear

When we arrived on October 18th, the weather was perfect. Upper 60’s, sunny skies, and there weren’t many people around.

The lake is startlingly clear and blue (and cold). The severe drought plaguing much of the west has affected the water level of Lake Tahoe too, exposing massive boulders along the shoreline away from the beaches which just beg to be clambered over. It’s a lot prettier than the mud and garbage at Lake Mead. It would be lovely to visit here in the summer to go swimming, but I brought my Kindle and enjoyed perching on a rock and looking out over the lake for a quiet read.

Right down at the beach was a local business doing kayak and stand up paddleboard rentals. It was $25 for an hour, more expensive than the places at Lake Powell was in Utah, but still not horrible. We spoke to the guy at the booth a little and he said this would likely be the last weekend they were open because of the weather. Later research online showed that they do boat and ski-doo rentals as well as fishing and para-sailing trips.

But there’s more to northern Lake Tahoe than just the lake itself.

The beach

The beach

The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare FestivalΒ also happens at Sand Harbor, there’s an outdoor theater set up right along the lake shore on a little peninsula. Shows run on the weekends throughout the summer, mostly plays but also with music performances and expos thrown in for variety. By October it’s already done for the year, but if you stop through in peak season it definitely looks to be worth a visit.

Moss grows on an stump near the shoreline

Moss grows on an stump near the shoreline

Farther inland, the private residencies at Incline Village near the lake are extravagant, some nearing on what I would call mansion size. It’s fun to gawk at them as we drive past, I can hardly imagine what the price tag must be. But none of them seem to be on the lake, and amenities are scarce and expensive in the area. I much prefer my RV, with which I can get great views and location at a fraction of the cost, and then move on to a more populated area when groceries are needed.

There are also some restaurant options in Incline Village. Julie and I arrived around lunch time and ate at the highly rated (but reasonably priced) Tunnel Creek Cafe. They have a limited but tasty menu of sandwiches and a good breakfast from what I’ve heard, and then a run of coffees and specialty beverages. At that same location you can rent a bike for bike tours of Incline Village and Lake Tahoe. We didn’t stop in for more info, but they seemed to be running a brisk business.

Alas, all fun daytrips must eventually come to and end, and so did this one. On the way back to Reno on the squiggly highway 431 through the mountains, we pass Mt. Rose – Ski Tahoe, the closest ski resort to the Reno area. It’s brown and lifeless now, but starting November 20th it’ll come alive (weather permitting) for winter fun. This is probably where Julie and I will go skiing before we leave the Reno area in December.

Good rocks for reading on

Good rocks for reading on

I’ve gone snowboarding about three times in my life when I still lived in Wisconsin, and never downhill skiing. But it just seems like something that has to be done at least once when you’re living near mountains in winter, you know? It’s part of my whole motto about trying new things and valuing experiences over possessions. As long as the experience doesn’t lead to the possession of broken bones, it’s all good.

* * *

Thank you everyone who used my affiliate linkΒ to do your Amazon shopping last month! Numbers are up, I guess holiday shopping season has begun. Also thanks to those who donated through PayPal to my travel fund, and to everyone who comments, e-mails, mentions me to their friends, and of course reads Interstellar Orchard. Without all of you I’d just be talking to myself, and I already know everything I’m going to say so where’s the fun in that? Enjoy the rest of your week.

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Becky on November 9, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    I’ve never had a bad fall on a snowboard, but I always stick to the small hills and go slow. πŸ˜‰

  2. Rene Kipp on November 8, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Snow in the Lake Tahoe area is winter heaven. In my youth, I loved to downhill ski. When the kids arrived we didn’t have as many chances to go, but we did a few times. The last time I went was about 10 or 11 years ago. It was a daughter and mom trip. I wanted to try boarding this time. I was ‘smart’ and took the hour long lesson. About half way through the lesson, I fell quite hard on my rump. As soon as I recovered I traded in my board for a pair of skis and enjoyed the rest of the day…
    I hope you two have a great time enjoying your boarding experience. πŸ™‚
    Rene Kipp recently posted..Halloween Through The YearsMy Profile

  3. Ramen on November 7, 2014 at 9:07 am

    I’ve got to head up there one of these days. I’m 3 hours away. Sometimes they make everyone put on tire chains to get up there in the winter.

    A good chunk of the increased Amazon affiliate link was probably from my truck stuff πŸ™‚

    • Becky on November 9, 2014 at 4:33 pm

      Well, thanks for shopping Ramen. πŸ™‚

      Yeah, I saw all those signs up there for chains. Wisconsin got a lot of snow in the winter but chains weren’t something we ever used so I have no experience with them. I want to see it in the wintertime. I hope you get the chance, 3 hours isn’t so bad!

  4. John L. on November 6, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Gorgeous pics! Safe Travels…….

    • Becky on November 6, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      Thanks John, glad you liked the pics. πŸ™‚

  5. Jodee Gravel on November 6, 2014 at 7:09 am

    Great pics – love the mossy stump and the water at the rocks especially. I’ve only been there in winter and then in a bus with lots of other folks – and it was for work πŸ™ , but it is a truly beautiful area. Glad to hear you and Julie plan to return and take on a new adventure!

    One of the reasons I have a dog is so I’m not really talking to myself around the house…….
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..MLS, Merriment, Medicine and a MarathonMy Profile

    • Becky on November 6, 2014 at 5:44 pm

      Haha! If your dog ever starts talking back I’d start wondering.

      I’m looking forward to seeing it in the winter with snow on the ground too, hope it works out. But yes, you should try getting back there in the summer Jodee.

  6. Fireman Steve on November 6, 2014 at 6:41 am

    Tahoe is awesome, and spiritual in some ways…if you go to Incline Village again, stop at the visitors center. They have a lot of free information about the area and its history….
    Safe travels,

    • Becky on November 6, 2014 at 5:41 pm

      I will Steve, hope to make it up there once more weather and time permitting.

  7. Terri on November 6, 2014 at 3:02 am

    God, your photos are particularly stunning with this post!! That last one of the water and the rocks all being washed in light…just breathtaking.

    I applaud you for being courageous enough to try downhill skiing this fall. Me being afraid of heights, I am worried I couldn’t even take the ride on the lift to the top. πŸ™‚

    Thank you again for such beautiful photos!!
    Terri recently posted..Defining (and choosing?) prioritiesMy Profile

    • Becky on November 6, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      Thank you Terri, glad you liked them.

      I’ll be sticking to the bunny hills this winter, the real slopes look like sheer drops to this Midwestern girl haha.

      I hear from Roger that you’re thinking of an apartment in the pacific NW now? I’m behind on everyone’s blogs with these 55 hour work weeks. That could be a real fun adventure too.

  8. Marsha on November 6, 2014 at 2:52 am

    Love the photos. The water is so blue.

    We circumnavigated Lake Tahoe when we were out that way earlier this year. I love being places during the off season and it’s not so crowded. We had gone to a conference in San Francisco, so we didn’t have our Casita; just a rental car. Would love to camp in California/Nevada sometime.

    The one and only time I’ve gone downhill skiing was at Granite Peak near Wausau, WI. It’s probably my fear of heights that prevents me from enjoying that particular sport.

    I think it’s great that you’re able to get out and see more of the area you’re living in while working. Which is probably why you do what you do.

    • Becky on November 6, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      I’ve been to Granite Peak! That was one of my three trips, haha.

      Lake Tahoe was quiet when we went and it was nice. There are campgrounds around there too but I didn’t go see any of them. It would be nice to camp out there.

      And yep, time is limited now that overtime has started, but every now and then I get out. πŸ™‚

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