Photo by Cindy Holzgen
It’s known as Big Blue to the locals and it is both big and very, very blue. Lake Tahoe straddles the California and Nevada border southwest of Reno. The alpine lake is high, deep, cold and gorgeous. The Caribbean blue waters are surrounded by mountains on all sides. Enormous pine and cedar trees cover the landscape. In the summer puffy white clouds break up the clear blue sky and in winter snow shrouds the mountains, which are themselves covered with ski resorts.
This area is well known for downhill skiing and winter activities. The Winter Olympics were held at nearby Squaw Valley in 1960. Other Tahoe ski resorts include Heavenly, Homewood Mountain, Northstar California, and Diamond Peak. Some of these are only accessible by gondola. A gondola ride to the mountain top is an experience in itself, even in the summer.
When the weather warms up this region boasts great cycling. Two rides bookend the summer season. Both America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride in early June and the Tour de Tahoe in early September circumnavigate the lake. It’s 72 miles to go all the way around with a great deal of elevation change. There are many bike trails and mountain bike opportunities as well. For the person who wants to use two feet instead of two wheels, the area is crisscrossed by miles of trails. The big daddy is the Tahoe Rim Trail, it’s 165 miles long and travels along the ridges that bound the Tahoe Basin. Although the water in Lake Tahoe averages only 48 degrees, many beautiful beaches hug the coast, providing swimming and boating options.
The Lake Tahoe region has a base elevation of 6,200 feet and nearby mountains top out at over 10,000 feet. This requires a little bit of altitude acclimation for most people. But once you get used to breathing less oxygen, Big Blue provides plenty of fun no matter what time of year you visit.