What to Expect When Visiting Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe and Truckee Advice to Make your Visit Stress Free!

What is Lake Tahoe?
A deep, clear-water alpine lake almost a mile high in elevation that sits in a bowl of granite mountain peaks. Lake Tahoe is one of the prettiest places in California and Nevada.


Weather in General

The weather in Lake Tahoe is moderate in summer and cold in winter. Hundreds of inches of snow can pile up. The roads are kept clear except during storms. Always check the Lake Tahoe weather for the time you plan to visit to see what’s up.

Lake Tahoe – The Seasonal Pros and Cons

Summer: Believe it or not, Lake Tahoe is busiest in summer, even more than during winter ski season. This is because most of the area attractions are open, Lake Tahoe water temperature is warm and the lake and beaches get very crowded. Historic places of interest, Lakeside lodges, Golf, and more. It’s also the only time to see the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. Fourth of July: This is a busy time at Lake Tahoe. You’ll find the best fireworks display in the western U.S. Click here Lake Tahoe Fireworks. Additional Summertime Lake Tahoe activities: Click Summer Activities in Lake Tahoe.

Fall: The shoulder season after the kids go back to school lasts until mid-November, when the ski resorts begin to open.

Winter: The second-busiest season of the year. Winter brings storms with snow and the Winter fun in Lake Tahoe begins. For North Lake Tahoe Winter Activities click the link to find out about the best places for snow skiing and snowboarding, or just throw a couple of snowballs around. For Winter Road Conditions or call 800-427-7623 before you set out.

Spring: Starting when the ski resorts close and lasting until the end of May, spring comes slowly, with the white stuff lingering on the peaks until mid-summer.


10 Ways to be a Smart Lake Tahoe Visitor:

Those “Not in the Know” find themselves suffering from: The high altitude, shivering when the nights grow cool, or find they left their jackets at home.

Don’t get stuck in traffic gridlock, be “In the Know”! Discover how to be a smarter Lake Tahoe visitor and enjoy your trip while spending less time and money doing it. Trust us… we see it all the time – Visitors who are time-wasters and fun-busters. Don’t be stuck in gridlock in Lake Tahoe, sunburned and miserable or waiting in line at popular restaurants for hours. We’re here to help you enjoy your trip without having to learn the tricks first-hand.

  • Get Organized, Not Lost: When planning your Lake Tahoe days, use a map to locate everything you want to see, and then plan your route in advance. Otherwise, you could spend unnecessary time back-tracking around the lake. Please note that many times Siri will take you to a wrong address, Google maps work best in Tahoe, if there is a place you’d like to visit to a map quest in advance.
  • Screen Test: The surface of the lake is about 6,225 feet elevation, and the surrounding mountains are higher. Before you go, take a look at our high elevation checklist. It will help keep you well and comfortable.
  • Drink in Moderation: The effect of Alcohol is greater at 6,000 feet, and the police are VERY serious about enforcing drunk-driving laws.
  • Drink Lots of Water: Remember to stay hydrated and carry water if you are planning a long day trip. Remember that you won’t be able to find a store while hiking the mountains or Tahoe National Forest so bring enough water.
  • Carry Snacks: Going on long walks or hikes please carry snacks and water, many people underestimate the time it takes to get through a 5 mile hike when it’s uphill. Also you may get stuck on a HWY in the winter and be there for couple hours, make sure you’re always prepared.
  • Avoid Crowds: Lake Tahoe is even busier in summer than in winter. Travel during the week if you can, choose June for summer or after Labor Day, come before Christmas to get some skiing in or early Spring, see the best time to visit Lake Tahoe.
  • Have Reservations: You may need dinner reservations on the North Shore on Friday and Saturday nights(especially in summer and winter) and even if you wait until the same day to do it, you’ll still know when to go and won’t have to sit around.
  • Don’t Pack a lot of Clothes: The dress code in most Tahoe restaurants is casual, pack jeans and comfortable shoes and enjoy yourself, don’t spend your time worrying about your wardrobe when packing for Tahoe.
  • Stay Warm: Even in summer, the nights are cool. If you’re going to be out after dark, bring a warm jacket and maybe a pair of long pants to pull on over your shorts.
  • Grocery Shopping: Avoid going grocery shopping on a weekend between 4-6 PM, that’s when most visitors get in town and you may get stuck in a line for a while.
  • Driving: Locals are never in a rush behind the wheel, please remember you are on vacation and be patient, you’ll find many lost visitors, please don’t make their day worse than it is. Make sure you have a 4WD in winter, you never know when the storm will hit, you want to be prepared, also drive slow in the snow and keep the distance.
  • Remember to Relax and Enjoy: Try to be patient and don’t let the little things bother you. Leave worries behind, you are in Lake Tahoe!! Have the time of your life and come back to Lake Tahoe often… it’s good for your soul!

Getting Around Lake Tahoe:

The best way to get around Lake Tahoe is by car. Because there are more than 70 miles of shoreline at just the lake alone, you’ll find that having your own set of wheels will be most convenient. You can rent a car at the Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO) . The Tahoe Area Regional Transit (TART) provides public bus services, but only around the north shore.

Car: Because of Lake Tahoe’s size and somewhat limited public transportation, you’ll find that having a car will allow for better exploration. To get a real feel for the region, take a ride around Lake Tahoe. Sure, you’ll spend a little extra on gas(about 72 miles), but the views will be well worth it and you’ll know which areas you’ll want to come back to. If you’re visiting in winter, please note that some sections of Highway 89 might be closed due to snow. Keep an eye on the weather report before heading out. Make sure you carry chains and best cars to bring are AWD.

Public Transportation: Tahoe Area Regional Transit (TART) operates frequent bus routes on Lake Tahoe’s northern and western shores between Tahoma and Incline Village as well as five daily shuttles to Truckee from Tahoe City. Buses run every 30 minutes to an hour from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., depending on the route. There are no night buses, so you have to keep a close eye on the time if you’re out on the slopes or the trails. One-way fares cost $1.75, or if you’re planning to rely on public transit throughout your trip.

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11260 Donner Pass Rd, C1-303,Truckee, CA 96161