Zephyr Cove is northeast of South Lake Tahoe in Nevada. At the cove, there is a store/restaurant/hotel; parking there is free. Parking near the cove has a small fee. But to park at the store, you must be a customer... The view of Lake Tahoe here isn't quite as good as the one from Cave Rock. The MS Dixie offers short cruises on Lake Tahoe (we didn't), but if you would like to go, think about how blue Lake Tahoe is now, and how that cruise you take might effect the lake for future visitors.
North and South Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is spectacular in winter or summer. I enjoy skiing in winter and hiking in summer.
LAKE TAHOE EXPLORATION
Lake Tahoe is shaping up to compete worldwide for tourists to their ski, vacation and casino industries. Heavenly’s new 2.4 mile, 8 passenger gondola, additional high speed lifts at several ski resorts, upscale hotels and suites and new shopping areas attract visitors. Local cities respond with new sidewalks while entrepreneurs bring new ideas and cash into local economies. Ski resorts and towns take on a European flair with village squares. Scattered around the Tahoe Basin is entertainment for all age groups focusing on outdoor sports from ice-skating, tubing, snow shoe trails to sleigh rides and snow-mobiling. Altogether, what was a great holiday destination has become even better with more to come.
On a recent weeklong visit, my base was Club Tahoe Condominiums, Incline Village. Incline Village is convenient to the North Shore’s scenic beauty with a high concentration of neighboring ski resorts, near a lake so deep that some spots are uncharted. This giant playground is much quieter than South Shore while offering shops and restaurants for various tastes.
Lake Tahoe’s best views are from ski slopes and my favorite is Incline’s Diamond Peak. Slicing down Incline’s Crystal Ridge, for a terrifying and magnificent moment, I thought the trail ended in the lake. Being outdoors, invigorated by clear alpine air, a skier could choose Mt. Rose’s East Bowl with views of the dry Carson Valley or Upper and Lower Lakeview trails overlooking Lake Tahoe. Homewood offers some pretty gorgeous Lake panoramas. Heavenly’s gondola offers stunning Lake views as does various lifts and runs. Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows offer a faint Lake Tahoe backdrop to their generous runs.
For indoor sports enthusiasts, gambling makes the day where a person can sit immobile playing a one-armed bandit, video poker, or move with gusto tossing dice in craps. Several major casino resorts on South and North Shore offer around-the-clock gaming, sumptuous restaurants and big name entertainment. I hear that some people actually visit Lake Tahoe just to gamble. I prefer to gamble in Reno at the Peppermill where the odds at video poker make the game more interesting and fair.
Looking at deep blue Lake Tahoe I wondered about the lake’s origin. The Lake Tahoe Basin is not volcanic but was formed over millions of years by faulting, as in earthquakes. A fault on the eastern margin created the Carson Range, while the Sierra Nevada rose out of a shallow sea on the Western side. From the up-thrown fault blocks arose the highest peaks in the Tahoe Basin. A snow/rain/river fed lake formed near the southern and lowest part of the basin. The original outlet was by present Truckee. Several active volcanoes poured lava damming the outlet. The lake rose higher until a new outlet was cut just east of Mt. Pluto (present location of Northstar-at-Tahoe Ski Area). Ice Age glaciers scoured the landscape to the shape we see today. Glacial moraines blocked the outlet again, changing it to the present Truckee River outlet at Tahoe City.
Weather in the Sierra’s and Lake Tahoe is wholly unpredictable so the watchword is “Be Prepared.” Before heading into the mountains, call 800-427-ROAD for weather and road conditions. Carry the right chains for your tires, or better yet, take a four-wheel drive vehicle with mud and snow tires. I really hate getting caught away from the helpful hands of “chain monkeys” only to get down and dirty in the freezing slush and snow to fight with numb hands applying chains. Did I say I hate doing chains?
While skiing my last half day at Mt. Rose, a blizzard blew in totally obscuring trails. Recovering from the white out in the cafeteria, I watched the ski lift fade in and out of view as the storm intensified. Brave or foolish die-hards pulled up hoods, donned facemasks and boarded the snow blighted lifts for more fun in the new fallen powder.
At days end, the setting sun turns blue waters and snowy mountains salmon to red before disappearing in an alpinlight glow caressing nearby peaks. Walkers bring dogs for a last run at the lakeshore. Tourists photograph for their memories. The air turns chill. My heat-beat keeps time with the gentle lap of waves on the beach as I behold one of nature’s gifts. All is still and hushed with the setting sun.
Wine in the north, mist around the Bay, sunshine in the South, films in L.A., and the hot Valley farmland in the middle. Add enormous Redwood trees, the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains, clear blue Lake Tahoe, the bears of Yosemite National Park and the rattlesnakes of Death Valley, and you get this big old state, the Golden State, where roads are wide, trucks are big, sodas are huge, and Earthquakes are a-plenty (not that I've ever felt one).
I moved out here in 2005 with my Californian wife, having lived in Europe for almost 30 years, and I'm glad it's such a varied state. I've seen a fair bit already, but there is still so much more to see.
There's a lot to see in California. It's easy to see how it became so popular, and the Bear Flag still flies alongside the Stars and Stripes, bearing the word "California Republic" - this place has way too much identity to be just another state of the union. In fact some think it should be its own country - and I agree, because then we would get our own new year's eve tv show, rather than one that was recorded three hours previously in Time Square, New York. Other people still have remarked that northern and southern CA, havin such different characters and outlooks, should go their separate ways too, and split into two different states. Not sure I like that idea as much.
Other people still (seismologists) tell us that California is breaking up whether we like it or not, moving in different directions along the San Andreas fault. For now, I'll enjoy it while it's here, thanks!
My top five favourite places that I've been to in California:
1. San Francisco
2. Laguna Beach
3. Sierra Nevada Mountains
4. Big Sur
5. Sonoma Valley
But probably not really in that order.