Black bears live in the Tahoe forests. Generally, these bears are extremely shy around humans and aren't threatening. Two important tips, however: don't leave food outside and don't approach cubs.
Hubby took this photo just before meeting up with a bear. Fortunately, the bear ran away, so hubby didn't have to rassle it.
Although Tahoe City is a very beautiful community, their roads are often only one lane so traffic can be bad, plus parking can be hard to find depending on the seasons. So be patient and just take in your time. Be careful crossing the roads. Use the crosswalks when you can find them.
We went up during the first significant snowfall of 2006. Although there was less than a foot of snow in total, the icy conditions brought out the authorities who were requiring all non 4wd vehicles to have snow chains. There were checkpoints along the road and cars were required to stop and chain up. As you can see from picture #2, having a 4wd does not guarantee that you will not get stuck.
If you're planning to drive to Tahoe during the winter, an SUV is practically a must. And snow chains are not a bad idea either.
The Nevada side is close enough to Tahoe City that the casinos will do their best to entice you.
Here is a gaggle of tourists getting ready to blow their paychecks at the Cal-Neva, just across the stateline.
As much as we enjoy skiing, we have learned that skiing around Lake Tahoe during a Sierra snowstorm is no fun. In fact, the snow wind and low clouds can be so blinding as to leave you in a white-out situation where you can see nothing but white. This makes skiing difficult, perhaps even dangerous.* Often, you have to follow the voices you hear or the noise of the lift to know the correct way down the mountain, and you definitely have to cut your speed. Add in the factors of increased cold, wetness and the feeling of sharp snow blasting your face and you'll understand why we only ski in snow when we have to (like we're near the end of our trip and there's one day left and it's snowing).
* For those readers who thought to themselves "Skiing is always dangerous" at this moment, I would note that neither of us have ever hurt ourselves skiing, but I have injured my back and shoulder playing golf. Golf is dangerous, skiing is not!
Brrrrr.., the water in Lake Tahoe may be clean and clear, but it is also damn cold! Fed by snowmelt and very deep, the water maintains a constant temperature. I can't remember exactly what it is, but it's something like 45F or 10C. We swam in it -- but not for long. Somehow, the kids at the beach wedding party managed to stay in the wter for nearly an hour, but that reduced them to a shivering mass of chattering teeth. On a more serious note, falling out of a boat in mid-lake can be lethal, due to hypothermia, so never boat alone.