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near and far. 

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72 Perfect Hours In Lake Tahoe: Best Things to Do

North America

This blog was created in collaboration with Quin Schrock & Visit Reno Tahoe

The best things to do in Lake Tahoe, how to spend 3 days in Lake Tahoe

“The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious. And why shouldn’t it be? — it is the same the angels breathe.” –  Mark Twain, writing about Lake Tahoe in Roughing It

***Some of the links in this post are affiliate links that earn me a commission at no extra charge to you. This post was written in collaboration with Visit Reno Tahoe but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Best things to do in Tahoe: Scent Of A Happy Place

The scent of pine sap and dirt elicited a flood of vivid childhood memories. It was summertime and I was maybe 5 years old. There was a cool breeze coming off the lake. We scrambled from one giant boulder to the next, avoiding the hot sand that flowed below us like lava. 

Eventually we found the magic spot. Cool water temperature replaced the hot lava and Kris put a piece of bacon on the end of a clothes hanger. He carefully lowered the bacon down between two rocks with the precision of a surgeon. We watched wide eyed as a small clawed creature emerged from the darkness into the blue, clear water. It made its way over to the bacon and latched on! Our little hearts raced with excitement. Crawdad!

There were parents around somewhere. Keeping tabs on us from a distance, in that passive way that parents do when they feel at home. They were in their happy place – and so we were free to roam. The world was our oyster, and this place was our pearl. It was as if happy places were an imprintable trait. An emotion and a place, tangled up together forever in the cellular building blocks of our being.

A blond woman sitting on the rocks surrounded by crystal clear blue water at Secret Cove at Lake Tahoe.

Hanging out on the rocks at Secret Cove at Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe – The Happiest Place On Earth

Humans don’t use emotional memory that often. We tend to focus on details rather than feelings when we’re trying to remember something. But the nose can sniff out nostalgia- and there was only one place that could transport me back to those endless childhood summers. There was only one place with that perfect combination of pine and dirt wafting through the fresh mountain air — Lake Tahoe in the summer season.

It seemed like a lifetime ago since I’d scrambled around on these rocks, but Tahoe had left its mark, and now all those dormant memories were waking up. A warm, safe feeling washed over me: a happy place feeling.

My parents both grew up in Reno. They met at Wooster High, stayed friends at the University of Nevada, and got married shortly after my dad started graduate school. They moved away for work, but their friends, families, and formative years remained in Nevada. And so, every summer my parents would pack my little brother Kris and I up, and we’d make the road trip back “home” to Reno, from wherever we happened to live at the time.

Road trips were rough at that age. There were no smart phones, iPads, or even portable gaming systems yet. It was just us, the back seat, and I Spy. But we looked forward to it every year. Reno was a playground, full of long lost friends, and Lake Tahoe summer activites were a vast, natural extension of that playground. The first place my parents took me hiking. The first place I experience the liberation of sleeping under the stars. And the first place to shape the grown human I would eventually become.

An old photo of two children playing in sand on the shore of Lake Tahoe with mountains in the distance
An old photo of a man hiking with a child in a backpack carrier on his back with green brush in the background
An old photo of two children in swimsuits standing on rocks with water in the background at Lake Tahoe
An old picture of a large family with children and adults sitting on rocks at the edge of the water at Lake Tahoe

The Best Things To Do in Lake Tahoe

As time passed (and people too), our trips down to Reno became fewer and farther between, until eventually it faded into a distant memory. Then one day—not that long ago—I passed a huge “Visit RenoTahoe” billboard in Seattle. The sign said “No Guts. No Story,” and featured a girl jumping into the famous blue water, snow capped mountains raising up in the distance.

Those dormant pine-filled memories stirred deep inside, even though it had been years since I’d been to Tahoe – like lots and lots of years. It was time to go back. Time to taste the air again.

While South Lake Tahoe, Tahoe City and even Truckee on the California side of Tahoe often get the most attention, like all of my childhood trips to Lake Tahoe, this Tahoe itinerary starts in Reno – just a short drive of less than an hour from Tahoe.

Although it’s not the same Reno I grew up visiting. As it turns out, “The Biggest Little City in the World” has really cleaned up since I was a kid. It has embraced its plentiful recreational opportunities, and reimagined the central area as a place to wander and gather outside, rather than inside the dark confines of a casino. 

Downtown Reno’s scenic Riverwalk District is full of new and delicious places to eat and drink, an amphitheater and a kayak park, and on trend coffee shops to fuel up before or after adventures in the area.

Of course once you reach Tahoe itself, the area is a haven for nature lovers, water sports, bike trails and cruising on the lake. While the area boasts world-class skiing during winter, I want to share the best things to do in Tahoe during the summer months. 

There are plenty of Lake Tahoe activities for every kind of adventurer and as you can already tell from my nostalgic memories, there are plenty of things to do for the whole family too.

A blond woman sitting on a rock surrounded by crystal clear blue water in Lake Tahoe
The crystal-clear waters of Lake Tahoe

Mountain Bike the Flume Trail

I’ve never been much of a biker. It’s one of those activities I’ve always really wanted to like, but never have. It might have to do with an incident when I was younger involving steep switchbacks and shale. Maybe. 

I mention this only so you understand that when I tell you that riding the Flume Trail was one of the cooler outdoor activities I’ve done, you know I’m serious! I would do it again in a heartbeat. It’s truly one of the world’s premier biking trails, and I’d recommend it to anyone headed to Lake Tahoe who wants to experience the area’s bike paths.

The Flume Trail mountain bike ride is a moderate 14 mile ride (that doesn’t involve shale or steep switchbacks). The ride itself is not particularly difficult or technical, but it does traverse across several steep sections, so you’ll want to be comfortable with a little bit of exposure. As the Visit Reno Tahoe slogan goes, “No Guts. No Story.”

Take the shuttle van in the morning from Flume Trail Mountain Bikes to Spooner Lake State Park and ride the Flume Trail one way back to your car at their bike rental shop and café. 

The shuttle is first come first serve and leaves multiple times a day. It gets busy on summer weekends, so get there early. Individuals renting bikes from the shop (as opposed to bringing their own) get priority on the shuttle – fair is fair!

A top down view of a woman mountain biking along the cliff of Flume Trail with many trees down below at Lake Tahoe, which is bright blue

Mountain biking on the Flume Trail at Lake Tahoe.

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Soak In The Sun At Bonsai Rock

After a rewarding morning on the Flume Trail, you’ll be ready for a swim, and some much deserved rest and relaxation down at the lake. Luckily, you’re just a few minutes away from Bonsai Rock!

Nestled high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Tahoe’s water is vast, azure blue, and clear waters like any swimming pool. It’s also one of the deepest lakes in the world. Really deep – it’s the second deepest lake and the largest alpine lake in the United States behind Crater Lake in Oregon. 

Off the rocky coast just a couple miles south of Flume Trail Mountain Bikes, is a large boulder with four small trees growing out of a crevice at the top. This is Bonsai Rock. And it’s one of my favorite places to visit in Lake Tahoe. 

Parking is along the side of the road, and it’s a short but steep walk down to the water from there. Its minimalist beauty makes it a popular spot for sun worshipers and nature photographers alike – making it the perfect Lake Tahoe summer activity.

Bonsai and other rocks in the Nevada Lake Tahoe area make great platforms for jumping into the cool water for a refreshing swim – one of the best ways to experience the refreshing waters of Lake Tahoe. 

But a general word of warning: the water depths of Lake Tahoe can be very deceptive due to its clarity, and the depth is always changing with the seasons, so always check the water for obstacles before doing anything crazy!

Sun bathing at Bonsai Rock.

Sun bathing at Bonsai Rock.

A blond woman in a red swimsuit sitting on a rock surrounded by clear blue water on the shores of Lake Tahoe
Soaking in the sun at Lake Tahoe

An aerial photo of a woman Paddle boarding at Lake Tahoe between the large boulders close to the shoreline- one of the best summer activities in Lake Tahoe
Paddle boarding at Lake Tahoe

Paddle Board from Sand Harbor to Secret Cove

There are pristine sandy beaches and photogenic lookout points stretching down the coast of the east shore for miles along Route 28 on the Nevada sides of the lake, heading south from Incline Village. 

When it comes to Lake Tahoe summer activities, one of the best things to do in Lake Tahoe is paddle boarding or kayaking. Every inch of the approximately 5 mile paddle from Sand Harbor to Secret Cove is stunning, so there’s no need to rush it. Meander as far as you’d like, and head back to Sand Harbor when you’re finished. 

You’ll paddle past plenty of popular beaches and rock formations, but it’s not hard to claim your own little piece of alpine paradise if solitude is what you’re after – there are plenty of opportunities. And when you do, you just might not ever want to leave.

Plan on launching your “water vessel” from Sand Harbor visitor center first thing in the morning (the parking lot fills up fast), and head south. Most other access points for the coast require you to carry your board relatively long distances down steep and often slippery trails to the water – which can be tedious and awkward.

The convenience of Sand Harbor’s boat launch and easy access is well worth the $15/day fee, you’ll find picnic areas and sandy shoreline perfect for a beach day.

Note: Secret Cove is generally accepted as a nude beach, so don’t be surprised if there’s more nature on display than you bargained for!

Paddle boarding with friends at Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe.

Tahoe paddle boarding with friends at Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe.

A man doing a backflip off a tall boulder into the clear turquoise water of Lake Tahoe in the summer
Jumping into Lake Tahoe

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Watch The Sunrise over Emerald Bay

The view overlooking Emerald Bay State Park is perhaps Lake Tahoe’s most iconic – and “one of the most photographed locations on earth.” While it’s awe-inspiring at any time, its location on the southwest corner of the lake makes it a great spot to experience sunrise.

Our morning there, we were lucky enough to have the view to ourselves. We stuck around until the sun was high in the sky, watching the deep blue water come to life in the ever-changing light –  the perfect time for some beautiful photography of the Lake.

For all of my favorite photography destinations at Lake Tahoe (including many from this post), and the gear you’ll need to capture the shot yourself, check out The Best Photo Locations At Lake Tahoe.

If you want to get closer to Emerald Bay, consider a day trip sightseeing cruise of the beautiful bay.

Emerald Bay

Emerald Bay lookout at Lake Tahoe.

Emerald Bay lookout at Lake Tahoe.

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Hike The Rubicon Trail in D.L. Bliss State Park

After sunrise at Emerald Bay, head to D.L. Bliss State Park and the trailhead for the Rubicon Trail. There are plenty of hiking trails at Lake Tahoe, but the Rubicon is probably my favorite and one of the most popular hikes.

The trail winds its way along the coast, sometimes along the miles of shoreline with secluded coves, other times enjoying expansive cliffside views high above the lake. While it’s not a short hike, it’s a classic for a reason and the Rubicon Trail is a great introduction to hiking in the High Sierra Nevadas!

Views from the Rubicon Trail at D.L. Bliss State Park, Lake Tahoe.

Views from the Rubicon Trail at D.L. Bliss State Park, Lake Tahoe.

A blonde woman attached to a rope, rock climbing up a large boulder beside the blue waters of Lake Tahoe at D.L. Bliss State Park. In the distance a figure can be seen cliff jumping into the water
D.L. Bliss State Park Lake Tahoe

The rocky, tree covered shoreline of Lake Tahoe. The clear water is turquoise and boaters can be seen out on the water
D.L. Bliss State Park

Take a Lake Tahoe Boat Trip

Once you’ve hiked, biked, and paddled around Tahoe’s shores, it’s time to get out and explore those deep blues! Tahoe is a boater’s paradise with water activities almost year-round. 

Whether you want a boat ride to sail into the sunset or surf some wakes, Lake Tahoe has you covered. Jump on one of the many tours or rent your own boat for a day (or more) out on the water!

There’s no shortage of fun things to do in Lake Tahoe. In fact, the lake is so big and there are so many activities, and places to see, that it can be hard to know where to start. That being said, you don’t need a lot of time to experience the best of what Lake Tahoe has to offer – it will all come with unforgettable experiences! 

But one of my favorite things about the lake, is that you don’t need a lot of time. You can do a lot of what Lake Tahoe has to offer, use this Tahoe travel guide and take some beautiful photos along the way, all in a long weekend!

For more summer adventures around Lake Tahoe check out my blog post about all the beautiful places to see around Reno, or my favorite Photo Locations At Lake Tahoe! A huge thank you to Visit Reno Tahoe  for partnering with us to make this experience possible. 


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  1. @chris_debonga says:

    Fantastic images again! Very visually inspiring, now I wanna go out on another fun outdoor adventure and shoot shoot shoot 🙂

    • Thanks so much Chris! I’m really lucky that I get to travel with Quin – he always does such an amazing job of helping me capture the moments in a way that really portrays what the experience was like. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos! Have fun on your next outdoor adventure. 🙂

  2. Andrea Ference says:

    Jess you need to stop this – adding places to my bucket list that is. Your writing always brings me this amazing feeling of both nostalgia and wanderlust. I am so so glad that you decided to start writing for everyone.

  3. Courtney says:

    Ah so good jess! I love reading your writing. So inspiring!!!!! and the baby pics. Too good. Loved that section.

    • Thanks Courtney! It was so much fun going through the old photo albums to find those. Brought back so many good memories. And it really made me want to get some photo books made. There’s just something about holding them in your hands!

  4. K.P. says:

    Jess! You are freakin the best! This is amazing. Super cute pics as a baby 🙂
    Secret Cove is definitely best to be kept as a secret lol!
    – K.P.

    • Lol K.P. it was pretty funny actually! I knew it was a nude beach, but I still wasn’t mentally prepared haha. It’s never the people you think it’s going to be. 😉

  5. Maria says:

    We honeymooned 4 days last May at Tahoe and it blew our minds how beautiful it was. Itching to go back! Thanks for the post!

    • No way! What a wonderful place to honeymoon. I swear it’s like an alpine paradise – the best of both worlds!! I hope you get to go back soon. Maybe it could become a sort of tradition!

  6. Jessie Johnson says:

    Hey Jess, love this blog the best out of every one she far! I was wondering if you use any kind of water proofing for camera gear? Beach pictures are great but I’m terrified of wrecking my camera!!

    • Hey Jessie! That’s so awesome to hear! It was definitely a really special trip for me, so I’m glad that you enjoyed reading about it. We actually don’t use any sort of water proofing for the camera gear while shooting. But we do keep it all inside a waterproof backpack while we are traveling from spot to spot. It is kind of nerve racking at times though!

  7. Nikki says:

    Hey Jessie awesome post! I’ve been following along with you and Quinn on your adventures for about a year now. My parents live in Reno and we always visit Tahoe when we’re in town. It’s definitely come a long way in recent years. I feel like the area gets a bad wrap and is somewhat unappreciated so thank you for representing it so beautifully!

    • Nikki says:

      Sorry Jess* lol

    • Hi Nikki! Thank you so much for the comment. Everyone called me Jessie when I was little! So it seemed normal to me. 🙂 I totally agree with you. Reno is so underrated and it’s been really fun getting everyones reactions the last week or so. It’s really a wonderful location, and a great gateway to a number of really beautiful areas in the Sierra Nevadas.

  8. Sofia P says:

    Your Blog is one of the Main Reasons I want to vacation around the Incline Village area in the Nevada section. Am a California resident just 2 hours away from LT but have never been. Your Blog and Instagram are amazing and hopefully one day I’ll be able to visit the places you have. Until then have fun 🙂

    • That’s great to hear Sofia! The entire area around Incline Village and up toward Sand Harbor is so beautiful. I think you will really love it! I hope that you are able to make the trip out soon. You’re so close! 🙂

  9. Ricky Stephen says:

    I just read a blog for the first time in my life and It was Awesome. The photos are really nice.

  10. Crystal says:

    Thank you for this post. We’re staying at Lake Tahoe for our honeymoon, so this gives me some ideas of places to check out.

    • Awesome! I was just talking to someone that spent their honeymoon at Tahoe and had a wonderful time. It’s such a beautiful place, and is basically the perfect combination of stunning alpine scenery and tropical looking water! I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time. Congratulations Crystal! XX

  11. GG says:

    Great post. I think I was actually at Secret Cove a few days before you! I’ll have to add the Flume Trail to my list for next time. Don’t hate me but I’m a copy writer… You might want to fix the first paragraph, it says "Mark Twain, writting" instead of writing.

    • LOL I would never hate someone for pointing out a typo! They are so distracting. . . especially in the very first paragraph. It’s so crazy how you can read over something a million times and still miss that stuff. So thank you! Definitely check out the Flume Trail next time. It’s a cool change of pace!

  12. Kellyydawn says:

    I’m planning our anual road trip and Tahoe is definitely on the list! These pictures are amazing!! Love your ig and blog xxx

    • Aww thank you so much Kelly! That’s so awesome to hear. And I’m stoked that Tahoe is on your summer road trip itinerary. It’s such a special place and I’m sure you will love it. Have fun! X

  13. Anthony Monge says:

    I got turned on to your blog through your IG account, as i follow a lot of hiking and outdoorsy people and stuff. I absolutely love your blog. Your writing style is so inviting and the photographs to support your story does not fall short in the least. Thank you for sharing your adventures with the us. Kudos to your photographer as well.

    • I can’t tell you how much I appriciate that Anthony! The blog is kind of my passion project, so whenever people take the time to check it out it really means a lot to me. I’m stoked to hear you like it! And I will definitely give Quin some Kudos for you. 🙂

  14. Mayra says:

    I loved this! My husband and I are planning our first wedding anniversary trip and we are going to Tahoe! your post got me even more excited about going there and trying all these fun activities! We definitely want to do paddle boarding from Sand Harbor to Secret Cove, but I was wondering, are the 5 miles one way? How long did it take you to get there and back?
    Loving your ig and blog! <3

    • Hi Mayra! What a wonderful place to spend your anaversary. Sand Harbor to Secret Cove is about 5 miles one way – so 10 round trip. It took us about 6 hours. But we stopped to take photos a lot!

  15. Jason Matias says:

    My gf and I are road-tripping from Seattle to here (and Yosemite and beyond) for our anniversary. We’re going to sleep in the jeep as much as we can, we have a bed in it and all. Where are some good spots around the lake to park for the night?

    Thanks in advance,
    Jason & Angelina

    • Hi Jason! That sounds like an amazing anniversary trip. So many beautiful places between Seattle and Yosemite. Unfortunately parking around Lake Tahoe is actually pretty difficult. There are a lot of private communities, and their top priority seems to be insuring that people don’t free camp in their neighborhood. That being said, there are quite a few camp grounds around the lake, or you can just drive up one of the highways away from the lake a little ways and find a nice level pull-off or side road (that’s what we did).

  16. Cindy says:

    This makes me so unbelievably excited for our family trip next month. These pictures are stunning!

  17. Diane says:

    Hi Jess, Love your IG and just found your awesome blog! Did you rent your paddle board for this trip? If so, from where?

    Thanks for all the great posts- you’re a true inspiration! Diane

    • Hi Diane! So glad you found the blog! We actually had our own paddle boards with us. But you can rent paddle boards right at Sand Harbor – which is where we put our boards in the water. It’s super convenient, and a beautiful area to paddle. 🙂

  18. Brian says:

    Love that close-up photo of you on the rock, assuming indeed that it is you. Fabulous!

  19. Destiny says:

    Hi Jess! I sent you a long, annoying DM on Instagram before realized you had a blog! My question is, where did you pay the $10 fee at the Sand Bar? We hope to beat the crowd, but do you know if the fee place will be open around 8am? Thanks in advance!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Destiny! There is a tole booth when you drive into the parking lot where a person will collect the entrance fee. I believe the park opens at 8am, so you should be good!

  20. Sarah Alberg says:

    Planning to do a paddle based on your rec! How long did it take you to do the 5 miles all the way down to Secret Cove? About where were you located in those photos with the retriever on the board?
    Wondering what I can get access to in a 3 hour rental time from Sand Harbor, thanks!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Sarah, I would say the 10 mile round trip paddle took us about 8 hours. But we were stopping a lot to take photos and hang out. So that’s probably not a very good indication of how long it would take a normal person! In perfect conditions I would plan on about 2-3 hours to get to Secret Harbor – and a lot longer if it’s windy. One of the photos with the Retriever was taken at Secret Harbor, the other was taken about half way there. Have fun!

  21. Emily Selner says:

    Hi Jess!
    My best friend and I will be traveling to Tahoe in about a week! I’m obsessed with your photographs! I’m curious to know where you found the rope ladder on the rock in the last picture? Was it easy to find and access?

  22. Betsy says:

    For anyone choosing to launch your paddle board out of Sand Harbor, be warned that if you aren’t wearing a life vest, and if the Park Ranger’s are present, you will get a ticket (and they’re not cheap!).

    • Jess Dales says:

      Great reminder Betsy! And I actually don’t think it matters if you launch from Sand Harbor or not. If you are on a "water vessel" you are supposed to have a life preserver of some sort. 🙂

  23. laura says:

    lovely blog so beautifully said about the lake -Tahoe wonderful trucking, is also there…and that’s my favorite adventurous seriously i liked this blog…Thanks for sharing!

  24. Marina says:

    So I started reading your blog last night on my phone and this morning I am sitting at my desk and continuing on your adventure. Absolutely loved this post! I follow you on IG and you are one of my favorite adventure photographers along with @everchanginghorizons 😉 You guys are such an inspiration, this blog brings me so much joy. I can’t wait to travel like this. Sometimes its hard to balance life with your dreams and it is so nice to see people who do that. I have two little girls 6, and 3 and I am looking forward to taking them to places like these. I am building them up to be adventurous and love the outdoors. I really liked the old pictures of your family. Thanks again for posting such quality content, your pictures and words are magical.

  25. Gloria says:

    Hi Jess,

    Thank you so much for your post, I loved it! Can you please tell me how long it took you to hike The Rubicon Trail in D.L Bliss State Park? 🙂

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Gloria! Thank you so much. Really glad to hear you enjoyed it. We spent about two hours on the trail this time around, but we did not complete the entire thing. I’ve did the trail a few times as a kid, but I can’t remember how long it took. Sorry!

  26. Tri Tran says:

    hi Jess,
    Can we do a normal hiking at Flume Trail?

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi there! Yes, you can hike along the Flume Trail, but it would be a pretty long walk. You can also hike to Marlette Lake, which is on the way to the Flume Trail and quite nice.

  27. Kenzie Donovan says:

    Hi Jess,
    Loved your piece on Lake Tahoe. Any suggestions around what area to stay? I plan on camping there with my husband in August.

    • Jess Dales says:

      So glad you liked it Kenzie! August should be a beautiful time to be there. I’ve always stayed in the Incline Village area, but I’m actually not too sure about camp grounds there – we generally just park the van somewhere random. I’d probably look into D.L Bliss State Park Campground. I’m sure it gets pretty busy, but that area is so beautiful!

  28. Jared says:

    The picture on you i.g saying the Tahoe blog is now up , is a very distinct photo I’ve never seen in Tahoe . It’s an over / under warranty shot with a nice crack down to China under water. I read thru your blog hoping to get info but now I’m thinking maybe the image is from somewhere else ? Ive been living in Tahoe for 9 years now . Would love to know if that place is really in Tahoe . Thanks bye

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Jared, I looked through all of my Tahoe posts and I can’t seem to find what you are talking about. My guess is that it’s actually a post announcing that my Florida blog is up. The photo you are describing sounds a lot more like the springs in Florida than anything in Tahoe. But if you send me a DM with the post I can let you know for sure. Sorry for the confusion!

  29. Daisy says:

    Hi Jess, I am planning my bachelorette to Lake Tahoe but don’t know which area to stay in. I have never been so I literally have no clue as to which part (North or South) would be best. Any advice would be much appreciated!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hey Daisy! Congrats on your engagement! Generally when I go to Tahoe I stay near Inclube Village because it’s close to a lot of the beaches I like to shoot at. But I get more of a part vibe from South Lake Tahoe. So, assuming you had a more traditional bachelorette part planned, I might look into that. South Lake Tahoe has a lot of the bigger casinos and hotels on the Nevada side, and it’s still very pretty. You really can’t go wrong though!

  30. Yorcelin says:

    Hi Jess!
    i am planing to go to Lake Tahoe for the best time with my husband this Spring/summer. But i don’t know which side to go South or North. I pretty much want to follow your "72 perfect hours…" so was blog in North or South. I am sorry if you mentioned that in your blog and i didn’t catch it. i just feel so lost and i wan to start planning.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi! There are activities from both North and South Lake Tahoe on my itinerary, so you could theoretically stay on either shore. Whenever I’ve gone I stay in the Incline Village area (North Shore), and that is closer to most of the activities on the list. I hope you have a wonderful trip!!

  31. Sarah says:

    Hi Jess! Is it nice to go to Lake Tahoe in March? It’ll be my first visit. Where would you recommend as base for the visit? 🙂 Your photos are fabulous!!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Sarah! So sorry for the delayed response. Where you stay honestly depends a lot on what you are planning on doing while there. In the past I have always stayed near Incline, but I’m generally there for the beaches and water sports. If I was there to Ski then I would probably stay much closer to the resort I was planing on skiing at. Have so much fun!

  32. Aine says:

    Wow what an amazing place, water so blue and clean, I can see why you automatically go back there every year.

    The photographs were breathtaking and so inspiring.

    I could almost feel the wind on my face, the sound of the water moving and caressing the large stones. The sun flowing down onto that beautiful blue water not just soaking the stones but caressing every inch of that wonderful place.

    Enjoy your adventure on your bike, on the water and rocks, and it definitely hold wonderful memories of your life in that amazing place.

  33. Thuy Pham says:

    Jess! I enjoy keeping up with your blog – thank you so much for sharing your wonderful experiences! I wanted to ask your advice on what to do in Lake Tahoe in March (as in this weekend)! We wanted to do something outdoorsy (less skiing, more hiking and sight seeing). We wanted to go kayaking but unfortunately I traveled From South Carolina and I didn’t come prepared with the appropriate winter and waterproof gear! Do you have any suggestions for a quick 24h trip (drive in Friday night, leave sat night), such as cool sights to see, etc? Thanks so much!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Thuy! Sorry I didn’t get to this comment sooner. I’m guessing you are there right now. Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of winter experience in Lake Tahoe – outside of skiing. I know that they have gotten a TON of snow this year, so I’m really not sure how many other activities that I’m familiar with would be accessible, especially without winter gear. I do hope you found some fun stuff to do though!

  34. Kimberly Bone says:

    What is the weather like in the summer? We are going in the middle of June and I’m wondering what to expect.
    Thanks for a great article with fantastic pictures!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Kimberly! I actually haven’t been to Tahoe in the summer sense I was little, but I remember it being quite nice! June is still pretty early in the season for that elevation, so it probably wont be too hot yet, but it probably will be very pleasant during the day! Have a wonderful trip!

    • Jess Dales says:

      P.S.! Just for reference these photos were all taken just before Memorial Day last year (so the end of May). 🙂

  35. Don L says:

    Hi Jess, I enjoyed reading this blog and viewing your IG! I will be in Lake Tahoe for a few days and am an avid hiker and recently into landscape photography. I’d love to hear your thoughts on any challenging hikes with great views for photos. Thanks in advance!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Don! To be honest most of my favorite views at Lake Tahoe for shooting are along the lake shore, and don’t involve difficult hikes. But I would recommend Mt. Tallac Trail and the Rubicon Trail for hiking. Have fun!

  36. Giuliano Dias says:

    Hi Jess!
    Beautiful photos and great view.
    I’m from Brazil and I’m planning to visit Lake Tahoe in October.
    Is it a good time to go?
    And another question, the photos were made with which camera and lens? Excellent job!

  37. Bailey says:

    Hi Jess!
    I absolutely love your blog. I have also been going to Lake Tahoe since I was little and am always looking for new parts of the lake to explore. I was wondering, was the rope ladder near the D.L. Bliss hike? It looks so fun but also like a great view point!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Bailey! Yeah, that rope swing was down off the Rubicon Trail toward the beginning. I think it would be easiest to access if from the water if it’s still there. 🙂

  38. Marnix says:

    Waouh, waouh, waouh….. I’m from Belgium, and I was lucky to go there when I was 10, I’m 47 now, it’s certainly one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen, I’d like to go back and show this wonderful place to my family. Thank you a lot for sharing these amazing pictures and the blog.
    P.s. ( Sorry for my english )

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Marnix! No need to apologize! Your english is perfect. I’m happy to hear that you had the opportunity to visit Lake Tahoe when you were younger. It truly is a very special place and I hope you get the chance to visit it again someday with your family!

  39. Mimi says:

    Oh wow, you article is so detailed and photos are stunning. I’m sure you have inspired lots of people. To be honest, I’m have no idea where to visit this summer until I read this writing. So I decide I will escape from the city for a while and do a solo trip to Incline Village and Sand Harbor in the next few days. I am intend to SUP boarding from Sand Harbor – Secret Cove – Sand Harbor just like you advise, do you think it’s possible to do this water trail in 8 hours? including spending sometime relaxing and bathing. Plus, I have never SUP before but I do work out regularly, is it ok?
    Much appreciate if you can give me some more info 🙂 Thanks a bunch Jess <3

    • Hi! So glad the blog inspired you. I think that you could probably do it in 8 hours – but it’s a little hard to say because you have never done SUP boarding before. But the awesome thing about that paddle, is that the entire coastline is beautiful, so even if you don’t make it all the way to Secret Cove it’s not a big deal! Just paddle as far as you feel comfortable, and then turn around. 🙂

  40. Cacilie Bouchard says:

    I love your post and I would love to go hiking and do SUP in Tahoe! I was wandering since it’s a long journey to the secret cove, what kind of bag do you bring to keep you camera, wallet and phone? Also, do you ever plan on doing a sup blog like you must on camera?? Thank you so much

    • Hi Cacilie! I’m glad you love the post! We use a dry bag to keep all our belongings in while we paddle. It’s actually a dry bag backpack – so it comes in really handy for hiking it wet places too. Then when we need to take something out of the bag, we are just very careful. I’m not sure exactly what you are asking in your second question. . . sorry!

  41. Shauna says:

    So, the first few pictures with the rocks and shallow water, is that Emerald Bay?

    • No, those are not at Emerald Bay. They are actually taken at a number of different locations. There are rocks and shallow water along most of Tahoe’s coastline – it’s not one specific location. But if you don’t want to explore at all, I’d recommend Sand Harbor.

  42. Brenda F says:

    Hi! I’ve been wanting to visit Tahoe for a few years and still haven’t had the opportunity. I’m now married with 2 littles (1 and 3) and really want to take a small vacation out that way. I love all the places you have pictured here! I live in So Cal, and haven’t decided if we’re driving or flying out there. Would you recomment North or South lake Tahoe for a family with littles? I really want to visit the places with the beautiful blue clear waters. thanks!

    • Hi Brenda! I’m pretty partial to North Lake Tahoe, in particular the Incline area. It feels a lot less commercial to me than South Lake Tahoe, and it has that beautiful clear blue water you are looking for. Although to be honest, you can find that almost anywhere. Sand Harbor is probably the easiest way to enjoy it though, and that is on the North Side of the lake, not far from Incline. You can hang out on the beach there, or even rent boats to get out on the water with.

  43. Brittany says:

    Hi Jess! I’ve been following you since your first post about Lake Tahoe and this trip soars to the top of my travel list. My boyfriend and I are picking up a campervan in San Francisco and spending two days in Lake Tahoe! Do you have any recommendations on somewhere to set up camp and park the van in the area? Thanks! I’m looking forward to visiting the places in your photos.

    • Hi Brittany! To be honest it’s a little hard to describe where any of the places we have camped out are – because they are not official parking lots, or destinations. We mostly just find quiet pull-offs on the road up to the lake. There are a couple places we have slept along the road (where people park to get down to the water), but it can be pretty loud that close to the main highway. Sorry I can’t be more helpful with that. But we’ve never had too much trouble finding spots. 🙂

  44. Min says:

    Thank you for such a great article, clear honest and short enough to read in a few minutes. Lake Tahoe is one of my favorite destinations in the world and you made It fee like an old friend, permeating your treasured moments there and magnificent photographs . Thank you

    • Thank you so much Min! I’m so glad you liked the blog. It’s such a special place, I’m glad that you’ve had the opportunity to experience it for yourself!

  45. Alex says:

    Thank you so much for the article. I am headed from Australia next April to San Francisco and this aricle had made me put Lake Tahoe on the list! What time of year was this when you went? Thanks

    • Hi Alex! These photos were taken at the beginning of June. It’s a great time of year generally to be there! If next year is anything like this year, there’s a good chance there would still be some snow in April. But it would still be beautiful.

  46. Sarah says:

    Hi Jess! You are a huge inspiration and I love your blog! We want to go to lake Tahoe next month and camp on the beach in our tent. Where would you recommend? We would love to be next to the water and we are open to backpacking in too!

    • Hi Sarah! I have never actually camped in a tent on the beach at Lake Tahoe. From the research I have done in the area though, I would look into Meeks Bay Resort, and Emerald Bay Boat Camp. I’ve always wanted to try out the boat camp – it sounds like a super unique experience where you actually boat-in to the campground in Emerald Bay State Park. I have a friend that has done it on a paddle board!

  47. Kayla Rowland says:

    Hi! If I want to be close to sand harbor where should I stay? Would love a cabin. Have an eleven month old

    • Hi Kayla! I would recommend checking out my blog post about the best photo spots in Lake Tahoe. I give a couple suggestions for accommodations in that post, as well as a link to even more places to stay! However, if you are looking for a cabin I would go ahead and check out Airbnb to see what’s available. 🙂

  48. Myriam Leforestier says:

    Wow, looks great !!

  49. Lindsay says:

    Where is the picture of the rock with the rope ladder?

  50. Jackie says:

    Heading here later this month and cant wait to check out bonsai rock this time!!

  51. Monique says:

    Hi Jess,

    Loved the blog on Lake Tahoe! We are heading Tahoe about two weeks from now. Can you please tell me if we can also launch our boards on Secret Cove?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Monique. I’m so happy that you like the blog post! You can definitely launch your boards from Secret Cove, but the beach is about a mile from where you park your car, so depending on the type of boards you have, and how heavy they are, that could be quite the trek. You could easily do it with inflatable boards though!

  52. Judy Soden says:

    I have lived in Reno since the early 60s and as a teenager Tahoe was the place to go. I remember when Sand Harbor didn’t have an entrance fee. I must point out one thing. You describe Tahoe’s water as cool. You should warn new visitors that it is downright cold and the first plunge will literally take your breath away. They will get used to it (numb?) and the swimming is refreshing, but you are the only person to describe the water as cool without crossing their fingers behind their back.

  53. views says:

    great lake to visit in cali

  54. Mollie says:


    Beautiful! I was wondering where you suggest staying in the area?

    • Thanks Mollie! For places to stay at Lake Tahoe, Hyatt Regency is hands down my favorite hotel. It’s on the water, which is actually surprisingly rare at Lake Tahoe. Plus, the hotel is in my favorite area of the lake – Incline.

      • Sara says:

        Staying there in a few weeks for my birthday. Dang, the prices sure have skyrocketed, but I was lucky enough to cash in some credit card points for a couple nights! Going to do that paddle! Can’t wait!!

  55. Edi says:

    Hey how long you need from sandy harbour to secret cove with standup paddeling ?

  56. Sweetneem says:

    Beautiful places and pictures. Thank you for sharing.

  57. Kelly UK Car says:

    Just saw this documentary on Discovery, That Tahoe Film. Super informative and entertaining.

  58. kat says:

    Hi! these pictures are stunning and so beautiful!! is there a specific location/trail for that one particular picture with the ladder? its gorgeous! also any recommendations for cliff diving spots? I’ve been trying to find some but am still unsure of where is best! thanks 🙂

    • Hi Kat! That spot is along the shore down from the Rubicon Trail in D.L. Bliss State Park. I don’t have gps coordinates or anything like that, but I hope it helps a little! That area also seems to be a pretty popular area for cliff jumping. . .

  59. Helene says:

    Hi Jess! LOVE your blog and all your photographs. Did you use a drone for your Lake Tahoe photos and videos? Thank you!

    • Hi Helene. None of the photos in the specific post were taken with a drone. They were all taken with a normal camera. But I have used a drone at Lake Tahoe before – you just need to make sure that you are in an area where they are permitted.

  60. MJ says:

    Hi Jess!
    I’m trying to plan a trip to Lake Tahoe with my boyfriend but his birthday is in February…He’s really big on hiking and being outdoors but I’m worried about the weather. In your opinion what would be a good time to visit Lake Tahoe for hiking and paddle boarding?

    • Hi! February would be a great time to visit Lake Tahoe if you’re interested in snow sports like skiing and snowboarding. But if you are more interested in spending time on the lake and hiking then I would recommend June-September for the warmest weather.

  61. Liz says:

    We’re heading to Tahoe next week and I was pleased to find your blog. We plan to follow your suggestions, weather permitting. Any thoughts on what to do with an extra day? And in the evenings, besides the casinos?

    • Hi Liz. I’m so sorry that I missed your comment. For what it’s worth I probably would have just suggested spending a down day out on the water or on a beach. I hope that you had a wonderful trip!

  62. Becky H says:

    Thank you for this post! It was beautifully written, and now Lake Tahoe is high on my list of places I must visit!

  63. J.T says:

    Hi Jess! what part of Lake Tahoe is this? I’ve been to L.T several times but in the winter, I’d love to take my family so we can experience the hiking and the paddle boarding. Thank you.

    • Hi J.T. These are all different locations at Lake Tahoe. For the most part, the photos are from the destination of the section they are located in. You can also check out my blog post about "The Best Photo Locations In Lake Tahoe."

  64. Jennifer says:

    Hi Jess,

    2020 has been a hard year for those of us with the heart of gypsy. This is beautifully written and inspirational.

    Stay healthy and blog more often! 🙂

  65. Esami says:

    I just discovered your blog. You are doing a great job. I hope someday you will fall the way to Turkey. the southern coast of Turkey (Mediterranean area) is very suitable for your format. Achievements.

  66. Akash says:

    Very nice compilation. Do you have a list for winter too?

  67. Lacy says:

    What month did you go when you took these pictures?

  68. Janie says:

    Thank you for a very nice written blog, very informative and inspiring!

  69. Puneeth Prahalad says:


  70. Sharukh says:

    Stumbled upon your blog by accident. I am a professional writer and currently writing on Lakes in Northern California. So, your blog popped up in one my search results. I must confess your blog is very informative and very good. On a personal front, I have my own travel blog (obviously, not as picturesque as yours), but it is – good. I write on travel in India because I’m from Mumbai, India. If you find time and you’re just browsing by do drop in at travelindiadestinations(dot)com and you’ll find me, Sharukh and my wife Sarah. Take Care.

    • Jessica Dales says:

      I’m so glad you like the blog! I would love to visit India someday. It’s still on my bucket list. I will have to keep your blog in mind if I ever have the opportunity to head that way.

  71. Flappy Bird says:

    One of the most impressive articles of the day

  72. Sherry says:

    These photos are so beautiful! I would love to know where that rock is with the ladder and someone jumping off? Looks like so much fun!

    • Jessica Dales says:

      Thank you! That is in DL Bliss State Park, although it was quite a few years ago now, so I’m not sure if it’s still there or not.

  73. Jennifer Connelly says:


  74. Christian Patino says:

    Isn’t there a nude beach in Lake Tahoe? Also, I had trouble parking. Any advice?

    • Jessica Dales says:

      Yes, as I mentioned in the blog post, Secret Cove is a nude beach. Although there are usually people there with swimsuits on as well. The best way to find parking at Lake Tahoe is to arrive early. I’d suggest getting to the lake around 8am for the best parking spots.

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Hi, I’m Jess, an outdoor enthusiast based in Seattle. I grew up exploring the Pacific Northwest, and early on was infected with the travel bug. I tried to suppress my wanderlust in pursuit of a traditional career path, but after a short stint as a lawyer, I left the confines of my office to get back in touch with my roots. Now, I wander the world taking photos, making memories, and sharing my love for travel with others!

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