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Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

One of the highest, largest, deepest, cleanest and coldest lakes in the world, Lake Tahoe is perched high above the Gold Country in an alpine bowl of forested granite peaks. Longer than the English Channel is wide, and more than a thousand feet deep, it's so cold that perfectly preserved cowboys who drowned over a century ago have been recovered from its depths. The lake lures weekenders from the Bay Area and beyond with sunny beaches in the summer, snow-covered slopes in the winter and bustling casinos year-round.


Lake Tahoe Such a lovely place. An amazing view to Emerald Bay with the only island in the lake.

South Lake Tahoe

In South Lake Tahoe , the lakeside's largest community, ranks of restaurants, modest motels, and pine-bound cottages stand cheek by jowl with the high-rise gambling dens of Stateline, just across the border in Nevada. If you happen to lose your money at the tables and slot machines, you can always explore the beautiful hiking trails, parks and beaches that populate the surrounding area.

Not far away, the prettiest part of the lake is along the southwest shore, at Emerald Bay State Park , ten miles from South Lake Tahoe, which has a number of good shoreline campgrounds . A mile from the parking lot, Vikingsholm is an unlikely reproduction Viking castle (summer daily 10am-4pm, hourly tours; $3). In Sugar Pine Point State Park , two miles north, the huge Ehrman Mansion (daily 11am-4pm; $3) is decorated in Thirties-era furnishings; the extensive lakefront grounds were seen in The Godfather II .

The rest of the 75-mile drive is lovely enough, though certainly not the "most beautiful drive in America" as one locally produced brochure touts; a better way to see it is to take a paddlewheel boat cruise on the MS Dixie II , from Zephyr Cove (three departures daily in summer, one in winter, call for times; $23-49; tel 775/588-3508, ), reached on a free shuttle from South Lake Tahoe, or sign up for other boat tours through one of the larger casinos.

Tahoe City

Tahoe City , the hub on the lake's northwestern shore, does not escape the tourists, but nevertheless manages to retain a more relaxed small-town attitude. Hwy-89 meets Hwy-28 at Lake Tahoe's only outlet, the Truckee River . The Gatekeeper's Cabin Museum (Wed-Sun 11am-5pm May-mid-June; daily 11am-5pm mid-June to mid-Oct; $2), at the mouth of the river, is a well-presented hodgepodge of artifacts from the nineteenth century, and has a good collection of native basketware. Rafting down the Truckee is a common activity in summer.

A couple of miles south along Hwy-89, 500 yards past the Kaspian picnic grounds, hike ten minutes up the unmarked trail to the top of Eagle Rock for amazing panoramic views of the royal-blue lake. Several miles further along the highway is popular Chamber's Beach .

Squaw Valley , the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, is situated five miles west of Tahoe City off of Hwy-89, although the original facilities (except the flame and the Olympic rings) are now swamped by the rampant development which has made this California's largest ski resort.

Lake Tahoe - page 2