by Aaron Feigenbaum.
Nestled in the majestic peaks and of the Sierra Nevada mountains on the California-Nevada border, Lake Tahoe is a natural gem that has delighted visitors for over a century. Lake Tahoe and its surroundings were first inhabited by the Washoe tribe and became home in the late 19th century to thousands of miners with the discovery of the Comstock Lode. Lake Tahoe continued to expand after WWII and became a household name when it hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, one of the largest ski areas in the U.S. Nowadays, Lake Tahoe boasts an average of 3 million visitors a year, more than both the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Parks. Whether you’re there for skiing and snowmobiling in the winter, hiking and boating in the summer, or simply admiring the view and getting some R&R, Lake Tahoe offers year-round activities for whole family and some of the most captivating scenery in North America.
What to Do and See:
Squaw Valley Resort: This ski resort on Tahoe’s north shore is one of the largest in the U.S. and played host to the 1960 Winter Olympics. An aerial tramway takes passengers 8,200 feet up with breathtaking views, as well as numerous entertainment and shopping opportunities once you get to the top. And there’s plenty more shopping and fun to be found in Squaw Village just nearby.
Heavenly Resort: On the south shore at over 10,000 feet this ski resort is the highest in Lake Tahoe as well as being one of Lake Tahoe’s most visited and largest resorts. Their ski season usually runs from mid-November through mid-April but, like Squaw, you don’t have to be a winter sports fan to come here. Heavenly resort features its own village as well with no shortage of amenities.
Tahoe City: This bustling vacation town is a great place to not only meet the locals and shop, but also to rent a boat or get a guided tour of the clear, blue waters of the lake. The city has its own bus system for your convenience.
Hiking: Hiking opportunities are plentiful in Lake Tahoe with some of the best spots including the gorgeous forest and meadows just outside Tahoe City and the Dolder Nature Trail which passes by a lighthouse and a beach. For more adventurous visitors there’s Eagle Creek ice climb and the trail to the summit of Mt. Tallac with a jaw-dropping view of the lake and its surroundings.
Off the beaten path: If you want to ski in Lake Tahoe but don’t want the hassle of crowds, try Granlibakken just outside Tahoe City (shuttle provided). It may not offer the same grandeur as Heavenly or Squaw, but if you’re looking for something intimate and cozy then Granlibakken is a good bet. Some off the beaten path activities in Lake Tahoe include horseback riding, mountain biking, and 4-wheeling. A variety of adventure tours can be arranged through companies such as Tahoe Adventure Company.
Eat and Daven:
There are no Kosher restaurants, but Kosher food can be bought from supermarkets in the area such as Safeway or the Trader Joe’s in nearby Carson City, NV (20-30 miles away). Otherwise, you can contact the newly established Chabad Jewish Center Lake Tahoe for catering options (menu available online). The Chabad, established just last August by Rabbi Mordechai Richler and his wife Shaina, is the only frum shul in the area.
One of the easiest ways to get to Lake Tahoe is via the Reno-Tahoe International Airport which is an hour’s drive to the Lake via the I-80. There is also the small Lake Tahoe airport. Most visitors though prefer the scenic drive through the mountains. It’s a 7-8 hour drive from L.A. and the roads in the Tahoe area can be slippery, even in warm weather, so be sure to bring tire chains. You can also take Amtrak connecting from San Francisco or hop on a resort-sponsored shuttle going from San Francisco, Reno, Sacramento and elsewhere.
•From the lake’s first sighting by a person of European descent (John Fremont) in 1844 until 1945, Lake Tahoe was called Lake Bigler after California’s pro-secessionist governor, despite objections from Unionists. “Tahoe” is derived from the Washoe term for lake.
•Lake Tahoe was considered for national park status in 1935 but park inspectors deemed the area too commercially developed and the proposal was abandoned. However, parts of Lake Tahoe are covered by both the National Forest and State Park systems.
•The lake never freezes and is the second deepest lake in the U.S. (16th worldwide).