Best views of Lake Tahoe

Best Views of South Lake Tahoe

From aspen-lined High Country trails to sun-dappled beaches, from powder-covered ski runs to wildflower-filled meadows, South Lake Tahoe's views are a 360-degree, year-round feast for the eyes and the soul.

Filled with trillions of gallons of pure Sierra snowmelt, Lake Tahoe is the USA's largest alpine lake and one of the country's oldest year-round vacation playgrounds. It also offers some of North America's most breathtaking views. 

While an excellent ring road makes it easy to circle Tahoe's 72-mile shoreline in three or four hours, to truly appreciate the lake's incredible views it's best to limit your explorations to just one shore per visit. If you're searching for wild vistas and endless photo opportunities, close to all the creature comforts of great resorts, restaurants and bars, look no further than South Lake Tahoe. 

At Pope Beach, generations of American families have bonded under the towering pines of Camp Richardson. Besides swimming and water sports, the area's bike tracks are a great way to take in the sights.  Don't miss the Taylor Creek Visitor Center, which offers scenic trails through stunning wetlands, and unique underwater views of a salmon run. 

Set aside at least a day to explore nearby D.L. Bliss State Park. Charge up your camera batteries, pull on your hiking boots and hit the Rubicon Trail, which offers incredible views over some of Tahoe's deepest and bluest waters. The trail twists through forests of aspen and cedar, drops down into picturesque beaches and bays, before crossing into neighboring Emerald Bay State Park. 

Emerald Bay State Park is home to the Eagle Falls Trail, a moderate two-mile hike, which takes in some of the Sierra High Country's finest views. If you're not up to hiking, pull over at Inspiration Point and enjoy the views to Fannette Island, then stroll down to the shore to explore Tahoe's hidden castle, Vikingsholm. 

Just 10 miles east of Emerald Bay is the lake's largest town, South Lake Tahoe. Hang out on the beaches, take in a concert at Lakeview Commons, then ride the scenic gondola up to Heavenly Mountain. It's a world-class ski resort in winter, and an adventure playground throughout the summer months. Whatever the season, Heavenly Mountain offers jaw-dropping views across the entire lake, all year round.

While Tahoe's southern beaches, mountain trails and roadside stops offer endless opportunities to soak up the lake's many moods, you'll find some of the best views out on the water. Head to historic Zephyr Cove and climb aboard the M.S. Dixie 2 or Tahoe Paradise for a daytime or dinner cruise. Or, if you'd prefer to take in the views in solitude, simply rent a kayak or SUP and start paddling! 

South Lake Tahoe is one of those special places that folks revisit time and time again, and once you've returned home you too will be tempted to come back. Just remember though, there's an entire lake to explore, and Tahoe is magic all year round, whichever shore you choose. And the views are always, always, to die for. 

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Best views of North Lake Tahoe

North Lake Tahoe views are unreal! Hike up a mountain, ride a chairlift or tram toward the sky or find a quiet spot on a dock in a bay to enjoy stunning vistas of this placid and beautifully blue lake in the Sierra Nevada.

North Lake Tahoe views are truly amazing year round, partly due to the area's 300 days of sunshine annually. Whether the lake is surrounded by winter's snow-covered mountains or dotted with watercraft in summer, your entire family will enjoy the beauty of this area.

For easy viewing, drive or bike along the road that circles the lake. Pull over at a public pier and walk onto the solid structure. Depending on the season, the water level may be close to the top of the pier or many feet lower. Interestingly, the top six feet of the huge lake is a water reservoir. Stop at the Lake Tahoe Dam in Tahoe City and watch water rushing into the Truckee River during spring snowmelt runoff. In autumn after a hot, rainless summer this may be a dry riverbed.

Another good lakeside spot is Kings Beach Recreation Area. Grills, picnic tables, restrooms and a playground make this a great spot for a family outing with a view. Sand Harbor State Park is similar, with the added bonus of a summer Shakespeare Festival.

Across the lake, the Sierra Nevada rises skyward. For much of the year, snow covers the mountaintops. Brilliant white reflects in calm water or complements whitecaps on the wide lake. Venture out onto the lake itself for views while enjoying watersports. You can rent paddleboards, canoes, kayaks, Jet Skis, sailboats and waterski boats or pontoon boats at North Lake Tahoe marinas in Homewood, Tahoe City, Tahoe Vista, Kings Beach and Incline Village. Find lots of options here for dining and drinking too - and with superb vistas.

If you plan on swimming, waterskiing or parasailing, be prepared for chilly water temperatures. The lake is very deep, up to 1,644 feet, so it stays rather cool year round. In July, the surface reaches a brisk, but refreshing 65 F. The water often warms to 75 F in late August and early September. If that's too cold, sunbathe on the boat while enjoying the views.

A ride on the Tahoe Gal out of Tahoe City offers a whole different view with lunch, brunch, happy hour, dinner, sunset or full-moon cruises. Some trips include a visit to beautiful Emerald Bay along Lake Tahoe's southwest shore. For two nights in July, a fireworks cruise lets you watch spectacular pyrotechnics over the lake.

Away from the water, climb a bit for aerial perspectives. Hike or bike in summer or ride chairlifts or gondolas in winter up Homewood, Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows, Northstar California Resort, Mt. Rose, or Diamond Peak mountain resorts for panoramic views of the lake. Strike a pose with the shimmering blue lake behind you, the iconic setting for this year's Christmas card family photo.

Don't forget nighttime views of the North Lake Tahoe area. Pick a moonless night and watch the stars that just seem so much brighter and closer than back home. During a full moon, the mountains look bright enough for skiing and the moon's reflection stretches across the lake. North Lake Tahoe views definitely are unreal.

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