What Is the Best Time to Visit Lake Tahoe?

We all enjoy strolling along the beach, swimming, working on our tans, and, of course, people-watching when summer comes around.

What better place to do it than at Lake Tahoe, a gorgeous body of water bordering Nevada and California?

Lake Tahoe has amazing beaches, and the ski resorts are clean, picturesque, and have a whole lot of natural areas to explore.

It can get crowded though, so what’s the best time to visit?

Visitors to Lake Tahoe can enjoy the greatest weather between March and May, then late summer through mid-autumn.

However, the region stays open to visitors all year round. That’s due to the large range of attractions and recreations available.

Beachgoers flock to the sand as the weather warms up.

Table of Contents

What Is the Best Time to Visit Lake Tahoe?

Time to Visit

Early spring and late summer to fall are the ideal times to visit Lake Tahoe. It is possible to visit the area at a much lower cost if you go in March or November.

From July to August, Tahoe’s beaches are crowded with families. During the fall, the number of tourists drops, but as soon as winter arrives, skiers and snowboarders are back on the slopes, eager to tackle the new snowfall.

What is Lake Tahoe?

For those who have never heard of Lake Tahoe before, here is a brief explanation. Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe is a vast freshwater lake that straddles the state lines of California and Nevada. Its beachfront and ski resorts are well-known.

The Nordic-style mansion Vikingsholm, built in the early 1900s and located in Emerald Bay State Park on the southwest shore, can be found there.

Among the park’s most popular attractions is Sand Harbor Beach as well as Spooner Lake—the latter of which serves as a trailhead for the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Sand Harbor Beach

In both California and Nevada, visitors flock to Lake Tahoe for a variety of reasons. Winter sports, outdoor activities in the summer, and stunning landscapes are all found here.

There is a strong connection between the region’s economy and its status as a destination for skiing and snowboarding.

Several lakefront casino resorts can be found on the Nevada side, with highways giving year-round access.

Best Time and Routes to Access Lake Tahoe

Tourists looking to visit Lake Tahoe will be happy to hear that the lake is two hours from Sacramento, one hour from Reno, and a half-hour from Carson City.

The best times to visit are in the spring and summer when the roads are in their best condition.

Snow tires or chains are mostly required to reach Tahoe in the winter months from any direction.

Weekend traffic can be congested owing to both tourists and the weather.

Winter Road Conditions in Lake Tahoe


Keep an eye on traffic and road restrictions. Because of the rapid ascent of the Sierra mountains, visitors are often surprised to find that roads that are dry at lower elevations can be wet and slick once in the mountains.

Highway 50’s Echo Summit and I-80’s Donner Pass often become chain-controlled locations due to heavy traffic and poor roads.

This obliges drivers to get out of their vehicles and put metal chains on two tires, typically in freezing weather.

Drivers must obey the 25 to 30 miles an hour rule after putting on chains. Nonetheless, the circumstances are so grueling that you won’t be able to travel much faster than that.

People who are unfamiliar with the area or who ignore the warning signs may cause major harm if they drive carelessly.

After disregarding warnings, even skilled drivers who think they know the area well may find themselves veering off course.

What are the Major Routes to Lake Tahoe?

Nevada State Route 431 via Reno, U.S. Route 50, and Interstate 80 via Truckee are the principal routes to Lake Tahoe.


Lake Tahoe is surrounded by a network of maintained two-lane roadways.

US 50 is a four-lane highway that runs along the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe and passes south of the lake.

It crosses the Sierra Nevada at Echo Summit before entering the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Lake Tahoe’s gorgeous wilderness may be seen along California’s State Route 89 as it winds its way through Emerald Bay,

DL Bliss State Park, and Camp Richardson State Park. Communities like Meeks Bay and Tahoe City are located a bit further down the road.

At the end, the route turns away from the lake and proceeds northwest toward Truckee.

From Tahoe City to Incline Village, Nevada, where the route changes names to Nevada, State Route 28 completes the northern coast circuit.

In Spooner Lake, the eastern bank of Route 28 meets up with US 50.

Springtime in Lake Tahoe

March to May

Lake Tahoe spring

As the days grow longer and the temperatures increase (Between 40 and 60°+), Lake Tahoe begins to transform from a winter sports mecca to a summer vacation hotspot.

There are fewer people around and the prices are reduced during this interim period. There’s also a chance that the last few snowflakes will fall on the slopes.

Main Events:

  • Crushing Crossing in April
  • Snow Golf Tournament in April
  • WinterWonderGrass Tahoe in April
  • Earth Day in April

Summertime in Lake Tahoe

June to August

Visits to Lake Tahoe are at their busiest during the summer months. Temperatures closer to 80° make the trails, beaches, and the lake all ready for exploring and enjoyment.

Lake Tahoe summer

Weekends are notoriously busy and expensive, so be prepared (traveling during the week could save you some extra spending money).

Be certain to make reservations of no less than three months to guarantee your spot.

Main Events:

  • Brews, Jazz & Funk Fest in August
  • Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival in July and August
  • America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride in June
  • Tahoe Brewfest in June

Autumn in Lake Tahoe

September to November

There is a direct correlation between temperature change and price change (between the 70s and high 40s).

As the kids return to school as the breeze picks up, the area experiences a dramatic drop in tourists.


Visit in the final days of pioneering in late September or the first weeks of the ski season in late November.

Main Events:

  • Camp Richardson’s Annual Oktoberfest in October
  • Lake Tahoe Fall Fish Festival in October
  • Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival in September
  • Genoa Candy Dance in September
  • Sample the Sierra in September

Winter in Lake Tahoe

December to February

Lake Tahoe’s snowy winters aren’t as severe as you might think, given typical temperatures in the 40s.

As a result, whether you’re here for some serious skiing or just to take in the scenery, winter is an excellent time to visit.


However, it’s important to know that you will not be the only person cashing in on the good weather. Crowds will grow, and prices will rise as a result (keep in mind that you could avoid these by going on a weekday).

Making your reservations up to three months ahead also helps you avoid disappointment during this busy time of year.

Main Events:

  • SnowGlobe Music Festival in December

What Types of Winter Sports are Available in Lake Tahoe?

During the ski season, thousands of people from all over Nevada and California, including San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Reno, flock to the slopes for downhill skiing.

Lake Tahoe, in addition to its panoramic beauty, is well known for its blizzards, which leave behind prime snow for winter sports.

Ski resorts and areas range from small to large, with Heavenly Mountain Resort being the largest ski area in both Nevada and California.

This resort is located near the Stateline on the South Shore. Palisades Tahoe is the next biggest ski region, renowned for its accommodation of the Winter Olympics in 1960, situated close to Tahoe City.

Palisades Tahoe

Northern Lake Tahoe Activities

On the northern end of Lake Tahoe, in Reno, Nevada, and Truckee, California, most of the region’s ski resorts may be found.

Between 55 and 75 miles from Reno, Heavenly, Sierra-at-Tahoe, and Kirkwood are located on the southern shore of Lake Tahoe.

A number of both public and private sledding areas can be found all across the Lake Tahoe area.

In Granlibakken, sledders can use ropes to help them up the hill. Squaw Valley is one of the many ski resorts in the Tahoe area that offers snow tubing.

Skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing are also popular activities in Tahoe.

What Types of Water Sports Activities are at Lake Tahoe?

Lake Tahoe is prominent for water sports and beachfront activities between late spring and early fall.

Southern California’s South Lake Tahoe and Stateline are among the most well-known tourist destinations along the lake’s northerly shoreline.

jet ski

King’s beach and Tahoe City are minor towns along the same shoreline.

Fishing, sustainable rowing sport rentals, jet ski rentals, and parasailing are among popular activities. Lake Tahoe has several rental options.

Many people enjoy paddling around on stand-up paddleboards and kayaks.

Lake Tahoe Summer Activities

During the summer, boaters are an endangered species in Tahoe. Concours d’Elegance in Lake Tahoe, among the country’s most prominent wooden boat exhibits, occurs each August on the lake.

Lakefront eateries you’ll find all across the lake, many of which have docks and buoys for diners to use.

Sailboat races, fireworks displays across the lake, supervised tours, and more can all be found here.

Lake Tahoe is governed by the Coast Guard because its waterway straddles two states. The Coast Guard Station Lake Tahoe is situated in Lake Tahoe.

How Safe is Scuba Diving at Lake Tahoe?

Dive locations in Lake Tahoe, such as those with steep drops or cliff jumps, are famous among scuba divers.

Decompression sickness (DCS) is more likely to occur while diving at a high elevation, like Lake Tahoe.

Scuba Diving

In 1955, Fred Rogers was the first individual to swim the whole distance of Lake Tahoe, and then in 1962, Erline Christopherson was also the first female to accomplish the feat.

Why Motorcyclists Like to Stop at Lake Tahoe

Motorcyclists can travel both on and off-road around the lake, which is surrounded by beautiful scenery.

The most well-known route circles the lake counter-clockwise, beginning in South Lake Tahoe, California, and ending in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

It is possible to stop your vehicle to the right of the road and observe the scenery without having to cross the street.

The full tour can be completed by following highway 28 East to US-50 West. Seeing things from a different angle can be gained by doing it in reverse.

On Highway 207, local motorcyclists frequently take Kingsbury Grade (also known as Kingsbury Road).

The distance between South Lake Tahoe and Pottsville is about 11 miles, and the trail can be taken either way.

Emerald Lake, Cave Rock, and Zephyr Cove are some of the most beautiful spots for a motorcycle ride around the lake.

Zephyr Cove

Does Lake Tahoe Have an Outlet?

Flowing northeast through the city of Reno into Pyramid Lake, the Truckee River serves as the lake’s only outflow.

The wide surface of the lake evaporates the remaining two-thirds of the lake’s water.

The Lake Tahoe Dam at the outflow of the Truckee River controls the flow of the river and the height of the lake.

Above sea level, the natural rim rises 6,223 feet. Legally, the lake cannot rise more than 6,229.1 feet to store water.

The dam’s overflow is controlled by a spillway. Snowmelt from the Pineapple Express atmospheric river flooded Reno and the surrounding area around New Year 1996/1997.