South Lake Tahoe
At an elevation of over 6,000 feet, South Lake Tahoe is an alpine center built around enjoying the Sierra’s sapphire lake. Mark Twain described Lake Tahoe as “a noble sheet of blue water … walled in by a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks … it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.” Undoubtedly, countless others have reiterated similar expressions, but Twain touched on the two reasons for Tahoe’s eternal appeal: mountains and water.
Tahoe is known for its distinctive deep blue hue that scientists attribute to a lack of algae. The rallying cry, “Keep Tahoe Blue,” has been uttered by Californians and conservationists alike since 1957. Recently, Tahoe has been getting more blue. In South Lake Tahoe, water skiing, kayaking, boating, and of course fishing are perfect ways to experience the water. With a summer water temperature of 65.7 degrees , South Lake Tahoe is especially known for its refreshing and sun drenched bathing sands of Pope and El Dorado beaches.
From Tahoe’s shores, mountains occupy a panoramic view. Whether in summer or winter, South Lake Tahoe and its slopes are a paradise purposely built for basking in the Lake views. South Lake Tahoe originally formed around the gaming industry on the Nevada side. Only a decade after the first casino opened in 1944, the Heavenly Valley Resort opened. Receiving an average of 360 inches of powder each year, the Tahoe region became the capital of high-mountain skiing in the U.S. after hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics. Skiers at Heavenly enjoy the best of two worlds as they zigzag between two states. In summer, South Lake is alive on equally scenic hiking trails. From town, moderate hikes to Angora Lakes, Cold Creek, and Fallen Leaf Lake offer a backcountry beauty. For a more challenging climb, tackle Mount Tallac, which is just under 10,000 feet. This 10.2 mile (one way) hike rises nearly 3,500 feet. Once at the top, hikers are rewarded with an immaculate and incomparable view of the surrounding Lake and community.
Due to its high altitude and heavy snow, the inaugural years of the Amgen Tour of California were held in February and necessarily avoided Lake Tahoe. Even when the Tour moved to May, Stage 1 of the 2011 edition was cancelled because of lingering snowfall. Since then, rare visits have made this a highly anticipated portion of any Tour and Heavenly Mountain Resort has been the headquarters for starts and finishes. The women were the first to complete a Tahoe leg both Stage 1 and 2 in 2015 with Katie Hall and Leah Kirchmann respectively earning the coveted titles. The 2016 Tour finished Stage 5 in South Lake Tahoe with Toms Skujins leading an impressive field while the female athletes circumnavigated the lake with Megan Guarnier securing a Stage 1 win. The Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM returned for 2 stages including a new grueling course in 2017, which were won by Megan Guarnier and Katie Hall. Try your own hand on South Lake Tahoe’s roads and venture out in the saddle to discover why USA Today name Tahoe “America’s Best Lake” in 2012. After all, there is a reason this place is called Heavenly.