At 35km long and 19km wide, Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in the United States. It is also our second deepest lake at right around 500 meters deep. It contains enough water to provide every man, woman and child in the country with 200 liters of water a day, every day, for 5 years! That’s a lot of water.
Originally inhabited by the Washoe people, it was rediscovered by legendary western scout and mountain man Kit Carson in 1844. When the Comstock Lode of silver was discovered in nearby Virginia City, people came in droves to the area. Thankfully some of these early settlers saw the beauty of the lake and its tourism potential and set out to preserve it. Today, the environmental group Keep Tahoe Blue keeps up this vigilant watch.
We were all thrilled to have a full day to explore this jewel of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and got up early to do some hiking and beat the heat of the day. Half of the group wanted to climb a mountain for a higher perspective while others wanted to hike along the lake. In order to accomplish both, we set out towards Emerald Bay State Park on the south end of the lake.
The first half set off to tackle Maggies Peak while the rest of us headed down to Emerald Bay to walk along the shore. When we compared photos later on, we were all convinced that we had made the better choice, but in reality both are amazing hikes. Walking along the bay provided amazing views out to Fannette Island, the only island on Lake Tahoe. We hiked among giant boulders and saw lots of birds in the area and even a lovely waterfall.
Our hikes finished, we met back up and headed back to camp for a hearty meal before walking down to the dock to enjoy our next adventure: a sunset sail on the lake. When we set out, the clouds were thick and the wind was up, but as we made our way out onto the lake the sky cleared making for a lovely evening. It is hard to judge how big Lake Tahoe really is until you are out in the middle of it. We all really enjoyed taking photographs and having a few drinks while the boat sailed westward towards the setting sun. The beautiful clouds lit up the sky like it was on fire as the sun dipped below the horizon.
As dusk set in and we headed back to shore, Wayne came out with the quote of the day:
“I know I say this every day about this time, but this was really and truly my favorite day so far. Honestly”.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Mark Twain said Lake Tahoe's air was "pure enough for angels", so you'd be crazy not to add this beautiful place to your bucket list. Our Yosemite, Tahoe & Monterey tour spends a couple of days here as well visiting some other gems of Western USA.