Your Guide to Visiting Lake Tahoe in the Fall
Tourists and locals alike flock to the shores of Lake Tahoe in the summer and winter for snow and water sports aplenty. However, perhaps one of the most dreamy seasons to visit Lake Tahoe is the season sandwiched right between these two high-traffic times. Consider it the calm between the storms, if you will.
Autumn at Lake Tahoe holds endless activities, from cozy spas to outdoor recreation, but without the crowds and chaos. In fact, the weather remains mild through September and even into October, with temperatures dropping steadily as winter nears. You can even enjoy some summertime activities in the fall — with just a few more layers on!
Take a look at the many adventures awaiting during your trip to Lake Tahoe this fall. With an abundance of fall foliage, a unique salmon migration, stunning hikes, and more, you really can’t go wrong.
Book Your Stay
Photo Courtesy of Cedar Crest Cottages
While there are hundreds of amazing places to stay around the lake, whether you’re headed to North Lake Tahoe or South Lake Tahoe, we selected some of the coziest accommodations in the area. Some of our favorite fall retreats include:
Black Bear Lodge | Unique comfortable lodging experience in the heart of South Lake Tahoe with five guest rooms in a main lodge and four spacious cabins.
Cedar Crest Cottages | Modern family-owned luxurious cottages nestled along the western edge of the lake in Homewood.
Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa & Casino | Modern lakeside destination located in Incline Village with a relaxing spa, a casino, and cozy cottages available for rental.
The Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe | Stunning brand new industrial-modern lodge in South Lake Tahoe with unparalleled accommodations and an ideal location.
Cedar Glen Lodge | Award-winning lodge in North Lake Tahoe with a wine bar, seasonal heated pool, hot tub, sauna, fire pit, and cozy cottages with fireplaces, kitchens, massage tubs and more.
See Fall Colors
Most of the lake is surrounded by evergreens but there are plenty of places around Lake Tahoe dotted with breathtaking fall colors — from glistening gold to moody burgundy. Admire overwhelming golden aspen groves contrasted by surrounding greens, blues, and a little bit of red. Some of the best places to see fall foliage in the Lake Tahoe area include:
- Hope Valley
- Page Meadows Loop Trail
- Spooner Lake
- Fallen Leaf Lake Trail
- Emerald Bay State Park
- Marlette Lake Trail
- Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway
- Zephyr Cove
Watch the Salmon Migration
Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service
If you time your visit to Lake Tahoe just right, you might catch the renowned kokanee salmon migration in Taylor Creek near South Lake Tahoe. From late September through mid-October, kokanee change from a silver-blue to a fiery vermilion, and run up the creek, creating a beautiful spectacle for visitors.
In the first few days of October (this year, on October 7 and 8), the annual fall migration is celebrated at the Fall Fish Fest at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center. This free family-friendly event offers children’s activities, educational programs and booths, stream-side programs, plus a children’s run, a 5K, a 10K, and half-marathon trail runs.
Take a Hike
Photo Courtesy of Jake Young via the Outbound Collective
There are plenty of amazing hikes surrounding Lake Tahoe, including the infamous Maggie’s Peaks. This moderate-level, 3-mile roundtrip hike is not strenuous, and the views and overall setting are off the charts. With an elevation gain of 2,000 feet, take in remarkable views of Granite Lake below, in addition to 360-degree views of the surrounding valley, including Eagle Lake and Eagle Falls.
Go Mountain Biking
Avid mountain bikers will be pleased to experience this high-traffic area with a bit less traffic. Hit the trail before winter weather rolls in! Some of the best mountain biking trails include Kingsbury Stinger, Tahoe Rim Trail, Corral Trail, Flume Trail, Van Sickle Trail, and the Downieville Downhill.
Unwind at a Spa
Photo Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton
After all this adventure, it’s time to retreat to a rejuvenating spa in the area. While we don’t need an excuse for a day of pampering at the spa, the coziness of fall makes a spa visit 10 times more valid. No matter where you’re staying, there are plenty of relaxing spas surrounding Lake Tahoe. Plus, your hotel may have a spa of its own so you can spend more time meditating and less time driving.
Ritz-Carlton Spa | Truckee, CA
The Spa at the Landing Resort | South Lake Tahoe, CA
Stillwater Spa & Salon at Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino | Incline Village, NV
Resort at Squaw Creek | Olympic Valley, CA
Before the weather gets too cold, one of the best ways to experience Lake Tahoe to the fullest is of course being in the water! Kayaking and paddleboarding are wonderful fall activities that allow you to witness the sheer beauty of this renowned lake up-close and personally. Plus, the motorboats that typically swarm the lake each summer will be long gone, providing a serene and relaxing experience.
On the western shore of the lake, head to Hurricane Bay or William Kent Shoreline. If you’re staying on the northern shore, Waterman’s Landing in Carnelian Bay has easy water access plus rental paddleboards. Cave Rock along the southeastern shore and El Dorado Beach in South Lake Tahoe are other pristine places to paddleboard and kayak.
Take a Cruise
Photo Courtesy of Aramark
If you’d rather someone else do the paddling, you might instead take a relaxing cruise on an infamous, award-winning boat. Head to Zephyr Cove Resort & Marina and hop on board a historic yacht for a daytime scenic cruise, sunset dinner cruise, or a private charter cruise. Each tour has a unique set of features and amenities designed to create a memorable and pleasant experience for guests. While on board, keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles and other majestic wildlife!
Play a Round of Golf
The Lake Tahoe region is truly a paradise for golfers and is considered one of the most legendary golf areas in the country. In North Lake Tahoe, golf courses include the Incline Village Championship, Incline Village Mountain, Old Brockway, the Links at Squaw Creek, and Tahoe City Golf Course. South Lake Tahoe courses include the Bijou Municipal Golf Course, Edgewood Tahoe, Lake Tahoe Golf Course, and Tahoe Paradise Golf Course.
The golfing community in Truckee is booming in particular, as new courses are added continually. Some of the most renowned courses in Truckee include Coyote Moon, Gray’s Crossing, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Old Greenwood, Schaffer’s Mill Club, and Tahoe Donner.
…or Disc Golf
Exchange your bag of clubs for a bag of discs and embark on a disc golf at adventure at any of the amazing course surrounding Lake Tahoe. If you’re stationed in the northern part of the lake, consider visiting North Tahoe Lions Club Disc Golf Course, Tahoe Vista Regional Disc Golf Course, or Squaw Valley Disc Golf Course. Zephyr Cove Park and Bijou Community Park are great options on the south and southeast region of the lake.
Bring Fido to the Beach!
We’ve got the human activities covered, but we can’t leave our fur babies out of the fun! There are a handful of dog-friendly beaches along Lake Tahoe, perfect for letting your dog splash in the refreshing water, run across the soft sand, and mingle with other dogs. Take your dog off their leash at Kiva Beach or the north end of Zephyr Cove Beach, each on the southern shore, or Coon Street Dog Beach in King’s Beach on the northern shore of Lake Tahoe. NOTE: Keep in mind that many accommodations in the area don’t allow pets, so these dog beaches may only be doable on a day trip to Lake Tahoe!