Found nestled between the states of Nevada and California is the freshwater lake called Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is located in the mountains called the Sierra Nevada which is a mountain range that borders Nevada and California, although these mountains are found more in California than in Nevada. Called the second deepest lake in America, with a depth of 501 meters or 1,645 feet, Lake Tahoe is one of the major tourist attractions in the country. Both Nevada and California benefit from this natural wonder which was said to have been formed approximately 2 million years in the past. Also considered the biggest alpine lake to be found in the North American continent, Lake Tahoe, or simply Tahoe to some, is a prime destination not only for water bound vacations but for skiing and other mountain resort activities.
Lake Tahoe is considered 16th in rank when it comes to comparing the depths of the many lakes of the world and is second to Crater Lake which is found in Oregon when talking about the deepest lakes found in the United States. The lake measures about 35 kilometers in length, is 19 kilometers wide and has around 116 kilometers of shoreline as well as 490 square kilometers of surface area. The lake mostly runs along California, with two thirds of its shoreline touching the state. The largest city to be found near the lake is South Lake Tahoe which is found on the California side of this body of water. This city is found alongside Stateline, Nevada, a town found on the Nevada side of the lake. While the lake is easily accessible with the numerous highways that lead to it, the shoreline of the lake is protected by the Forest Service of the US and has kept these highways near the lake but not touching the protected forest and shoreline areas.
History and Development
The Lake Tahoe area was first inhabited by Native Americans, more specifically by the Indian tribe called the Washoe tribe. It was these Indians who first gave the lake its name, with the name taken from the Washoe word for “lake”. While the lake is now officially called Lake Tahoe, it did not get this name until the government decreed it so. The lake was first called Lake Bigler by John Calhoun Johnson who carried mail for the government to Nevada from Placerville. He named the lake as a tribute to the governor of California of that time, John Bigler. While both names were in use for some time, it was not until 1945 that the lake officially became Lake Tahoe.
The lake area saw many settlers come and go in the form of people who were going to the American River for their chance at the gold deposits found there. Silver miners also found themselves near the vicinity of the lake in the same era of the 1800s when silver deposits were found in nearby Virginia City in Nevada. The mining of silver within the lake’s area saw logging come close to the lake’s basin, with an almost denuded forest happening due to such an occurrence. The first signs of the Tahoe area being a possible resort destination came about when Virginia City was developed to become a resort community. By the 1900s, the potential for the lake’s basin as a prime resort destination started to kick in. Repeated tries by certain legislators to get the country to declare the surrounding forests of the lake as a national park were unsuccessful. Houses and buildings started to pop up around the lake, more so on the Nevada side where casinos were being built. There are a number of vacation areas and resorts around Lake Tahoe due to this early development, although construction around the lake has slowed to a trickle these days due to government efforts to protect the wildlife and trees of the lake.
Tourism and Lake Tahoe Activities
These days, people can indulge in a lot of activities around Lake Tahoe. The number of resorts, casinos, restaurant and recreational facilities that visitors and locals alike can enjoy bring in droves of people every year. There are a number of major ski spots to be enjoyed here and these include the following:
- Heavenly Mountain Resort – a resort that is found near Stateline Nevada and features the biggest skiing area in both states.
- Alpine Meadows – located on the north shore of the lake, this place boasts of a medium sized skiing area.
- Squaw Valley – Famous for having hosted the Winter Olympics in 1960, this skiing area is the second largest around the lake and is found near Tahoe City.
- Diamond Peak – this skiing area is found on the Nevada side of the lake, in Incline Village and offers skiers a small skiing area.
- Kirkwood Mountain Resort – Found on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, this area holds the distinction of being the ski area that gets the most snow cover in the whole lake region.
There are a whole lot more skiing spots and resorts to be found around the Lake Tahoe areas aside from the above-mentioned skiing resorts and destinations. Most of these resorts can be found on the northern part of the lake, near Reno on the Nevada side and Truckee on the California side. Aside from the usual skiing, visitors can also enjoy other snowbound sports here like snow tubing, snowshoeing, snowmobile riding and sledding. These activities can be found in a few select resorts but not all of them offer all of these snow activities.
Aside from winter sports and winter resorts, the lake also offers tourists beach and water sports during the hot summer months. Some of the more popular areas that offer these activities include Stateline, Nevada, South Lake Tahoe, Kings Beach and Tahoe City. You can find visitors enjoying such summer recreational activities like leisurely boating, sailboat racing, cruising and even scuba diving. Also part of the summer adventures you can find here are trekking and bicycling. There a number of trails that can be found all around the lake and you can choose one according to its popularity, difficulty or length.