The first time you see the lake, as you crest the mountain pass from Reno, is a sight you’ll never forget. Driving through the dense evergreen forest, the deep blue of the lake contrasts with the green surrounding the rim. And to add to its beauty, the white peaked mountains on the western edge of the lake climb high into the sky. And that’s only the beginning of the trip. A trip we just got back from this past weekend. We met up with some friends from back east who rented a house to ski for the week. Since it was basically in our backyard, Court and I thought it’d be a great idea to take a break from the condo renovations and moving to head west for a few days.
The tiny ski/vacation town of South Lake Tahoe, as its name alludes to, is at the south end of Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is the largest alpine lake in North America and is the 6th largest lake by volume. Needless to say, it’s big, and beyond beautiful. Coming up over the the mountain pass from Carson City, the lake almost shocks you at first sight. But we weren’t there just to gawk at the blue water, we were there to ski.
Since we had the Epic Ski Pass, it only made sense for us to ski the infamous Heavenly Ski Resort, right there in South Lake Tahoe on the boarder of California and Nevada. Though it doesn’t hold the same amount of “mystique” that Squaw holds, I’d only heard good things about Heavenly. And after skiing there a few times over the weekend, it blew expectations out of the water. Is it a challenging mountain, no, not in the slightest. The terrain is mostly mellow and low angle, except for one portion of the mountain, and the trees are spaced really far apart. At the same time, those two reasons made for epic spring skiing days. You could rip down the faces, effortlessly carving the spring snow and then jump into the trees for even more fun with little risk involved. Skiing between Nevada and California was pretty epic too! Not too many resorts in the world straddle two regions like this one does, and each side had its own feel to it, allowing us to find some kind-of run for everyone in our group. But just know, the place is massive! It takes 3 lifts just to get from the California lodge up to the summit, and can take equally as many lifts to get from one end to another.
My favorite part of the trip wasn’t watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones on Sunday, but it was the AirBnB that our friend Jake booked. Complete with a hot tub, game-room, and all the bear photos and decorations that one could desire. What I wasn’t stoked about, were all the rules South Lake Tahoe has for vacation rental properties. It’s actually ridiculous, and coming from a vacation/ski town having to deal with tourists and renters all the time, I still thought it was absurd.
For a full list of their rules on Vacation Home Rental (VHR), check it out here. I’ll only list a few that I thought sucked.
-No more than 2 cars parked at a VHR (even if you can fit more)
-No hot-tub use after 10pm
-No parking on the street
-If any rules are broken, it’s a $1,000 fine to the renters, and $1,000 fine to the owner.
A little aggressive to say the least. It’s a shocker that the residents of SLT don’t realize that their town only exists because of the tourism industry, and without that, it’d be just another small, poor town in the west.
Besides the negatives, Lake Tahoe was pretty sweet. After a day of skiing, Court and I headed up the eastern side of the lake to go checkout a Secret Cove in hopes of putting the SUP Board into the water. We hiked down through a forest of giant pines, over boulder fields, and eventually reached the cove. Turns out, the water was way too rough and cold to risk going in without a guaranteed possibility of getting wet. We decided to just hang out on the beach and shoot a ton of photos. It was wild to see that massive body of water, lined with forest, and framed by huge mountains in the background. All the while, knowing we were just skiing 30min before we arrived.
This place really seems to have it all. Epic and endless skiing, a massive body of water for some fun in the summer, tons of climbing areas, great mountain biking on the northern half of the lake, hiking of course, and all the overpriced breweries & restaurants one could dream of. It’s a shame that we could only spend a few days there in the spring. We’re already planning a trip back to wander the rim trail and actually go into the water for once. We plan to check out the northern portion of the lake and western side too. If Lake Tahoe wasn’t on your bucket list, I highly suggest making a trip out there as soon as possible. And the best part is, there doesn’t seem to be a bad time to visit. I mean, the ski resorts are staying open until July this year on the western side of the lake!
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.