Seeking some high-octane adventure? From north to south, the Lake Tahoe region offers epic mountain peaks, granite singletracks, breathtaking waterfalls, hidden coves and adventure outfitters ready to help you take your vacation to the max.
There are activities and excursions at Lake Tahoe for every taste and budget. So, ask yourself first: What type of adventurer are you? What makes your heart race and palms sweat?
Outdoor enthusiasts will be stoked by the sheer number of trails to hike, mountain bike and run. Adrenaline junkies can get their fix skydiving and parasailing. And all can agree on the merits of a really good meal after a day of #YOLO adventures.
Adventure in the great outdoors
If you prefer your adventure with a side of hard work, you’ve come to the right place. Look outside your hotel window or unzip your tent. See that peak? Go climb it. See that singletrack lined with sugar pine trees? Unpack your mountain bike and go shred it.
The 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail is an excellent place to start. The Tahoe Rim Trail Association website offers a planning tool for your rim trail excursion, providing options to hike, mountain bike, backpack and travel by horseback. The Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association keeps riders abreast of Tahoe trail conditions and offers intel on the most popular mountain bike trails on the South Shore.
You can also shred some pretty killer downhill on the Flume Creek Trail, accessible by Tunnel Creek Road in Incline Village. Flume Trail Bikes offers shuttle service to ride the Tahoe Rim Trail and the Flume Creek Trail, where you start and end your ride at their bike rental shop and cafe.
And if you’re the adventurous type, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be admiring Lake Tahoe’s azure waters from the beach.
If you like to paddle, there’s the 72-mile Lake Tahoe Water Trail, which offers 39 public launch sites, 17 day landing sites and is mapped into seven day trips, which can also be overnights. Want to paddle AND get your heart racing? Check out Tahoe Whitewater Tours, offering class I to IV rapids on the Truckee and American rivers in half-day, full-day and multi-day trips.
Or shimmy into a wet suit for high-altitude scuba diving at Tahoe. That water is cold year-round, but checking out Tahoe from below the surface is worth it. Check out Sierra Diving Center in Reno or Tahoe Dive Center in Carson City.
If you prefer a bit more adrenaline with your lake view, how about soaring above Lake Tahoe in a parachute towed by a motorized boat? There are many parasailing outfitters, including Tahoe Sports, Action Watersports, Parasail Tahoe, as well as the Zephyr Cove Marina, that offer single, double and even triple riders the chance to soar.
Need to get even higher? Hot air balloon outfitters like Balloon Nevada (floating over the nearby Carson Valley), Balloons Over Lake Tahoe (in South Lake Tahoe) and Lake Tahoe Balloons (departing from the Tahoe Keys Marina) offer a breathtaking bird’s-eye view of the lake just as the sun is rising above the lake.
And for the die-hard thrill seekers? A jump from a plane at 12,000 feet should do the trick. Minden-based Skydive Lake Tahoe and Truckee-based Skydive Truckee Tahoe give adventurers unparalleled views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada as they zip toward the ground at more than 120 miles per hour.
Fuel for the journey
Only amateurs adventure on an empty stomach. If you’re fueling up for the day, Sprouts Cafe in South Lake Tahoe, the Fire Sign Cafe in Tahoe City and Rosie’s Cafe are all solid places to start your day with a meal that’s light or heavy, but generally pretty healthy.
Lunch can be grab-and-go from chain grocery stores in every city around the lake. If you do get the chance to stop and refuel, try the Dam Cafe at the Tahoe City Y, Burger Me in Truckee, or Izzy’s Burger Spa in South Lake Tahoe.
And at night, once the hiking boots and poles have been hung for the day, linger over a longer dining experience at the Riva Grill in South Lake Tahoe, Lone Eagle Grill at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe in Incline Village (and very close to the Flume Trail) or The Soule Domaine in Brockway (you are on vacation, after all).