Five ways to fly above Lake Tahoe
The only thing better than relaxing on one of Lake Tahoe's many sandy beaches is viewing the Jewel of the Sierra from high above its shores. Fortunately for those unafraid of heights, there's many ways to fly above the lake. From parasailing to helicopters, below are a few ways anyone can catch a glimpse of Lake Tahoe from above.
Definitely one of the most unique hot air balloon experiences in the world, Lake Tahoe Balloons launches from a custom 120-foot barge. One in the air, the barge, called the Tahoe Flyer, follows the balloon as it drifts and catches it when the pilot is prepared for landing. Though the basket is a tad tight, the views from a hot air balloon above Lake Tahoe are amazingly unfettered and seriously astounding. Per ballooning tradition, you'll also get a glass of champagne after the flight.
A helicopter tour of the Tahoe region offers a perspective that's completely unattainable otherwise. And Reno Tahoe Helicopters has designed tours of all sorts. Whether you want to see gushing waterfalls in the spring or cruise among the colors of the sunset, the experienced pilots can fly groups of up to nine passengers between their two helicopters. They also offer custom services like photography, filming and surveying.
One of the easiest and most affordable ways to cruise high above Lake Tahoe is parasailing. There are many operations in the area that offer flights on both the North Shore and South Shore. With their 400-foot or 800-foot flights, Parasail Tahoe specialized in dry flights, meaning you don't even have to get wet. Scared of heights? Parasail Tahoe has a three-person harness, so you don't have to scream alone.
For those that can't stand to leave the safety of the ground, Heavenly Mountain Resort's scenic gondola rides will take you to amazing heights without the takeoff and landing. The 2.4-mile ride offers glorious views of the South Shore and the Carson Valley. The Observation Deck is located at 9,123 feet, more than 2,500 feet above lake level. Not high enough? Check out Heavenly's new Blue Streak Zipline, a 3,300-foot adrenaline rush that reaches speeds of 50 miles-per-hour.
Gliders are the closest a human being can come to traversing the sky like an eagle. During their Tahoe Sky Ride, Soaring NV will tow you and a pilot well above Lake Tahoe before releasing the towline. Then, the real flight begins. Expect huge arched turns and a wonderful silence that's typically reserved for birds. Flights usually last around 45 minutes and occasionally the pilot will allow passengers to briefly take control of the glider.