Straddling the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is a freshwater highland lake surrounded by mountains about three to four hours driving time from San Francisco. This wonderful place where Californians can enjoy striking and unique geography is a gift from God.
Taking a road trip to Lake Tahoe is the best way to get there as the scenic drive never fails to amaze passengers. On the way to Lake Tahoe is a small town called Columbia, which was once a hotbed for gold prospectors. The town maintains its Gold Rush architecture, with low buildings packed onto the sides of narrow streets, creating a warm and old-time atmosphere. You will find no fancy advertisements as you stroll through the streets, only simple wooden signboards hanging from storefronts. Seemingly cut off from modern society, the calm and slow tempo of Columbia makes you feel as if you’ve been transported back in time to a place void of the hustle and bustle of today. Spending an afternoon in Columbia enjoying all the lovely town has to offer is definitely worth your time.
Continuing from Columbia, the remaining leg of the drive to Lake Tahoe only takes a couple hours. If your arrival comes in the evening, you will notice a brilliant pink skyline as the sun sinks behind the mountains, giving way to a night filled with stars and moonlight above shimmering Lake Tahoe. The peace and calm you’ll appreciate here are thanks to the magnificent lake rendering most visitors speechless.
Lake Tahoe’s name originates from the local Native American language Washo, meaning big lake. Appropriately, Lake Tahoe is the sixth largest lake in the United States and is located in the mountains at an elevation of 1,900 meters. It is 500 meters deep and can hold 150 cubic kilometers of water. The average temperature at Lake Tahoe in the winter is only around −6℃ to −4℃, but the temperature in the summer can range from 4℃ to 26℃. The pleasant weather here has made Lake Tahoe a haven for outdoor enthusiasts year-round. Normally, the ski season runs from November to April, and eager skiers and boarders can ride at one of the area’s many resorts, such as Sugar Bowl, Alpine Meadows, and Heavenly. Another local resort, Squaw Valley, was even a venue for the 1960 Winter Olympics. Each ski area offers different challenges and levels that tourists of all abilities can enjoy. Once ski season is over, the summer months from June to August give rise to another time of peak travel thanks to the delightfully cool weather which provides an escape from the summer’s heat.
Like me, many people were left with a strong impression from the ending of the movie City of Angels. After Seth (Nicolas Cage) decides to give up his privilege of being an angel in order to become a mortal human who can feel emotions, he sets out to find his love interest Maggie (Meg Ryan) at Lake Tahoe. Once they meet and she realizes the enormous sacrifice he made to be with her, they share a moment of warm impassioned love in her Lake Tahoe cabin. Couples looking for a romantic getaway like theirs can count on Lake Tahoe and its pleasant solitude.
Lake Tahoe is a subsidence, or sinking of land, formed by a local fault moving between two mountain ranges, and its water comes from these ranges’ snowmelt. If you look out from the hillside of Emerald Bay, the water is so clear that it reflects the green of the trees and the blue of the sky, giving the look of a flawless jade. In the distance, the snow-capped mountains surrounding the lake look like they are straight out of a magnificent oil painting. Walking down the trails to the lakeside, you’ll follow crystal clear creeks of runoff as they wind their way down to feed Lake Tahoe. The wooden bridges that traverse the mountain streams provide great places to rest and take in all of the beauty.
For people who plan to stay overnight, there are all kinds of cabin rentals around Lake Tahoe. Airbnb also provides a convenient way to find your ideal place to stay. You can enjoy hiking through nature in the pleasant summertime weather, you can go camping and photograph the colorful landscape in the fall, or come in the winter to ski or ride Lake Tahoe’s snowy wonderland. If you can’t stay overnight, take a cruise around the 120-kilometer road circling Lake Tahoe, regarded as one of the most beautiful roads in the United States, part of which has even been designated a National Scenic Byway.
Mark Twain once said, “To obtain the air the angels breathe, you must go to Tahoe.” Lake Tahoe can wash away your worries in life and soothe your soul. If there really is a heaven, it’d be the color of Lake Tahoe, the bluest blue on Earth.