Tahoe is essentially a winter holiday destination for the city dwellers of California looking for an escape – and what an escape it is.
The craziest thing Far Out has discovered about California so far on our road trip is the differing environment and the weather that goes with it. Only a matter of days ago, in Palm Springs, our foreheads were being burnt in the obscenely hot desert temperatures and now this, snow. Actual snow.
At the time of our arrival it was the beginning of May and Tahoe had enjoyed a long winter, so long in fact that the ski lifts of all the major resorts remained open.
The lake itself joins California with the state of Nevada and, as mentioned in the featured road trip article, the pair have managed to strike a stringent and tight deal that enforces the exceptional management of the water quality and the cleanliness of the surrounding area – it feels like walking through a postcard, the water is bizarrely clear, it’s glass-like.Upon arrival, after being on the road for three-and-a-half hours, we checked in at the Cedar Glen Lodge in North Lake Tahoe. It felt a bit like I’d stumbled into the most idyllic, rural American scene possible. How many times have you heard the phrase ‘rent a lodge by the lake’ in all those movies? Well it happened.
Cedar Glen Lodge was right on budget and set about our relaxation time after a hectic few days in San Francisco. Following arrival, we headed down the road to Sunnyside Tahoe, a place we were told served the best food, wine and view of the lake from the north side… they weren’t wrong.
Tahoe is a big place and it’d be easy to get lost in the area. Given the fact that we’d planned two nights, we wanted to ensure we could see the most we could. To put it out there, we’re not massive hikers or mountain bikers but we did arrange a meeting with a man called Bart Peterson from the Incline Village Visitors Bureau. Bart took us out on a short hike across a path called the ‘Ale Trail’ which took us over a portion of the Flume Trail, which sits over Lake Tahoe and it was incredible.
Later that evening we ventured out to a neighbouring town called ‘Truckee’ for some beers and food. As picturesque as Tahoe is, we didn’t really get the nightlife vibe and we were in the mood to play some pool and drink some beer and Truckee suited us nicely.
To be honest though, the main tourist draw to Tahoe seems to be the winter sports. The area somehow, against all the odds, managed to land the 1960 Olympic games. It would become a building block for the next 50 years of income for the area.
It has to be said, Tahoe is beautiful. Speaking to the local residents and the people who regularly frequent there, it does seem to be more of a place to get involved with outdoor activities, a place to bring the family for outside time – something that feels strangely endearing in this day and age.
There’s more than a few incredible views to check out, our favourite happened to be Emerald Bay so make sure you stop off and enjoy the view. Local photographer Keoki, who has a gallery in the area, has shot tons of amazing pictures there and told us that the best time to visit Emerald Bay is sunrise – it didn’t get that name for no reason!
Travertine Hot Springs
So, as we’re on the first edition of Far Out’s road trip series, it feels like now is a great time to discuss the wonder of hot springs. Naively, hot springs weren’t high on our agenda as we mapped out our route around California, that is until a Tahoe local insisted we shoehorn a stop off at Travertine while out on the road – and that we did.
Heading down from Tahoe in the direction of Death Valley we checked ourselves into a cheap motel in Lee Vining and dug out our swimming gear and headed down the dirt road to the hot springs. For those unaware, it should be noted that many visitors enjoy Travertine in the nude but don’t let you put that off.
With stunning Sierra views, you’ll be able to relax in incredibly warm and tranquil pools like these…
Directions – Take Route 395 south of Bridgeport half a mile. Turn left at Jack Sawyer Road, just before the Ranger Station. Follow Jack Sawyer Road approximately one mile.