South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is a city in the Lake Tahoe region of California in El Dorado County.


Sunning on the beach in South Lake Tahoe during the summer.

Located at the meeting point of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in the world. South Lake Tahoe, the largest town around the lake, is situated on the south shore and offers beautiful views of mountains covered with fir and pine trees, deep blue water year-round, and a wealth of outdoor activities. A popular location for skiers and snowboarders during the snowy winter season, Lake Tahoe is also home to miles of beaches for sun-tanning, boating, water skiing, and swimming in the summer. Both the north and south shores offer plenty of hiking and biking trails and retreats for campers. On the Nevada side of the town (Stateline, NV), is a long stretch of more than ten casinos--a haven for those looking for a world-class gambling experience.

Originally a town of several smaller communities, South Lake Tahoe has developed into one large area consisting of approximately 21,000 permanent residents. The population fluctuates massively in the winter, and triples around New Years, as there is a massive influx of tourists visiting for the holiday season. There are two main parts of South Lake Tahoe: the Western part of town, centered around "The Y" - the X-shaped intersection of US Highway 50 and California state highway 89, and the Eastern part, centered around the CA-NV state border. The former is distinctly residential, and the latter is distinctly commercial - it is the home of all the casinos and larger hotels, and Heavenly's Gondola starts in this area.

Traveling from "The Y" toward Stateline, motels, hotels, resorts, and small businesses line Highway 50, before arriving at 'Heavenly Village' a town center created at the foot of the Heavenly ski resort's Gondola. Heavenly Village is comprised of shops, restaurants and two Marriott resort hotels. There is also a multi-story parking garage at Heavenly Village. Heavenly Village is the center of activity for the majority of visitors to the South Lake Tahoe region, and is bustling with activity year-round.

One block northeast of Heavenly Village is the official California-Nevada state line, and the unincorporated settlement of Stateline, Nevada, which is home to four major resort casinos, and two smaller local casinos.


 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 43 44 49 54 64 72 81 80 74 63 51 43
Nightly lows (°F) 16 18 23 27 32 37 41 40 35 28 22 17
Precipitation (in) 2.7 2.6 2.9 1.0 1.1 0.6 0.4 0.5 0.7 1.8 3.2 2.9

   Data from NOAA (1981-2010)

Get in

The most common route into South Lake Tahoe is via the nearest major city, Reno, Nevada. Reno International Airport provides transit to and from the Tahoe basin for a minimal fee.

International and transcontinental travelers typically fly into San Francisco International Airport (IATA: SFO), and make the journey via Sacramento on I-80 and US-50, though Sacramento International Airport and Reno International airport are also viable hubs for shorter-distance travelers.

US Route 50 accesses Lake Tahoe via Echo Summit, a windy mountain grade that descends nearly 1,000 feet before entering the unincorporated community of Meyers, California. Alternately, Highway 89 enters the Lake Tahoe Basin via Nevada, winding over Luther Pass. SR-89 and US-50 intersect in Meyers. Highway 50 continues through Carson City, NV, ascending over Daggett Pass, before merging with Nevada Highway 395.

Entering from the Northern side of the Lake is Interstate-80, which provides access from both Sacramento and Reno.

During Tahoe's cold, snowy winters, road closures and traffic are not uncommon, as ice poses a hazard, as does the risk of avalanche, particularly on Highway 89, which wraps around the Western shore of the lake. Inexperienced winter drivers, coupled with mandatory chain-installation stops create highway backups during inclement weather. As snow has been reported 12 months a year, vehicles with four-wheel drive are a necessity for locals, and an important option for visitors to have on their vehicles.

Get around

Bus service around the South Lake Tahoe area is provided by BlueGo, which operates a fleet of environmentally-friendly buses, and in the winter, both the Heavenly and Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resorts have their own bus services, which are free and meant to shuttle skiers to and from their hotels and motels. There are also several taxi services, however these are in very high demand in the winter, and waits of 30-60 minutes are not uncommon in peak times.

During summer months, BlueGo offers transportation around the South Shore both by their bus service, but also by several streetcar-like trolleys under the name "Nifty Fifty Trolley", in reference to US Route 50, South Tahoe's main road, and the route upon which they travel.

All major locations around the Heavenly Village area such as the stateline casinos, are within walking distance (one quarter mile) of each other. There are underground walkways between the major casinos.



Skiing is a popular winter activity in South Lake Tahoe.





Go next

Routes through South Lake Tahoe

Sacramento Pollock Pines  W  E  Stateline Carson City
Truckee Homewood  N  S  Jct W Ends at N S

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, December 27, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.