Sunday, August 16, 2015

Lake Tahoe Drive

Looking at the blue waters of Lake Tahoe near Lake Tahoe State Park


One of the highlights of our trip to Reno was getting the opportunity to drive around Lake Tahoe.  This lake is one of the deepest and coldest lakes in North America  -- and I might add one of the prettiest.

As soon as we descended from Highway 50 and saw the crisp blue waters, we knew we were in for a treat.

The Drive

There are a series of highways that circle the lake.  Our goal was to drive them and see the lake from all the various angles.  It would also give us the opportunity to cross the border (so to speak) into California.

Since I was driving with an octogenarian and Shari, there wasn't going to be any time for hiking.  Also, despite it being a Thursday, Lake Tahoe was busy with tourists.  So I was lucky if I got the opportunity to find a spot to pull over to the side of the road and snap a picture or two.

There was plenty of hiking to be done and I was itching to rent a bike and ride on the ample bike trail.  The bike trail sometimes clings to the main road and at other times meanders into the pine forest.  Also, the scent of pines was often times over powering.  I would love to rent a cabin there and spend a long week just hiking and resting.

Some of the initial views from the Nevada Side

Some of the initial views from the Nevada Side

Some of the initial views from the Nevada Side

After taking in the initial views of Lake Tahoe we made our way to the border.  Sure enough, like every other major gateway into Nevada there was a series of large casinos.  Needing to use the restrooms as well as take a break from the initial drive, we decided to spend an hour or two in there.  I wound up hitting pay dirt on a Fu Dao Le with a nice $90 win at Harrah's!

$90 win

After our jaunt in the casino we proceeded west and soon entered California.  Believe it or not, there weren't any big announcements (at least from what I saw) when you crossed the border.  I did notice however, that prices of gasoline jumped up dramatically upon entering California.  Also traffic was significantly heavier too.

I did manage to pull off a side road and find a place to quickly park and snap pictures of a beach area.  You don't know how badly I wanted to sit and kick back in the sand and enjoy the low 80's sunshine:

Leaving highway 50, highway 89 got significantly more interesting to drive and view.  There were plenty of switchbacks, construction zones and jaw dropping views.  I particularly loved Emerald Bay (please note, some of the photos were taken by Shari while I was driving):

Emerald Bay

Emerald Bay

After heading north, the road got more pine filled and a lot of times were lost site of the lake.  There were handfuls of state parks that wanted money to enter.  Again, being that I wasn't with walkers, we didn't enter in any of them.  Definitely something to do next time.

I did manage to pull over in Homewood, California and snap some pictures of the marina / beach area:

Upon reentering Nevada we were once again greeted by casinos.  The ones on the north side of the lake are pretty small by comparison to South Lake Tahoe.  We did stop into Crystal Bay Club Casino and used the bathrooms.  I didn't see anything there that was worthy of my money but I had people with me who liked older machines and they enjoyed playing a bit.

Finally, the southern drive on the Nevada side back to the start is also absolutely stunning.  There are some views of Lake Tahoe that are reminiscent of looking at the Pacific Ocean along Highway 101.  There were a few spots that I would've loved to have explored further, but I did manage to snap a few pictures at one turn off:


All told, the trip probably took around 4 hours or so, including the multiple stops we made.  Without traffic and construction, the trip would take about 2 hours.  

I definitely want to explore some of the hiking points and look forward to returning here sometime in the future.

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