Lake Tahoe a Winter Resort Wonderland

October 19, 2011

All those searching for the perfect ski destination this winter might want to take a look in the direction of Lake Tahoe.

There are fabulous locations throughout the United States that provide superb alpine terrain for skiers and snowboarders, such as Vail, Park City, Jackson Hole, Stowe, and Aspen. While each area is a superb winter getaway in and of itself, the number of other ski resort options in the general vicinity are usually very limited.

All travelers hope their next family vacation goes as perfectly as possible. After all, because of work and other obligations most people are only able to vacation once or twice a year. Throw in the cost of travel, room and board, and lift tickets, and the pressure for the time away to go as well as it can grows intense.

Then there is the issue of snow. If a specific resort doesn’t get any precipitation for an extended period of time or is hit by unseasonably warm temperatures, levels may get extremely low and conditions very slushy and even rocky. This may be enough to put a rather large dent in one’s vacation – and his or her ski or snowboard.

Then there’s Lake Tahoe.

With a slew of major, top-notch ski resorts all within an hour’s drive of each other, the options for winter-bound vacationers are near endless. Considering they are all ideally situated at different locations in and around the lake and all at various elevations greatly increases the chances that several resorts will have the perfect snow conditions.

The list of world-renown ski resorts all within a quick morning drive of each other is quite impressive: Kirkwood, Heavenly Valley, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Alpine Meadows. Squaw Valley, Mt. Rose, and Sugar Bowl. Then there are other fantastic resorts designed ideally for families that also have black diamond slopes ready to challenge any novice or expert: Homewood, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Donner Ski Ranch, Diamond Peak, and Boreal to name a few.

With so many resorts to choose from all within or next to the Tahoe Basin, it’s no wonder many expert ski officials are pushing for the Winter Olympics to return to the area.

Vacation time is limited, especially when it comes to skiing and snowboarding as the there are only a few months to choose from out of the year. That is why anybody planning a winter getaway might want to select a destination that hosts multiple superb ski resorts.

Not only will it increase the chances that the snow conditions will be optimal, but skiers and snowboarders get to try a variety of different runs instead of the same old terrain every day.

In the end, it’s a pretty popular viewpoint: when it comes to selecting the best place to spend a winter vacation, Lake Tahoe may be a vision of perfection.


It’s a Fact – Lake Tahoe Pretty Cool

October 10, 2011

Anybody who has ever been to Lake Tahoe knows what a unique place it is. While the natural alpine beauty is remarkable, there are a few other cool facts that make it such a hot vacation destination.

For one, Lake Tahoe is known in the scientific world as oligotrophic. That means that it is still relatively free of the nutrients, such as phosphorous and nitrogen, that lead to algae growth and a decline in water clarity. The increase in erosion and pollution runoff as a result of the ever-expanding human population have resulted in most lakes around the country – and the world – becoming eutrophic.

Despite the year-round population surrounding it, Lake Tahoe remains classified as oligotrophic. While the clarity of the lake is, unfortunately, decreasing each year, that is pretty darn cool. Other facts that make Lake Tahoe even cooler:

* It is the largest alpine lake in North America.

* With a depth of 1,645 feet, it’s the second deepest lake in the USA (Crater Lake, Ore., is #1)

* It is 22 miles long and 12 miles wide. The shoreline is 71 miles long (42 miles in California, 29 in Nevada).

*If completely drained, the amount of water in the lake would cover the entire state of California 14 inches deep (it roughly contains 39 trillion gallons of water).

* The amount of water lost to evaporation each day (if it were able to be recovered), is enough to supply the daily water needs of most large cities.

* While there are an estimated 63 streams that flow into the lake, there is only one outlet: The Truckee River.

* Most bodies of water eventually lead to the ocean, but the Truckee River travels eastward into the Nevada desert and flows into Pyramid Lake.

* The lake was formed about 2 to 3 million years ago by normal geological faulting (block faulting). A fracture in the earth’s crust caused blocks of land to move up (Carson range on the east and Sierra Nevada on west) and down (Tahoe Basin).

* The Lake was first named “Lake Bigler” after John Bigler, the third governor of California. While the US Department of Interior did introduce the name Lake Tahoe in 1862, it didn’t formally receive it until 1945.

* The first documented European ever to see Lake Tahoe was explorer and surveyor John C. Fremont.

* The original native inhabitants of the region were the Washoe tribe. The name Tahoe (DaOwAga) translates to “edge of the lake.”

* Despite being at an elevation of 6,225, Lake Tahoe never freezes.

* While some winter days can bring lots of snow, in more than 50 years of weather history, 80% of the days have been classified as sunny.

* The Tahoe Basin averages 8.3 inches of rain and 216 (18 feet) of snow every year.

While there are many interesting facts about Lake Tahoe, the beautiful alpine setting may be the primary one that keeps bringing people back each and every year. All the fantastic winter and summer outdoor activities help too.

Whatever the reasons, Lake Tahoe is a clearly a cool place to visit.


Gambling in North Tahoe? You Betcha!

August 5, 2011

It may be illegal at Bushwood Country Club, but gambling is definitely permitted in the state of Nevada. In fact, since it’s the number one revenue generator for the Silver State, all visitors are actually encouraged to spend at least a little time in a casino searching for Lady Luck.

While the north shore of Lake Tahoe makes up just a tiny fraction of the 36th state to join the Union, it does have its fair share of gambling parlors. Most of which tourists can’t miss – no matter how hard they try – as signs and blinking lights bombard them as they drive into Nevada from Kings Beach, Ca.

It’s not the Las Vegas strip, but the small community of Crystal Bay is home to four of the area’s five casinos: Cal-Neva, Crystal Bay, Jim Kelley’s Tahoe Nugget, and the Tahoe Biltmore. There are many restaurants and bars that contain video poker machines, but the only other casino on the north shore is the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe in Incline Village.

Most come to this little alpine section of the Sierra Nevada for a little rest and relaxation amid the breathtaking natural beauty. To them, enrichment to their lives comes from enjoying the outdoors and spending time with family and friends – not from any potential winnings at a blackjack or craps table.

For those that do decide to take their full house and go straight to the casinos, each one offers a great chance to try to double-down on the vacation fun. There are a few common sense things everyone should keep in mind, though, that may help keep a few more cents in the pockets.

One of which is: Do not gamble with money you can’t afford to lose. Gambling should be viewed as entertainment and any extra cash that might be won considered added bonus to an otherwise fun outing.

All those twinkling lights one sees in and out of each casino amounts to one extremely hefty utility bill. Yet, it’s a tab the casino does not have any trouble picking up. The reason: the odds on all gambling games is stacked in its favor and most gamblers walk out of a casino with less money than they had walking in. Since the “house” has every advantage, sometimes its wise to stay and have a good time at home.

Still, it can be fun and some people do in fact win. Thus, gambling might be something worth doing while vacationing in the area. After all, as the saying goes: “When in Rome.” Or, in this case, Nevada.

There are many different games to choose from, but the ones with the best odds – or the ones with the least “house” edge – are as follows: craps, blackjack, baccarat, pai gow, and then roulette.

While that is a nice list to follow, it is a bit more complicated as the edge is really dictated by how one bets in each game. For example, bettors have the most chances to win at craps, but that’s if they stick to the Pass/Come and Don’t Pass/Don’t Come lines. Roulette is also one of the best choices if gamblers only bet on red or black.

Then there’s Sports Betting. While not quite the same as betting on whether Judge Smails will slice his tee shot or not, it is just as simple. Gamblers simply pick a team (or individual athlete) they believe will win a sporting contest.  To make things more fair, a line or odds are placed on each game or match.

In the end, the important thing to remember is have fun. While the house does have the edge, just about everyone finds Lady Luck at one point. If not, though, best to just say “Gunga galunga” and continue having a great Tahoe vacation.


Lake Tahoe a World-Wide Wonder

July 21, 2011

Shadowed by giant pine trees and towering granite peaks, one look out at the vast, dark blue shimmering water of Lake Tahoe is all it takes to know it is a natural phenomenon. In the eyes of scientists, it’s also very special – and the reasons are just as crystal-clear.

Lake Tahoe

In terms of ecological condition – Lake Tahoe is defined as“oligotrophic.” Basically, that is scientific jargon for saying it is a clear, mostly nutrient-free body of water. Because of the ever-expanding global human population and the impacts it has on the surrounding areas, there are not many oligotrophic lakes left in the world.

Whether it’s an increase in erosion, particles discharged through runoff, or elements entering through the atmosphere, most lakes witness an influx of nutrients over time. This not only clouds the water, but fuels the growth of algae, which feeds off the nitrogen and phosphorus. This causes the lake to eutrophy – scientific jargon for turning murky and green.

That is one main reason why Lake Tahoe remains so exceptional. Not only is it and the surrounding Sierra Nevada breath-taking to look at, but the water itself is still relatively pure and blue.

Unfortunately, though, things are changing. It takes but one swim at Burnt Cedar Beach in Incline to realize that. Granite rocks that were once easily identifiable by their varying colors of quartz are now covered by a thin, green slime. The water that Mark Twain once called in 1871 “…not merely transparent, but dazzlingly, brilliantly so” is slowly losing clarity.

For the past 40 years or so, researchers have studied the ecological condition of the lake. The results of which are showing that developments and the exhaust from automobiles in the greater area are causing the water to turn opaque. Less than a half of century ago, one could see objects on the lake floor at depths of 100 feet. Today, that is roughly hovering at an average of 68 feet.

The good news is studies conducted over the past 10 years have shown the overall clarity has held steady. By identifying fine particles as the main culprit, area agencies have taken steps – mainly erosion control projects – to keep sediment from pouring into the lake. Academic institutions, such as UC Davis, public agencies, and the private sector in and around the Tahoe Basin are working hard to restore the watershed.

Because of this, Lake Tahoe still remains one of the clearest alpine lakes in the world and, thus, retains the term “oligotrophic.” To all residents and visitors, that is clearly scientific jargon for special.

To learn more about the ecological state of Lake Tahoe, feel free to visit http://terc.ucdavis.edu or http://www.trpa.org. 


When it Comes to Great Things To Do – Tahoe Rocks

July 11, 2011

It is no secret that the Lake Tahoe area is a very unique and beautiful alpine setting. So much so, that many visitors are content simply relaxing on a back deck under the towering pine trees or taking a leisurely stroll along the sandy shores that border the crystal clear water. For those that harbor a little more sense of adventure, though, there are some great outdoor activities and places to see while vacationing on the north shore.

The Flume Trail

The Flume Trail – Considered one of the finest mountain bike trail rides in all the world. This east shore, “rim” trail offers incredible views of Marlette Lake, Spooner Lake, and Lake Tahoe. Most start at Spooner Lake and work northward back toward Incline Village. There is a fairly steep climb to start, roughly 4 miles long, but riders can take their time. Once to the top at Marlette Lake,  it’s a fairly level ride until the descent into the Incline area. It does get very narrow at times and riders are encouraged to take caution. While it will take a bit longer, hikers can also walk the first part to Marlette Lake and to the Lake Tahoe view portion of this incredible trail. There are mountain biking outfits, too, for riders to use if they want to rent bikes and get dropped off.

Sand Harbor and East Shore Rocks – While the entire Lake Tahoe shoreline is absolutely stunning, some say the eastern portion is the best to spend a sunny afternoon. The huge granite boulders lying on top of one another and adjacent to each other not only create a natural wonder of their own, but the results are some of the best swimming holes known on the planet. While the rock jumping and underwater exploring are unbelievable, caution is advised. Water does obscure depth perception, so be careful. The parking along the east shore can be tough, too, as there is not much room on the shoulder of Highway 28 (a National Scenic Byway). Sand Harbor State Park offers an easy place to pull in and park the car. The sandy beaches also provide a nice place to set up camp for the day and from there the family can explore the nearby area. A day use fee is required and it does get crowded, so go early if possible – especially on a weekend. (Also, of interest might be the Shakespeare Festival that is held at Sand Harbor during specific summer evenings. It is definitely one of the best outdoor venues in the country.)

Truckee River

Truckee River Rafting – While not technically on the north shore, the beauty of the Truckee River and the slow-moving current make it ideal for a great family outing. Plus, Tahoe City is just an easy 30 minute drive away, which qualifies it still as a perfect north shore activity. The trip goes from Tahoe City to River Ranch at the entrance to Alpine Meadows. Visitors can take their own raft or rent through one the many rafting companies set up at the “Y” in Tahoe City (just down from Fanny Bridge). The easy-going river is excellent for families of all ages and there are plenty of spots along the way  to swim and stop for lunch. Most swim as they float down river. A nice little rapid at the end provides the perfect little excitement to wake rafters back up for a nice cold beverage and appetizer at River Ranch.

Northstar-at-Tahoe – Many don’t realize that this popular ski resort in fact is open during the summer. Several lifts and the gondola actually run during the day to take mountain bike riders to the top so they can use the steep terrain for a little two-wheel, off-road fun. Hikers are also encouraged to come out and enjoy the many trails the 2400-acre resort has the offer. There is also horse-back riding at Northstar and a very quaint village at the base of the ski slope that offers the perfect lunch and shopping venue.

Spooner Lake

Spooner Lake Loop Trail – Situated at the junction of Highway 28 and US Highway 50, this little alpine lake is sort of a little secret beauty. While the place may look crowded upon arrival, most are heading up to Marlette Lake and the Flume Trail to hike and mountain bike (another good idea by the way!). There is a day use fee as Spooner sits inside the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, but it’s well worth it as the easy 2-mile hike around the lake is a perfect morning or  afternoon activity. It is also a popular birdwatching area as it is frequented by osprey, woodpeckers, owls, and other avian wildlife.

Mt. Rose Meadows – Most simply pass right on by the Mt. Rose Meadows on their way to Incline Village or Reno on Highway 431. This high-alpine meadow and surrounding hills, however, provide quite an exhilarating hiking and biking experience. While there is an official Mt. Rose Trail that connects with the Tahoe Rim Trail, there are a plethora of hiking trails that criss-cross the entire area offering vistas that take in the entire Tahoe Basin or Washoe Valley. Visitors can park at the snowpark area or along the highway itself. Cars – and street cyclists – do move fast on the highway, though, so if parking along the road watch those car doors, your young kids, and pets.

Burnt Cedar Beach

Ski, Incline, Burnt Cedar Beaches – These are the three spots that make up the Incline Village General Improvement beaches. Visitors need a valid IVGID Recreation pass, so they are not technically open to the public. Passes to all the beaches, however, are included in rental properties in Incline Village, so entry is allowed with a daily use fee. Ski Beach contains a boat launching facility and a volleyball court. Incline Beach has a nice play area for the kids, a snack bar, and a roped off swimming area. Burnt Cedar has a roped off swimming area, sandy cove, and a jetty to walk out on. It also contains a heated outdoor swimming pool and hot tub. A playground and a snack bar are also at Burnt Cedar. All beaches have picnic facilities, places to barbecue, and nice grassy areas to relax on.

The picturesque Sierra Nevada topography is reason enough to spend a vacation in Lake Tahoe. Anything else that is done while basking in the region’s natural allure is simply added bonus. But, the truth is, there are many great places to see and fantastic things to do if one does just happen to get a little burnt out on the other less adventurous activities.

There are plenty of other activities and places to go while on the north shore of Lake Tahoe (casinos, golf courses, mini golf, sailboat rides, paddle boats, mackinaw fishing). Please consult your Goldfish Properties @ Lake Tahoe welcome packet for more ideas and information. Or give us a call at (800) 948-7311.


Fourth Brings Big Crowds, Loads of Fun

July 6, 2011

The north shore of Lake Tahoe witnessed one of the biggest crowds ever to descend upon the area during a Fourth of July celebration. The large number of people and the extra traffic around town, did little to stop all the fun and excitement.

When it comes to holiday festivities, the town of Incline Village literally almost had it all going on this go-around. From live music to barbecues to fireworks to a helicopter hovering over the beach, visitors were able to enjoy non-stop events and activities.

It started off with a dance and ended with a bang.

On the Thursday before the big weekend, residents and tourists alike flocked – and boogied – to the street dance at a local popular Mexican restaurant. It was all down the Incline hill from there in terms of exciting events.

Folks lined the streets on Saturday to cheer and show their pride as their fellow classmates, friends, family members, countrymen and women strolled down Tahoe Boulevard in the “America the Beautiful” parade. It was on to live music, great food and drink at the Village Green. The evening was topped with a fabulous “Beer and Brat” celebration (many called it the “Beer and Hotdog” celebration to make it more fitting.)

Sunday brought in a heart-warming, and heart-stopping, performance by the California Air National Guard. Pararescuemen dropped from a HH Pave Hawk Helicopter hovering just above the waters off Incline Beach into the lake in a mock recovery mission. It was an awe-inspiring tribute to the men and women who served  – and continue to serve – this great country.

Independence Day brought just about everyone down to the shores of Lake Tahoe as the beach was filled to the mackinaw gills with towels, blankets, tents, umbrellas, canopies, and people. Those that were able to last into the night – or came back to the sand or nearby Village Green – were again treated to a beautiful fireworks display. (The reflection off the calm waters of the dark lake may make Tahoe one of the most elite locations to host the annual pyrotechnic show.)

The holiday weekend was nothing short of a huge success. Despite the extra large crowds, there was little to complain about. Perhaps a few tiny inconveniences, but in the end, nothing but huge smiles and enormous pride were had by all.

Note: Another fabulous Fourth of July holiday is behind us, but plenty of summer fun – Tahoe style – still ahead. Feel free to call Goldfish Properties to find out more about our great vacation rentals. (800) 948-7311


Fourth of July – Tahoe Style

June 28, 2011

There may be no better place on earth to spend the Fourth of July holiday than Lake Tahoe. The warm temperatures and crystal clear waters set among the giant pine trees and towering granite mountains is reason in itself to celebrate. Throw in a weekend of fantastic events and it’s no wonder more and more people will be honoring this great country by showing off their red, white, and Tahoe blue.

Happy Birthday America!

While it may be an Independence Day celebration, the residents on the north shore have an extended weekend of fun activities planned. Actually, thanks to some local merchants the holiday party gets kicked off even before the weekend.

On Thursday, there will be a “Star Spangled Street Dance” held in the parking lot of La Hacienda. The event, sponored by the Optimist Club, features live music, a dunk tank,  an “Uncle Sam Relay,” and lots of tasty food and cold beverages.

The All-American fun continues Saturday with a pancake breakfast at Incline’s main firehouse at 8 am. At 10 am, the town will host its “America the Beauty Parade,” which will run through the center of town to the Village Green. Later that afternoon, the excitement turns toward the sky – and while not for an early fireworks display, something just as amazing.

Pararescuemen will drop from an MC-130 and parachute down into the waters off Incline Beach. A HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopoter will then swoop down and hover over them – and a mock survivor – until they are safely brought aboard (mock survivor included).

On Independence Day, there is a whole slew of family events planned throughout the north shore. It all reaches its crescendo that evening with the annual fireworks show at Incline Beach. (For a complete list of events, visit http://redwhiteandtahoeblue.com/events.html.)

Tahoe City has its 65th annual fireworks show that evening as well. The bright lights can be seen from Incline Beach across the lake, so keep an eye out for a nice double feature. Neighboring community Kings Beach launches its pyrotechnic display the day earlier on Sunday evening – thus there will be plenty of eye- and ear-popping sulphuric enjoyment for all.

In the end, while extremely exciting, it’s not the pomp and circumstance that matters each and every Independence Day. It’s more about the quality time spent with friends and family and remembering all the men and women who have made the Red, White, and Blue so great. That in itself is reason enough to celebrate.

Have a great and safe Fourth of July.