End of Summer Fun in North Lake Tahoe

When you think of North Lake Tahoe, you normally get a mental picture of snow capped mountains and awesome skiing. But the simple truth is it’s a huge outdoor playground for all ages in the summer – just like it is in the winter. In fact many Bay Area natives will spend a week or more up in the mountains during the summer, simply because there is so much stuff to do.

Here is a rundown of some favorite activities. As of two weeks ago the temperatures were in the 80’s. What are you waiting for?

River Rafting

If you haven’t gone river rafting before, the Truckee River is a wonderful way to get initiated. More of a float than anything else, outfits like Truckee River Rafting offer self-paddled rafts that you can navigate down a five mile stretch of water that has gentle class 1 rapids. They will also pick you up at the other end and take you back to your car. And, if you have young kids with you, don’t fret. This stretch of river is perfect for every age group, from two year olds and up.

Lake Activities

You can’t go to Lake Tahoe in the summer without enjoying the lake itself. But, unless you are set on renting a speed boat, consider bypassing Lake Tahoe for Donner Lake instead. You can still rent paddle boards, jet skis, kayaks etc. and it is a lot less busy. Plus, if you are staying at a property in nearby Tahoe Donner, make sure you use your guest pass so that you can access the private Tahoe Donner Beach Club Marina with its sandy beach, onsite café and cheap water sport equipment.

That said, if you are going to Lake Tahoe, you may want to consider a trip to Emerald Bay Beach. Accessible by car or watercraft, it has been dubbed one of the “most photographed places on earth.” And, if you head on over in a boat rental, make sure you stop at Sunnyside on the way back to fill up with gas and grab a deck-side drink or appetizer.


Pony Trail at Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center

Horse Riding

Speaking of Tahoe Donner, there is a great Equestrian Center that is open to the public during the summer months. Book a trail ride or sign up you little ones for a pony ride along wooded trails. And if you are in the mood for BBQ, check out one of their special Saturday Night BBQ’s complete with entertainment, crafts, wagon rides and competitions for the kids.


There are so many camping options in North Lake Tahoe, it is hard to choose. More importantly, most cost as little as $17 per night and some are even free. Each campground typically features large sites with parking, picnic benches, fire pits, and BBQ grills. Locations vary from being situated next to rivers or creeks, to overlooking lakes and reservoirs, or being 5 miles off the beaten-path in the middle of nowhere. Even though you can book in advance (necessary for weekends at popular campgrounds), it is still possible to grab one of the first-come-first-serve sites that many campgrounds hold back for last-minute visitors.


Whether you are looking for a gentle hike out by Prosser Reservoir or something a little more challenging, North Lake Tahoe has it all. In my experience, some of the best trails can be found simply by asking a knowledgeable local, like the staff at Ace Hardware in downtown Truckee. However you can also find trail information online through Tahoe Donner and the USDA Forest Service.


Less than a 30 minute drive from Truckee, Reno offers a different kind of playground if you want to escape the outdoors briefly. Here you will find Wild Island, complete with go-cart racing, a huge water park, bowling, mini golf and more. And for adults looking for Lady Luck, there are always the black jack and poker tables downtown.

Featured Image: Paragliding in Lake Tahoe (Shutterstock.com)

Fly.com Expert Tips

How To Get There: Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) is approximately 45 minutes drive to North Lake Tahoe and is serviced by 11 domestic and international airline carriers. Information regarding area transportaion is available here.
Best Time To Visit: Lake Tahoe is a year round destination offering both summer and winter activities. The best time to visit is typically September and October, or mid-Spring, when the crowds aren’t as large and the weather is usually nice and pleasant.

Sample Fares: Fares displayed are the lowest roundtrip fares found in the last 48 hours to Reno from:
Cleveland — $284 Travel Oct. 18-27
Denver — $254 Travel Sept. 11-11
Las Vegas — $234 Travel Sept. 10-14
Los Angeles — $201 Travel Nov 15-21
Seattle — $210 Travel Sept. 27-30
Flights to Reno >>
* All fares are roundtrip including all taxes and are accurate at time of publication. For updated pricing, conduct a new search on Fly.com.


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