Lake Tahoe is known mostly for its ski crowds or for summer fun on the water. However, many visitors tend to skip the fall season when families have to go back to school. This is a shame, as fall is a beautiful and nearly ideal time to head up to the lake; the summer winds have calmed down, the sun is warm rather than baking and most of the beaches, hiking trails and even the lake are empty of the high season hordes.
A deserted Sand Harbor in November — Photo courtesy of MrMitch
Fall color is one of the main reasons to visit the lake that straddles the California and Nevada border. The local cottonwood trees and alpine groves are just beginning to turn various shades of golden yellow, orange or bright red. One of the best places to see the fall colors is on the Mount Rose hike, the trail around Fallen Leaf Lake or the trail up to Marlette Lake. Some great beaches are available for picnics, dog walks or even some fall swimming. Sand Harbor's summer crowds are gone, but one of the best places to see late summer and fall foliage is at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center. You may even see some late season bears trying to fatten up on the river trout and salmon.
Fall leaves on the Upper Truckee River — Photo courtesy of jcookfisher
Local restaurants and hotels usually have fall specials during this time of year, making autumn one of the most affordable times for a visit. The River Grill on the Truckee River has a great outdoor deck, but also an outdoor fire pit in case it does get chilly. The Zephyr Cove Resort has fall specials for the lodge, cabins and their campground. If you're a guest of the Zephyr, you also get special discounts on the boat tours offered by the M.S. Dixie II.