Picture this: you’re pedaling through crisp fall air, the mild chill biting your nose while the sun warms your back. To one side of you, you see a vast expanse of pristine blue water. On the other, bright fall leaves mix with evergreen needles. You enjoy the view, knowing that a mug of hot apple cider awaits you at the end of your ride. Life is good.
If this is your autumn dream, you need to plan a trip to Lake Tahoe in the fall. Lake Tahoe is the ultimate getaway for anyone who wants to see unparalleled autumn views. The summer crowds have dispersed, the weather is brisk but pleasant, and the views are spectacular. From enjoying some final hikes before the snow settles into windswept beach walks to finding a cozy place to curl up, you will find some autumn bliss in Lake Tahoe.
Here are our favorite ways to make the most of fall in Lake Tahoe!
Tips for Planning Your Fall Lake Tahoe Trip
- Bring waterproof outerwear for any outdoor adventures. Fall weather in Lake Tahoe can be unpredictable and enthusiastic, so don’t get caught in the rain unprepared! Bring a rain jacket everywhere you go.
- Wear layers for the unpredictable weather. In the early fall, you can experience the cold-hot-cold days at their finest. Instead of needing to change every few hours, bring layers.
- Choose the right time to see the fall foliage. Blink, and you’ll miss it! Well, not quite – but the fall leaves are not a months-long event. It’s a couple of weeks at most, so don’t plan a trip too early or too late to get the best fall views. Shoot for early to mid-October!
- Be bear aware. Wildlife isn’t yet in hibernation mode, and critters may be even more active before they coop up for the year.
- Consider alternative lake activities. Trust us – you will not want to swim in the fall unless you are very stubborn. Don’t worry! You can still get in the water. Just do it in a boat or kayak!
Top 3 Places to Stay During Fall in Lake Tahoe
Unfortunately, unless you squeeze in at the beginning of fall, most campsites will be closed until spring. Lake Tahoe campsites tend to shut their metaphorical doors for the year at the end of September or the beginning of October.
As the exact closing date can depend on the specific campsite and weather, we recommend you check with the U.S. Forest Service or the California State Parks to learn more about campsite availability in the fall.
There are so many hotels around Lake Tahoe that easily transition from an airy summer getaway to a cozy fall retreat. Here are some of our favorites:
- North Lake Tahoe
Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe: The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe is our top pick for the most well-rounded hotel experience in North Lake Tahoe. It is a luxurious waterfront resort with cabin decor and stunning lake views. Guests can enjoy the resort’s pool, campfire lounge areas and a convenient bike rental service just minutes from the famous East Shore Trail.
- South Lake Tahoe
Black Bear Lodge: Right on the shore of South Lake Tahoe, Black Bear Lodge is an adorable and intimate boutique hotel with charming cabin vibes. The cozy cabins and suites are perfect for a romantic getaway, and the property is close to the lake.
Hotel Azure: Enjoy the south shore of Lake Tahoe at this airy boutique hotel steps away from the beach. The modern alpine design keeps the rooms bright and clean, perfect for easy relaxation. This family-friendly spot is an ideal home base after a day of exploring the area.
3. Home Rental
If you are coming with a family or larger group that wants space, a vacation home rental is a great option. Several properties in and near Lake Tahoe have stunning accommodations, like private lakeview balconies, hot tubs, and full kitchens. Feel like you’re home away from home with one of several vacation rentals!
Where to See The Best Fall Colors in Lake Tahoe
You will have a hard time NOT seeing stunning fall views on your fall Tahoe adventure, but here are some spots that feel extra special.
North Lake Tahoe
The East Shore Trail is a stunning walking and biking trail that will wind you through gorgeous lake and fall views. This easy trail covers bridges and the shoreline to Sand Harbor, another beautiful area to enjoy. We highly recommend renting bikes to cover more ground and catch as much stunning autumn scenery as possible. Big Blue Bike Rentals is located just a few minutes from the trailhead, making it a very convenient and scenic activity! With sizes for kids and adults, everyone can get in on the fun.
Head to Tahoe Meadows Loop in Northeastern Lake Tahoe to get a little more altitude for your views. This area is known for its impressive display of fall colors. The meadow is accessible via the Mount Rose Scenic Byway and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Take a hike or drive the Scenic Byway and enjoy the spectacular fall views.
South Lake Tahoe
Emerald Bay State Park has hiking trails and viewpoints perfect for enjoying the fall scenery. We highly recommend the famous Inspiration Point for panoramic lake views framed by colorful trees.
Hope Valley is renowned for its vibrant fall foliage. Even the drive to the valley is a worthwhile activity! Drive along Highway 88, or explore hiking trails like the Hope Valley Trail for lovely views of golden aspens peppered across the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Best Fall Activities in Lake Tahoe
You’ll find more than enough ways to fill your fall days, but here are some of our favorite indoor and outdoor fall activities in Lake Tahoe.
It may seem a little early in the year to head to Heavenly Mountain Resort, but we promise you can find fun there with or without snow! The Heavenly Gondola is a perfect activity for groups and families to soar over mountain and lake scenery. The gondola ride is about 15 minutes, and you’ll get dropped off at several trailheads for a great fall hike.
If you get caught on a rainy day and don’t want to rough it through the soggy weather, there are plenty of indoor activities to try. You can check out the casinos on Lake Tahoe’s south shore for some gambling and fun. If you want a fun learning experience with your family, visit the Lake Tahoe Historical Society Museum in South Lake Tahoe or the Gatekeeper’s Museum in Tahoe City. If you want a relaxing splurge, there are several mountain spas to consider. Tahoe City has all standard indoor activities, from bowling to movie theaters to shopping. No matter what type of break from the weather you want, you can find it around the lake.
There are only a few weeks of peak fall to enjoy – make the most of it with a Lake Tahoe getaway! Looking for the best way to get around and take in the views? Big Blue Bike Rentals will get you on the seat of a bike and cruising through the lake and fall foliage views in no time. Reach out to our team to reserve your bike for your Lake Tahoe weekend getaway!