Autumn in Lake Tahoe: 7 Reasons to Visit Lake Tahoe in Fall

Autumn in Lake Tahoe is a magical time. Though you can visit the area any time of the year, its beauty becomes otherworldly whenever the fall months roll in. This beauty, along with the many fall activities available, is why Lake Tahoe is considered one of the top fall destinations in the US.

Why should you spend autumn in Lake Tahoe? We’ve listed seven reasons that may convince you to plan a trip to Lake Tahoe before winter sets in.

Reason #1: Autumn in Lake Tahoe is leaf-peeping season

autumn in lake tahoe: view of fall foliage and snowy mountain by the lake
Fall foliage and snowy peaks around Lake Tahoe | Pixabay

Sierra Nevada, the mountain range flanking Lake Tahoe, is a spectacular sight any time of the year. In autumn, these mountains become more majestic as their covering of quaking aspens and cottonwood trees turn gold and red. These bright and fiery colors create a dramatic contrast with the evergreen trees the aspens and cottonwoods share space with. There are many ways you can enjoy leaf peeping in Lake Tahoe. One of them is to go on a slow drive on the Mt. Rose Scenic Byway or on Highway 89 to Hope Valley.

Reason #2: Autumn in Lake Tahoe means uncrowded trails

Another way, and some may say the better way, to enjoy leaf peeping in Lake Tahoe is by hiking or biking the trails winding around the area. Prepare to spend a lot of time on the trail, though, as you won’t be able to help yourself from stopping and enjoying the autumn view. What makes hiking and biking when it’s autumn in Lake Tahoe is the significant lack of crowds. So you’re likely to enjoy many of the trails still open for the season by your lonesome. Bring a friend with you so you won’t feel lonely on the trail. If you feel like doing an easy hike, try the trails around Taylor Creek Visitor Center. But if you’re up for a challenge, take your mountain bike and cycle the 165-mile length of the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Reason #3: It’s still warm enough to play in the water

autumn in lake tahoe: kayaking
Kayaking on Lake Tahoe | KerryMAT/Pixabay

The waters of Lake Tahoe can be chilly all year-round, but it’s usually still warm enough for a swim until the first week of November. Swimming isn’t the only water fun you can do at Lake Tahoe too. The lake is known for its fabulous scuba dives. You can also boat, kayak, or drive a jet ski if you’re up to it. Or you can go on a cruise about the lake, which will give you a deeper appreciation of the fall colors exploding on the lakeshore. Before you play in the water, though, do check the weather forecast first. Weather is unpredictable and changeable in the Lake, and you won’t want to dip your toe in freezing water.

Reason #4: The beaches are isolated too

Even if the water feels too cold for a swim, you can still probably spread your towel on the beach and enjoy a soak of sunshine. Some beaches around Lake Tahoe, like Sand Harbor and Pope Beach, are open until late October. There are also a few that are open all year-round, like Kings Beach and Camp Richardson. The beautiful thing about these beaches when it’s autumn in Lake Tahoe is the lack of summer crowds. This means you can have the whole beach to yourself. Again, check the weather first before heading out to the beach for your fall-time sunbathing.

Reason #5: Salmon spawning and rainbow trout fishing

autumn in lake tahoe: rainbow trout fishing
Rainbow trout | Davgood Kirshot/Pixabay

Lake Tahoe is home to kokanee salmon, and autumn in Lake Tahoe means spawning time for the kokanee. Among their traditional spawning grounds is Taylor Creek, one of the lake’s 63 tributaries. You can visit Taylor Creek in early October to watch the kokanee spawn. And if you’re into trout fishing, autumn in Lake Tahoe is also rainbow trout fishing season. So make sure you pack your poles, lures, and warm clothing on your trip to the lake.

Reason #6: Autumn in Lake Tahoe is apple- and pumpkin-picking time

If you’re traveling with kids and/or foodies, a side trip to Apple Hill is a good thing to include in your Lake Tahoe holiday itinerary. During the fall months, the farms and orchards of Apple Hill open their doors to visitors who want to pick their own apples. You can even choose which farms to visit depending on the apple variety you prefer to pick. Plus, it’s not just apples that you can pick during this time. You can also bring home pumpkins for your Halloween carving, as well as fall and Thanksgiving pumpkin-flavored treats.

Reason #7: You can take advantage of price drops when it’s autumn in Lake Tahoe

Sierra Nevada has a lot of upscale resort towns; it can cost you an arm and a leg if you choose to holiday there in summer or the winter ski season. But prices can drop significantly if you choose to visit Lake Tahoe during the fall months instead. So, with a bit of savvy, you can vacation like royalty in tony Lake Tahoe destinations like Incline Village, where many of California and Nevada’s rich and famous have second homes, even on a budget.

Autumn in Lake Tahoe is a truly magical time. Make sure you don’t miss the chance to go on vacation to Lake Tahoe in fall.

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Anna is a wandering writer. If she isn't wandering, she's working on other blogs. And if she's not doing that, either she's reading or she's busy with a crafting project.