South Lake Tahoe antique postcard
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First let's go underwater at Lake Tahoe

US Geological Survey takes you on a tour of Lake Tahoe like no other! Underwater Tahoe is fascinating.

Fascinating Underwater Images of Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

The folks at US Geological Survey have created a fabulous site that includes beautiful animations of Tahoe below the water! It includes: U.S. Geological Survey, Lake Tahoe Initiative, Geography and History, Lake Facts, GIS Data, DEM, DOQ, DLG, DRG, Bathymetry, Landsat 7, Landcover, Census, Soils, Partners, Help Desk, General Maps, Pictures, and more Lake Tahoe, and more Lake Tahoe Sources.

Can you guess where you would be standing on Lake Tahoe, if you were actually viewing the Lake bottom as shown in the image below? Hint: South Lake Tahoe is on the distant shore. Click on the image find out on the USGS Lake Tahoe Data Clearinghouse; then, start your discovery by searching for Lake Tahoe seafloor maps...

Lake Tahoe

More About South Lake Tahoe

In South Lake Tahoe, the lakeside's largest community, many restaurants, modest motels and pine-bound cottages stand side-by-side with the high-rise casinos and resorts of Stateline, Nevada just across the state border. You can enjoy playing with money at the tables and slot machines, and you can also explore the beautiful hiking trails, parks and beaches that populate the surrounding area.

Lake Tahoe: A Fragile Beauty Look in the Book...
Lake Tahoe A Fragile Beauty

Just next to South Lake Tahoe, the prettiest part of the lake is along the southwest shore, at Emerald Bay State Park, 10 miles to the west of South Lake Tahoe. It's not far from city amenities and there are paved walking and bicycling paths that take you along the Lake Tahoe shore and right up to the beach. You will find many parking places, nestled in the tall pine trees next to the beach. Campers also can find several good shoreline campgrounds, suitable for every visitor, whether you have a large motor home or a small tent.

Majestic Emerald Bay is just a small part of this beautiful and pristine State Park covering 1,830 acres of the Sierra Nevada mountains at Lake Tahoe. Here you will find six miles of both rocky and sandy beaches on the magnificent shoreline of Lake Tahoe. Also available to visitors are picnic areas, camping and miles of hiking trails. Enjoy nature and see the beautiful variety of trees and plants that are indigenous to the Lake Tahoe area. Along with the Ponderosa and Jeffrey pines, red and white fir, cedar, junipers and cottonwood, the park is brimming with gnarled and stunted sugar pines that grow in thin granite soil. Take a stroll along the Balancing Rock nature trail and see a 130-ton rock that balances precariously on a slender stone base. This has been a favorite attraction since the late 1800s. It's a short and easy half-mile, self-guided walk that you really must try. Plan on spending the entire day, because once you get here, you won't want to leave.

This is your jumping off point for a road tour around Lake Tahoe. Traveling northward up the west shore road, you can decide visit a castle as part of your tour! A mile from the parking lot at Vikingsholm is an unlikely reproduction Viking castle! The castle is open to the public in the summer (a fee is charged).

Travel 2 more miles north to Sugar Pine Point State Park, the home of the huge Ehrman Mansion (open daily - a fee is charged). The mansion is decorated in 30's era furnishings. You may have seen the extensive lakefront grounds before if you watched the movie The Godfather II.

The rest of the 75-mile drive around Lake Tahoe is lovely, and some travel brochures claim that it is "the most beautiful drive in America."

Another way to see it is to take a paddlewheel boat cruise on the MS Dixie II, from Zephyr Cove, which is in Nevada just to the north as you travel up the east shore. To get to the cruise boat, start at South Lake Tahoe. If you ask one of the resort concierges, you can find out where and when you can board the free shuttle to the dock, or sign up for other boat tours through one of the larger casinos.

Interesting Stats About South Lake Tahoe

    Country United States

    State California

    Land Area

      - Total 16.5 sq mi (42.7 km²)

      - Land 10.1 sq mi (26 km²)

      - Water 6.4 sq mi (16.7 km²)

      Elevation 6,237 ft (1,901 m)

    Population (2000)

      - Total 23,609

      - Density 1,430.8/sq mi (552.9/km²)

    Time zone Pacific (PDT) (UTC-8)

      - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)

    ZIP code 96150

    Area code(s) 530

    FIPS code 06-73108

    GNIS feature ID 1659822

South Lake Tahoe is a city in El Dorado County, California, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Living in South Lake Tahoe

The east end of the City of South Lake Tahoe, on the California-Nevada state line, is mainly geared towards tourism, with T-shirt shops, restaurants, hotels, and the Heavenly Ski Resort with the Nevada casinos just across the state line in Stateline, Nevada. It's a little difficult to know whether you are still in South Lake Tahoe or if you have crossed the border to Stateline, however just keep in mind that casinos are only allowed on the Nevada side, and that will tell you which state you are in. The border is right there at Embassy Suites.

The City of South Lake Tahoe extends about five miles west-southwest along highway 50, also known as Lake Tahoe Blvd. The western end of town is mainly residential and vacation rental properties, and it clusters around "The Y", the X-shaped intersection of US Highway 50, state highway 89, and Lake Tahoe Boulevard after it loses its federal/state highway designation. At The Y, you will find factory stores, coffee shops and other businesses to explore. There's also a bus terminal where the bus to and from Sacramento arrives and departs.

So, the town is pretty spread out! According to the United States Census Bureau, the City of South Lake Tahoe has a total area of 16.5 square miles (42.7 km²), of which, 10.1 square miles (26.1 km²) of it is land and 6.4 square miles (16.7 km²) of it (39.03%) is water. Elevation is 6260 ft. which is quite a bit more than a mile high! Due to the extreme elevation, remember to drink your water and also that it might be a little more difficult when climbing stairs and mountain trails. For old folks and those with heart conditions, Lake Tahoe can be quite a strain, in fact. So, just take it easy and enjoy your visit at a slower pace.

South Lake Tahoe is part of the Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville Metropolitan Statistical Area.