Home » 2012 Northern California Road Trip

Lake Tahoe, CA

Friday, June 1, 2012 - 2:30pm by Lolo
300 miles and 6 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


Herb usually lets me make all the itinerary decisions, but this time he overruled me. I wanted to go directly towards Yosemite and stay somewhere nearby, so that we could have another full day there. Instead, Herb wanted to enter Yosemite via the eastern entrance, which meant a longer drive (by about 150 miles), but one that would include Lake Tahoe and Mono Lake. Since he usually asks for so little in terms of itinerary choices, I didn’t have the heart to fight him.

Sunset at Lake TahoeSunset at Lake TahoeSo, we had a pretty long day of driving ahead of us – 300 miles, but it was scenic and this was new turf for us. Just as we were starting to get hungry, we found a nice park to picnic in alongside a very large lake. This was not just any large lake we learned, but Clear Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake that lies entirely in California – I guess Tahoe loses out because part of it is in Nevada. Not only is it the largest California lake, but it is also believed to be one of the oldest lakes in North America, at 480,000 years old. This claim does not go undisputed, however, as other experts believe the title goes to Mono Lake. In either case, it was a lovely spot for lunch, and if it wasn’t the oldest, we would be visiting Mono Lake tomorrow, so either way, we had it covered.

We rolled into south Tahoe near dinner time and began the search for accommodations. Now, I have to say that although the lake is stunningly beautiful, south Tahoe was not my cup of tea—a bit too like Vegas or Reno. Not that I didn’t have a great time when we were in Vegas, it’s just that I like my natural beauty separate from my neon lights. I think to really appreciate Lake Tahoe, and it really is beautiful, you have to be out in it in a boat, a kayak, a paddle board, or whatever, but just to be away from the commercialism along the south shore.

El Dorado Beach ArtworkEl Dorado Beach ArtworkWe found a Super 8 with a hot tub within walking distances to lots of restaurants and then headed down to El Dorado Beach, a nice public beach near the end of the strip where we could have a glass of wine and watch the sunset over the lake. Afterwards, we walked from our hotel to a brewpub called the Brewery at Lake Tahoe and had a nice dinner on the outdoor patio.

Back at the motel, I asked Herb for the keys to get something out of the trunk. A little while later, I asked him for the keys again because I had forgotten something else. By this time he was half asleep and beginning to get a little annoyed with me. “You never gave them back to me,” he mumbled, so I began searching the room to find where I had left them. That is when I had a vision flash through my mind of a set of keys lying on top of a cooler. Unfortunately, the cooler I was envisioning was locked inside the trunk of our rental car. “Uh oh.” Needless to say, Herb was not pleased.

I was in a total panic. I really, really wanted to get to Yosemite tomorrow. Every time we try to go there, something happens the day before. Last time in 2007, we lost our brakes coming out of Death Valley and Herb had to replace the brake lines in Lone Pine. Granted, this wasn’t as bad, but it definitely was not good.

In a panic, I ran down to the office, told the girl behind the desk what I had done, and asked for the number of the local police. She calmly told me that she had done the same thing a week ago, and had called AAA for help. Why didn’t I think of that? We were members of AAA. They were great. I called them and they were there within a half hour. I’m sure this guy’s previous job was car thief, because he got into that car in less than 5 minutes. I wanted to hug him.

I went back into our room, very proud that I solved the problem myself, but Herb was already asleep and just grunted.


I am not even going to attempt to give a full description of what Lake Tahoe has to offer, as we only spent one evening along its southern shore.

However, briefly, Lake Tahoe is one of the highest elevation lakes (6,255 feet high) in the U.S., as well as the second deepest (1,645 feet deep) – Crater Lake is the deepest. It is located along the border between California and Nevada. The four shores of the lake are each quite different. The north is quiet and upscale, the west and east are more rugged and less developed, and the south shore is busy and tacky with neon-lit hotels and casinos. The 72-mile drive around the lake is very scenic.

Lake Tahoe is known for its clear blue and green waters and the panorama of mountains that surround it on all sides. It is a year-round destination with swimming, boating, kayaking, and various other kinds of water sports during the summer; hiking, backpacking, and camping all year round; and tremendous skiing and snowboarding in the winter.

Lake Tahoe location map in "high definition"

Javascript is required to view this map.