Propel your stand-up paddleboard across the dazzling, deep blue waters of Lake Tahoe to combine outdoor adventure with amazing views of the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains.
Along the shores of both the California or Nevada sides of the nearly 500-square-kilometer lake, you’ll find top stops to go stand-up paddleboarding. Don’t worry about buying or bringing gear to Lake Tahoe. An array of outfitters rent equipment and share paddling tips. These are great places to ask about guided paddleboarding tours, current water temperature and other ways to get on the water such as kayaking and canoeing.
The Beauty of the USA’s Largest Alpine Lake
Sitting at an elevation of nearly 1,900 meters, the splendor of Lake Tahoe is as breathtaking as its size. The border of California and Nevada cuts through the length of the 35-kilometer lake. From shores in either state, expect to be astounded by alpine views of snow-capped mountains, lush fir forests and the lake’s shimmering surface. There are many beaches to explore along 115 kilometers of sandy shoreline circling the lake. Between lively South Lake Tahoe and laid-back North Lake Tahoe, you can visit nearly 20 state parks and recreation areas on both sides of the lake.
View of Lake Tahoe from a beach on the east shore in Nevada
Paddle from Beautiful Beaches in Nevada
You’ll find plenty of places to paddle and enjoy the crystal-clear water, but there are a few stand-out destinations on Lake Tahoe’s eastern shore in Nevada. At Sand Harbor, which is south of Incline Village on the northeast side of the lake, you can rent paddleboards in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. Step onto the white-sand beach and admire spectacular rock formations with cedars and Jeffrey pines lining the shore. Driving south from Sand Harbor, plan to visit several beaches and paddleboard launch sites, including nearby Secret Cove. Access the secluded site with a quick hike from the Secret Harbor parking lot. This beach affords outstanding views of the water, which sometimes includes waves to paddle. South of Glenbrook, a popular place to launch is Cave Rock, also in the state park. You’ll love swimming and sunbathing here, too. Plan to play at picturesque Zephyr Cove Resort, which features lodging in cute cabins, a restaurant and bar, and a marina with watercraft rentals.
Paddling the gorgeous blue waters of Zephyr Cove
Stunning Spots to Paddle Lake Tahoe in California
At the southern tip of Lake Tahoe in California, there are even more gorgeous places to put your paddleboard to use. Just west of South Lake Tahoe, try paddleboarding at quiet Pope Beach on U.S. Forest Service land, or opt for amenities by staying at Camp Richardson, a resort, marina and beach. While you’re here, sign up for an Emerald Bay sightseeing cruise and tour the historic Vikingsholm Castle in Emerald Bay State Park. Paddle in Emerald Bay for about 15 minutes to reach Fannette Island, the only island in Lake Tahoe. Then hike up rocky terrain to the site of an abandoned stone tea house. For your last stop on the west shore, go to Rubicon Point inside D.L. Bliss State Park. Arrive early to claim your spot at this popular beach. In addition to paddling, you can swim, dive and hike a trail that leads to the Rubicon Point Lighthouse.
View of the lake from Emerald Bay State Park
Plan Your Lake Tahoe Paddleboarding Trip
To get to Lake Tahoe, catch a connecting flight to either the Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) or Lake Tahoe Airport (TVL), where you can also rent a car. You can find paddleboard rentals, lessons and tours at outfitters around the lake. In addition to paddleboarding, try kayaking, pedal boats, canoeing, waterskiing, sailing and more. Do pay attention to the local weather forecasts and ask outfitters for advice. Wetsuits and other gear might be needed for cooler temperatures at this altitude. July and August are the warmest months, with the air temperature ranging from 14 C to 24 C. The water temperature, though, often ranges 12 C to 17 C in the summer months, requiring extra protection to be comfortable.