As the largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe is not only spectacular scenic because of the sheer size of this lake, but also known for its carribbean-esque hues. Whether you’re after a solid beach day, a backcountry camping experience, or learning the cultural importance of landmarks and some of Tahoe’s first inhabitants, the sky’s the limit when it comes to outdoor recreation at Lake Tahoe Nevada State Parks. Comprised of 55 acres in total, zero in on Sand Harbor State Park, Spooner Lake & Backcountry, and Cave Rock for your summer and winter getaway.
While there are dozens of public access beaches on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, Sand Harbor is the front runner, with gently sloping white sand beaches, crystal-clear water and striking granite rock formations that deliver amazing swimming, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and scuba diving.
This incredibly beautiful stretch of eastern shoreline was privately owned by George Whittell Jr., and along with the rest of the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Parks properties, was donated to the Nevada State Parks. The Sand Harbor Visitor Center and Gift shop is available for self-guided tours, with tons of informative displays that steps through Tahoe’s historic logging industry, and information about the region.
Aside from posting up on the enormous sandy beach Sand Harbor is so well known for, visitors can make arrangements to take advantage of a group area with ramada that can accommodate up to 200 people. The on-site boat launch includes two wave protected double ramps, and hiking trails can be found throughout the park as well. And if you’re into biking, be sure to hop on a long awaited section of trail that connects Incline Village to Sand Harbor. Dubbed “America’s Most Beautiful Bikeway”, the recently opened East Shore Trail is not only a spectacular recreation opportunity, but also provides non-motorized access to public beaches, coves and trails along the picturesque Nevada shoreline. In the summer months, the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival is headquartered at Sand Harbor, with Lake Tahoe as its backdrop. During the winter, keep an eye out for Borges Sleigh and Carriage Rides, too.
ADMISSION AND FEES
Admission to Sand Harbor State Park is $10.00 per vehicle, or $2.00 if you plan to bike in. Sand Harbor is absolutely gorgeous and easy to access, which means that it is also one of the most visited Nevada State Parks. During summer months, parking lots are often completely full from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., so if you can’t get here before 11, plan on taking the East Shore Express from Incline Village to the park. Sand Harbor’s boat launch is $20.00 per vehicle. Also, pets are only allowed off-season from mid-October to mid-April, and must be kept on a leash of not more than six feet in length. No overnight camping is allowed within the park. For the most up to date information on hours, special events and entry fees, please click here.
SPOONER LAKE AND BACKCOUNTRY
If you’re after camping in the Lake Tahoe area, Spooner Lake is a place to get on your radar. Almost hidden in plain sight, this amazing backcountry area is a true recreational and natural oasis, with more than 12,000 acres of forested, open space. Though not adjacent to the Tahoe Shoreline, views of Lake Tahoe can be accessed by 50 miles of hiking, equestrian and mountain biking trails. The world-famous 4.4 mile Marlette Flume Trail can be accessed from the park, along with three miles of the 165 mile Tahoe Rim Trail.
Aside from hiking and mountain biking, you definitely can’t go wrong with the amazing camping and fishing Spooner and Marlette Lake has to offer. Though the park has three primitive campgrounds at Marlette Peak, Hobart and north Canyon, Spooner also offers backcountry cabin rentals. The Spooner Lake Cabin (available April 1 thru November 15) is located just north of Spooner Lake and sleeps four comfortably. The 5 mile trail from Spooner to Marlette Lake via North Canyon Road is a popular backcountry trail, and leads to the Wildcat Cabin. Both cabins have basic amenities, like composting toilets, beds, cook stoves and wood burning stoves.
ADMISSION AND FEES
Admission to Spooner Lake & Backcountry is $10.00 per vehicle, or $2.00 if you plan to bike in. Pets are welcome, but must be kept on a leash of not more than six feet in length. For the most up to date information on hours, how to reserve cabins, info on fishing licenses, events, and entry fees, please click here.
Further south along the Lake Tahoe Nevada shoreline is Cave Rock—a great place to jump into the recreational bliss that awaits at this world-renowned lake, but also of spiritual importance to American Indian tribes in the region. The actual “Cave Rock” has had several distinct, but overlapping travel routes that went over, around and through. Today, the road punches right through Cave Rock, delivering visitors to three picnic areas and a boat launch found along the shoreline. Each picnic area is equipped with tables and barbeque pits, and this tucked away cove is also a popular spot for fishing, hiking and swimming.
ADMISSION AND FEES
Admission to Cave Rock is $10.00 per vehicle, and $20.00 to use the boat launch. Pets are welcome, but must be kept on a leash of not more than six feet in length. No overnight camping is allowed within the park. For the most up to date information on hours, events, and entry fees, please click here.