• Gabriella Viola

10 Awesome Winter Activities in Lake Tahoe (Besides Skiing!)

Updated: Dec 23, 2020



Lake Tahoe in the winter is not just for skiers! Take it from me, I live in Lake Tahoe, and I haven't skied since I was eight! There are plenty of fun activities to do in Lake Tahoe during the winter months, and in this post, I'll be sharing some of the best ones!


Here are ten awesome things to do in Lake Tahoe in the winter besides skiing!


Just a reminder: Please enjoy Lake Tahoe responsibly and keep it beautiful.

Always practice the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.

❄ Paddle Boarding ❄


Paddle-boarders at Sand Harbor on a winter day

It might sound surprising, but winter is one of the most ideal and picturesque times for paddle-boarding in Lake Tahoe. The lake is often glass-like due to a lack of people and boats on the lake (weather permitting, of course). Winter days on the water can feel warm, with temperatures sometimes reaching the 50s, but the water itself is icy cold, so use caution.

❄ Chickadee Ridge ❄

Tahoe's friendly chickadees

Located off Mt Rose HWY, you don't have to hike very far into the trail for the friendly chickadees to fly right up to you! Of course, it helps if you have breadcrumbs or sunflower seeds. Chickadee ridge is a popular spot for snowshoeing and offers remarkable views over Lake Tahoe if you hike to the actual ridge.

❄ Monkey Rock ❄

Views from Monkey Rock after a snowstorm
Views facing south from Monkey Rock

The views from Monkey Rock are stunning any time of year, but a little bit of snow just adds something extra. Monkey Rock is one of my favorite hikes in Tahoe, and I've mentioned it quite a few times in my blog. Read more about Monkey Rock here.

❄ Snow Tubing ❄


Snow tubing at Fallen Leaf in Lake Tahoe

As I am writing this post, some of the professionally run snow tubing companies are closed down due to COVID. However, even pre-covid, I wouldn't recommend sledding/tubing at these places. Why? Because who wants to pay $$$ to go snow tubing when there are tons of FREE hills around Tahoe?! A few free spots to go snow tubing in Lake Tahoe are Spooner Junction, across from Emerald Bay, Fallen Leaf Road, and right off of Mt Rose HWY near Chickadee Ridge.

❄ Emerald Bay ❄


Winter sunrise at Emerald Bay

Emerald Bay turns into a winter wonderland right after it snows and, it's one of my favorite spots to drive up to right after it snows (as long as the roads are clear 😝 ). As mentioned in the section above, there is a snow sledding hill right across from Inspiration Point at Emerald Bay. Click here for more on Emerald Bay.

❄ Ice Skating ❄


There are several options for ice skating in Lake Tahoe, depending on which side of the lake you are on. Here are a few:

  • Heavenly Village Ice Rink

  • Northstar Ice Rink

  • Tahoe City's Winter Sports Park

  • Squaw Valley Resort

  • Olympic Ice Pavilion

If the conditions are right (very cold and no snow) and you're a bit more daring, there are a few small lakes around Tahoe that freeze over and are ideal for ice-skating, such as Red Lake and Caples Lake. It goes without saying, use extreme caution when ice skating on a frozen lake.

❄ Sand Harbor ❄



Sand Harbor is one of the busiest beaches in Lake Tahoe in the summer, but during the winter months, the crowds are gone and you'll pretty much have this beautiful spot all to yourself. Sand Harbor is incredibly picturesque in the winter, so if your a photographer, this is a great time to check out this spot 📸 .

❅ Heavenly Village ❅


Heavenly Village in South Lake Tahoe is home to shops, bars, restaurants, art galleries, an ice skating rink, and the Heavenly Mountain Gondola. During the holidays, Heavenly village has several holiday celebrations* including the annual Christmas tree lighting, fireworks, live music, and special performances. Check out their website for more details.


*Many events have been canceled for 2020 due to the current health and safety guidelines.

❄ Cave Rock ❄

Wintery views from the top of Cave Rock


Located off HWY 50 in South Lake Tahoe, Cave Rock is a short hike with stunning 180 degree views overlooking Lake Tahoe. The trail takes about 10-15 minutes and includes some light bouldering to reach the highest viewpoint. If you're in South Lake Tahoe, definitely add this spot to your list. For more on Cave Rock click here.

Hidden Beach


Warm enough for bathing suit on a winter day!

Just north of Sand Harbor of Route 28 is Hidden Beach. Framed by snow-capped mountains, Hidden Beach has a unique rocky shoreline and beautiful turquoise water. It also happens to be one of my favorite beaches on the east shore.

Bonus: Hot Springs Day Trip

Buckeye Hot Spring off the 395

I wanted to throw in one bonus activity, and a great one would be taking a hot springs day trip! The Eastern Sierra is geothermically active and home to a plethora of hot springs. Bridgeport and Mammoth Lakes, both located off HWY 395, are two areas known for their hot springs. A few include Travertine, Hilltop, and Wild Willy's Hot Springs. Click here for more information about the hot springs in the Eastern Sierra region.

Here's a few more ideas!:

- Snowmobiling

- Snowshoeing

- Brewery hopping

- Gondola ride

- Shopping

There you have it! Ten awesome things to do in Lake Tahoe in the winter. I hope you enjoyed this list! Let me know what some of your favorite winter activities are in Lake Tahoe in the comments!

Check out the video version here:


Please enjoy Lake Tahoe responsibly.

Always practice the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.


You might also enjoy:


Living in Lake Tahoe: Pros and Cons


A Guide to the Most Stunning Photo Locations in Lake Tahoe


6 Easy Hikes with Killer Views of Lake Tahoe



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ABOUT

Gabriella Viola is a photographer and outdoor enthusiast currently living in Lake Tahoe, California. 

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