Ultimate Lake Tahoe Winter Guide: 12 Exhilarating Winter Activities in Lake Tahoe
Updated: Jun 25
Lake Tahoe is an outdoor enthusiast's dream, especially in the winter. Lake Tahoe is known for its world-class ski resorts, but there is much more to do in the winter besides hitting the slopes. In this post, I'm sharing 12 exhilarating winter activities to experience in Lake Tahoe!
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SNOWSHOEING AT CHICKADEE RIDGE
One of my favorite spots to snowshoe in Lake Tahoe is Chickadee Ridge. The easygoing snowshoe trek starts at Tahoe Meadows, just north of Incline Village. It doesn't take long to reach the ridge, which has gorgeous views of Lake Tahoe. The trail to Chickadee Ridge features tons of pine trees, which look magical when covered in snow.
The area is also known for the friendly Chickadee Birds that live there. There have been many times that I skipped the hike to the ridge and made a day of visiting the chickadee birds.
SNOW TUBING ON FREE HILLS
There are quite a few places around Lake Tahoe where you can pay a pricey admission fee to snow tube down groomed tubing lanes. However, I prefer the free hills, which are just as if not more fun! Plus, there are no lines.
Several areas where you can find free snow tubing hills: Spooner Junction (where HWY 50 meets Route 28), Tahoe Meadows along Mt Rose HWY, and Fallen Leaf Lake Road.
ICE SKATING AT HEAVENLY VILLAGE
Ice skating at Heavenly Village in South Lake Tahoe is a lovely winter alternative if you're not into skiing. The small festive rink is within walking distance of shops, bars, and restaurants. Once you've had your fill on the ice, you can grab a bite or sip on hot chocolate at one of the firepits that overlook the rink.
SCENIC TRAM RIDE AT PALISADES TAHOE
One of the best places to take an aerial scenic tram ride is Palisades Tahoe. The 10-minute ride takes you 8,200 feet above sea level and features spectacular views of the mountains and Lake Tahoe in the distance. Once you reach the top, you can walk out onto the panoramic sundeck, snap a few pictures, and grab a drink at the Alpine Bar.
SNOWSHOEING AT DONNER MEMORIAL STATE PARK
I recently went snowshoeing at Donner Memorial State Park for the first time, and it was such an incredible experience that I had to add it to the list! The easily accessible and flat 3-mile trail loops through the entire park and is picturesque the whole way. We went the day after a big snowstorm, which created some pretty magical winter wonderland conditions.
Along the hike are numerous mini trails that veer off the main loop and lead to Donner Lake. We chose to snowshoe, but the groomed trail is also a fantastic spot for XC skiing.
The charming town of Truckee is about a 20-minute drive from north Lake Tahoe. One of the best things to do while visiting Truckee is to drive up Donner Pass to Donner Summit.
The views of Donner Lake and Truckee are spectacular from this spot, especially when covered in snow. Once you've taken in the panoramic views, you can head back down the pass and grab a bite in downtown Truckee.
EMERALD BAY STATE PARK
Emerald Bay State Park is one of the most touristy locations in Lake Tahoe, but it's also one of the most beautiful. I've visited countless times, during every season, and one of my favorite times to explore Emerald Bay is winter. The snow adds a little something extra to an already picture-perfect scene. I highly recommend hiking (or snowshoeing) down the Vikingsholm Trail to the bottom of Emerald Bay. Once at the base, there's much to explore, including Lower Eagle Falls, the Emerald Bay Pier, and the Vikingsholm Castle.
Craft breweries are certainly a thing in Lake Tahoe. One of the best things to do after a day spent on the slopes is to grab beers and local fare at one of the many bars and breweries. Most bars around Tahoe have an outdoor seating area fitted with firepits and heating lamps, making for a cozy experience. Here are a few brewery recommendations:
South Lake Tahoe:
South of North Brewing Co
North Lake Tahoe & Truckee:
Alibi Ale Works
Bridgetender Tavern & Grill
Bear Belly Brewing Co
SUNSET HIKE TO MONKEY ROCK
Lake Tahoe is known for producing brilliant sunsets. One of the most enjoyable ways to watch the sunset is on a hike that ends with a beautiful view. One of my favorite sunset hikes in Lake Tahoe is Monkey Rock. The trail to Monkey Rock is 2.6 miles out and back and features sweeping views of North Lake Tahoe and Incline Village. The trailhead to Monkey Rock starts behind Tunnel Creek Cafe in Incline Village.
SCENIC GONDOLA RIDE AT HEAVENLY
If you don't ski or snowboard but still want to enjoy those heavenly views, a Scenic Gondola Ride is a great way to do it. Full disclosure: At $96 for adults, I think the price is steep, but it's worth doing at least once. The 2.4-mile ride departs from Heavenly Village. Once at the top, hop off and take in the jaw-dropping views from the wrap-around observation deck.
SNOWMOBILING THROUGH BACKCOUNTRY
Snowmobiling in Lake Tahoe is an exciting way to enjoy the snowy scenery. Whether you are interested in exploring Lake Tahoe's backcountry or riding up to stunning winter views of the lake, there are several snowmobiling tour operators in the Lake Tahoe area.
Here are a few recommendations:
SKIING (OR SNOWBOARDING) AT ONE OF
TAHOE'S MOUNTAIN RESORTS
I know, this one doesn't have to be said, but this year was my first time skiing in Lake Tahoe (even though I lived here for four years 🤣) so I wanted to include the activity (and state the obvious). I have only skied at Heavenly so far, but hoping to get a few more mountains under my belt.
The top-rated ski resorts in Lake Tahoe:
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