When you RV like we do, you plan most details way in advance, especially RV parks and where you’ll be staying. The last thing you want to happen is to show up and have a hard time finding a place to park the rig for the night.
Lake Tahoe proved to be a bit of a challenge in this regard. Many of the parks are still closed at the time of our stay (late May) due to the weather and snow. There are at least two parks that do not allow dogs so that limited our choices.
Finally, we landed on Campground by the Lake, a City of South Lake Tahoe campground. However, the section of the park with hook ups is now being renovated for a new rec center, so staying there means boondocking (using a generator for power and running off of stored water).
Being a city campground, we weren’t expecting much. Turns out, this is probably the LARGEST RV space we’ve ever had!!! It was big enough to build a house!
And the biggest PINE CONES EVER!
As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface, I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.– Mark Twain
Lake Tahoe, in case you didn’t know, is the largest lake in the United States after the Great Lakes. But what makes this lake so breathtaking are the clear waters, you can see a white plate on the bottom of the lake 70 feet down, and the surrounding mountains on every side.
Lake Tahoe Waterfalls
While TLC may tell us not to chase waterfalls, we are looking forward to a lot of amazing waterfalls on this trip, staring with two right around Lake Tahoe. Of course, there were countless smaller falls throughout our drive around Lake Tahoe.
Cascade Falls Trail is a short 1.5ish mile trail to the top of the falls. It’s not extremely steep but there are lots of rocky areas and, when we went, still some areas where you had to climb up and over snow piles to stay on the trail. The falls were in full force after all the rain and snow from the past winter/spring seasons. Dogs are welcome!
While at Cascade Falls, you can look out over Cascade Lake just to the north of Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe beyond.
Eagle Falls is RIGHT off Route 89/Emerald Bay Rd. It’s easily accessible and provides some beautiful views. If you are adventurous, you can take the Eagle Trail up to Eagle Lake or hike down to Vikingsholm Castle where you can see Eagle Falls from the bottom.
Lora J. Knight built Vikingsholm Castle in 1929 with the desire to have a home that felt a part of the natural surroundings. While she is not Scandinavian, she loved the architecture and felt it was the perfect fit for a home on Emerald Bay.
Lora Knight was part of the gilded age. Her first husband was a controlling partner in companies such as Nabisco (National Biscuit) and the Union Railroad.
Mrs. Knight also used her vast fortune to help fund Charles Lindberg’s famous flight across the Atlantic.
If you’d like to enjoy this beautiful bit of architecture and history, you have two ways of doing so. You can hike a mile down a well maintained drive (and then hike back up, it’s quite a grade). Or you can take the cruise ship from South Lake Tahoe to Emerald Bay and avoid the hike.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen grass on a roof. Check out this post about a Scandinavian restaurant in Door County, WI with goats on the roof!
The Most Beautiful Drive in America
If you aren’t up for hiking, boating, skiing or other outdoorsy stuff, you can enjoy a 72-mile drive around Lake Tahoe.
There are many stops you can take along the way and several places where you can take in the beautiful views of the lake.
If you are up for some side trips, there are some great things to see along your drive. My one tip, check to make sure there isn’t major construction happening! Our two hour planned drive took almost four with many areas of the normally two lane road being reduced to one lane.
The Donner Memorial State Park and Museum is a short drive from the road around Lake Tahoe and worth the side trip if you’ve never heard this bit of history.
While the tail of the Donner party can be morbid, it is a true testament to our pioneer past and perseverance.
The Donner party joined many pioneers who saw their American dreams taking place in this land called California. A series of unfortunate choices lead to their party being stuck in the Sierra Nevada for over four months. Of the 87 members who went into the mountains, only 48 survived.
As members of the party died from starvation and food sources were non-existent several members of the party resorted to cannibalism, consuming those who had already passed.
It is a truly fascinating and tragic store in our American history.
And to think, Abraham Lincoln considered joining the Donner party when he was invited by his client and primary Donner party member, James Reed. However, Mary Todd would not even consider it. Just imagine how different our history would look today if he had gone west.
Lake Tahoe is a very bike friendly place. Almost all the roads require you share with the plethora of bikers who brave the narrow streets and crowds of traffic. We did take a short 4 mile bike ride from our campground into South Lake Tahoe shopping center but it was all on paved bike trails.
The RVing Details
RVing, though, isn’t all about the site seeing. I’d be remiss if I didn’t share this stop’s misadventures. It hailed! So much that the awning we had extended to keep things dry collapsed under the weight! After Jeff got sufficiently drenched getting the hail off the awning, we were able to retract it again. Fortunately, it’s designed to do that!
Miles hiked at this stop – 15.5
Animal Sightings to date – 3, add a deer on this trip.
Book & Movie Recommendations
I thought it might be fun to share the occasional book I’ve read or movie I’ve seen that may highlight something I learned or a place I visited on this stop.
My first recommendation: The Hunger by Alma Katsu is a supernatural historical fiction about the Donner Party. In this book, some members of the party believing that Tamsen Donner is a witch and the reason for all the ill-fated occurrences.