Lake Tahoe, California audio tour: Lake Tahoe Driving Tour: From South Lake Tahoe to Tahoe City

Lake Tahoe Driving Tour: From South Lake Tahoe to Tahoe City

Driving Tour

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120 mins
|
39mi

About the Tour

Take in the stunning state parks of Emerald Bay, Eagle Lake, D.L. Bliss and Sugar Pine, scattered along Lake Tahoe’s West shore, on a driving tour. View the crystal-clear waters from roadside overlooks and hear stories about this spectacular alpine lake as we cruise from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino at Stateline, Nevada to Tahoe City.

This driving tour is one of three that takes you entirely around Lake Tahoe. On this tour we’ll explore the early community of Al Tahoe, the Tallac Historic Site, and view three early Tahoe summer homes. Our tour continues with optional hikes to Vikingsholm at Emerald Bay, Eagle Falls, and Eagle Rock. Enjoy the picturesque splendor of Lake Tahoe and its surrounding snow capped mountains as you drive, along the way hearing stories about:

• Some of Tahoe’s colorful characters
• Early Native American history in the Tahoe Basin
• Lake Tahoe’s early history
• The trees of Tahoe’s pine forest
• Historic homes dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s
• The history of gaming in Lake Tahoe

This driving tour can be completed in about two hours without any stops. On the other hand, this is your adventure. You may stop where you want, when you want, and for as long as you want. It’s up to you!

Along the way, you’ll have the option of visiting a number of state parks. Parking fees are not included in the price of this tour. For more detailed information about these stops please see “Places to stop along the way” in the tour description where I have listed April 2021 prices, as well as information about the optional hikes.

Please review the “Precautions” section for important information on driving and hiking.

Voice acting credit:

John Fremont and Smokey Bear by Brandon Baumann (https://brandonbaumann.com/)

Download a souvenir brochure of this tour at https://tinyurl.com/ygsf4ygs

A map of all of the hikes can be found at https://tinyurl.com/y444h29f

Tour Producer

avatar

Lynn Momboisse

Hi! My name is Lynn and I am a native of California and have resided in Northern California for most of my life. For many years I lived in beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea where I co-authored the book Historic Homes and Inns of Carmel-by-the-Sea. My love of history and passion for discovering the beauty of the Golden State has led me to create a fun little blog titled "Adventures of a Home Town Tourist" where I recount many of my walking tours and hiking adventures throughout the world. I currently live in the majestic Sierra Foothills and will be exploring and writing about my adventures throughout this gorgeous country. And now I'll be able to further share my travels with you through the power of the new VoiceMap tour app. I can't wait for your to join me. Happy Adventures!

Major Landmarks

  • Hard Rock Casino

  • South Lake Tahoe

  • Heavenly Village

  • Camp Richardson

  • Heller Estate

  • Pope Estate

  • Valhalla Estate

  • Eagle Lake

  • Eagle Falls

  • Emerald Bay

  • Vikingsholm Mansion

  • D. L. Bliss State Park

  • Rubicon Trail

  • Meeks Bay

  • Ed Z'berg Sugar Pine Point State Park

  • Hellman-Ehrman Mansion

  • Tahoma

  • Eagle Rock

  • Tahoe City

  • Gatekeeper's Museum

Directions to Starting Point

Front Parking Lot of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, 50 US -50 Stateline, Nevada (38°57'40.4"N 119°56'27.6"W)

The entrance to the front parking lot is off US-50 between Harvey's Lake Tahoe Parking Garage and the front door entrance to Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. There will be the signature giant guitar next to the front door of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and a few parking spaces along this side of the hotel.

From Reno, Nevada
Take I-80 East to I-580 South
Connect with US-50 West in Carson City toward South Lake Tahoe
At Stateline continue on Highway 50 through the intersection of Lake Parkway, and pass the parking structure and front entrance for Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The next driveway on the right is to a small front parking lot for Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. It will be .2 mile from Lake Parkway intersection. Park here and begin the driving tour.

From South Lake Tahoe, California
Head toward Stateline on US-50 East
Continue on US-50 cross Stateline Avenue and pass Harvey’s Lake Tahoe and Harvey’s Parking Garage. Turn left into the driveway just after the exit to Harvey’s Parking Garage. This is a small front parking lot for Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Park here and begin the driving tour.

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Tips

Places to stop along the way

All listed opening and closing times and costs are as of April 2021 and subject to change. All stops are optional. All of the parking fees are not included in this driving tour.

A map of all of the hikes may be found at https://tinyurl.com/y444h29f

If there is any snow or ice on the ground hikes can be quite hazardous. Only those prepared with the appropriate footwear, clothing and supplies should consider snow hiking.

Heavenly Village Shops /Heavenly Gondola (4080 US 50) Parking located at 1078 Heavenly Village Way behind Raley's Market. Rate is $20 per day. Or try the lot at 1 Bellamy Court behind Heavenly Village. Parking rates $1.25 per 20 minutes, $3.75 per hour – special rates after 5pm. Heavenly Gondola non-holiday pricing $64 per adult. Ridge Rider Coaster pricing $71 includes Gondola ride.

Van Sickle Bi-State Park (30 Lake Parkway, intersection of Montreal Road and Heavenly Village Way) Open to pedestrians year round sunrise to sunset. Open to vehicles May 1 to October 31 sunrise to sunset. No fee at this time for parking. (Van Sickle Waterfall hike - 2 miles out and back - moderate hike through Jeffery pine forest, spectacular view of Lake Tahoe and casinos, tranquil waterfall)

Tahoe History Museum and Book Store/ OsGood Toll House (3058 Lake Tahoe Blvd.) Open Sept to mid December, and May on Saturdays 11 am to 3 pm – Closed January – April then June through August open Thursday – Saturday 11 am to 3 pm. No cost at this time.
Camp Richardson (1900 Jameson Beach Road, South Lake Tahoe) Fee to park.

Kiva Picnic Parking Area off Heritage Way - Free to park at this time. Taylor Creek Visitor Center is open from Memorial Day through October. During heavy snow parking areas are closed. (Optional hikes: Rainbow Trail ½ mile loop – easy; Lake of the Sky Trail and Tallac Historic Site Trail 2 miles out and back features lake views and three historic homes – easy)

Inspiration Point Vista (Highway 89 before Emerald Bay State Park) Open Memorial Day through October. During winter snows parking area is closed. Free parking at this time.

Eagle Falls & Eagle Lake Trailhead (Highway 89 just before Emerald Bay State Park) $5 fee for parking. (Optional hikes: Eagle Falls Loop ¼ mile – easy; Eagle Lake Trail 2 miles out and back features granite peaks, cascading falls, forest canopy of cedar, Jeffrey and ponderosa pine, stone stairs, bridge, glassy mountain alpine lake – moderate)

Emerald Bay State Park Vikingsholm Parking Lot – Fee for parking $10 per day, when entrance station is un-staffed, fees are required by self-payment. Fees for parking are good for any California State Park visited on the same day of purchase (D. L. Bliss, Ed Z’Berg Sugar Pine Point). (Optional hike: Vikingsholm Mansion and Lower Eagle Falls 2 ½ miles out and back - moderate to strenuous hike, initial mile from the parking lot drops 400 feet in elevation, meaning your return trip is a one mile climb uphill. The trail itself is good and well maintained but with the added elevation of Tahoe itself just be mindful of your own abilities. WARNING: Visitors with medical conditions or mobility issues should not attempt this hike as there are not rides out of the property. Optional tour of Vikingsholm: From June through September guided tours are given of Vikingsholm starting at 10:30 each day. There is a price for this tour which is worth doing at least once.) https://sierrastateparks.org/emerald-bay-state-park/vikingsholm-tours/

D. L. Bliss State Park – Open 7 am to 8 pm May through October. Closed during the winter. $10 parking fee - Fees for parking are good for any California State Park visited on the same day of purchase (Emerald Bay State Park, Ed Z’Berg Sugar Pine Point) – (Optional hikes: Balancing Rock Trail ½ mile – easy; Rubicon Trail and Lighthouse Trail 2 mile out and back – moderate) To get to the Balancing Rock Trailhead continue past the Rubicon Trailhead along Lester Beach Road until you get to the stop sign. At the stop sign turn left and continue about 1/4 mile to the parking area for Balancing Rock. It will be on the left side of the road. The trailhead is at the edge of the parking area, it is a short 1/2 mile loop out to the rock and back.

Ed Zberg Sugar Pine Pt State Park- $10 parking fee - Fees for parking are good for any California State Park visited on the same day of purchase (Emerald Bay State Park, D. L. Bliss) (Optional hikes: Lakefront Trail ¼ mile features views of lake, Phipps Cabin and Hellman-Ehrman Mansion - easy)

Eagle Rock - free parking on the west side of the highway. 3/4 out and back - heavily visited summer and fall. Avoid in winter as rocks are icy and slippery. The trail gradually slopes upward through the forest along a dirt path. Then turns to climbing on rocks and logs to get to the top. Takes about 20 minutes to get to the top. The elevation is 6,286 feet and consists of an epic panoramic view of surrounding mountains, valleys, and lake.

Tahoe City Gatekeeper’s Museum Area Hike – Parking in Gatekeeper Museum Parking (130 W Lake Blvd., Tahoe City) area free at this time. Open Thursday through Sunday 11am to 5pm, $5 entrance fee. On exhibit Marion Steinbach basket of Native people of North America. From this museum you may also view Lake Tahoe Dam, Fanny Bridge and North Lake Tahoe Visitors Center.

Commons Beach, Tahoe City – Park at Commons Beach parking end of Common’s Beach Road. No fee at this time. Parking lot closed Thursdays, May through October for the Farmer’s Market. During the Farmer’s Market, park in the North Lake Tahoe Visitors Center to visit Common’s Beach.

Best time of day

Tahoe is beautiful throughout the year. However, if you have an option of when to plan your trip, the best months to visit are April through the end of September when most of the State Parks and roads are open to vehicular traffic.

The busiest time of year in Lake Tahoe is July and August as well as holiday weekends such as Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day.

If you are here during the winter months many trailheads will be closed for the season and travel may be limited due to weather conditions. During heavy snow, Highway 89 may close entirely around Emerald Bay which will cut out the middle portion of this tour. Plan ahead by checking weather and road conditions at https://roads.dot.ca.gov/ or https://northtahoebusiness.org/weather-and-road-conditions/

If you are interested in visiting any of the State Parks, the parking lots fill up as the day goes on, so an early start is always best. If taking a tour of Vikingsholm is on your to do list, plan on visiting this location when the first tour of the day is scheduled. See their web site for the most current information http://vikingsholm.com/

Precautions

ROAD CONDITIONS

During winter months, inclement weather, or fires some roads around Lake Tahoe may be closed. To check weather and road conditions please visit https://northtahoebusiness.org/weather-and-road-conditions/ or https://roads.dot.ca.gov/

If traveling during the winter, chains may be required, and some roads may be closed due to weather conditions.

Take your time as you drive around Lake Tahoe and obey the speed limit. If cars are pilling up behind you, use the nearest pullout to allow them to pass.

To prevent possible car break-ins, whenever you park and leave your car, make sure to cover your valuables, lock your car and take your keys.

HIKING TAHOE

The high elevations around Lake Tahoe can make hiking more of a challenge if you are not used to it. The air is thinner here, meaning you will take in less oxygen with each breath, and you may find yourself out of breath after a short distance. If you have any concerns about the length or difficulty of a hike, I hope the descriptions in the “Places to Stop Along the Way” section will be of help.

Do not hike on snow or ice covered trails unless you are prepared with the appropriate clothing, supplies, and footwear. I use the Kahtoola EXOspike traction system which slips over my hiking shoes.

Some of the trails in Tahoe have been affected by fire or weather. Rangers work hard to get trails cleared, but it seems that it is a never-ending battle to have them all up and running at the same time. For that reason, I cannot promise that every hike listed on this driving tour will be open at the time you visit.

Always stay on the trails.

Except during the winter, I highly suggest you carry and use insect repellent. I always wear long pants when I hike; tuck the hem of my pant leg into my socks and spray insect repellent around the tops of my hiking boots. This discourages any ticks or insects from tagging along for the ride.

Avoid touching poison oak. Tecnu is also handy to have if you do happen to unexpectedly touch poison oak. Both Tecnu and a good insect repellent may be purchased over the counter at CVS or Safeway.

WILDLIFE

Don’t feed any wildlife or attempt to touch any critters. Though the most common wildlife sightings you will have on this tour will be deer, chipmunks, or ground squirrels, remember this is bear territory! And black bears are common. If you come across a bear, never approach them! Do not run, make yourself appear to be as large as possible, and back away slowly.

USING VOICEMAP

Search for VoiceMap Audio Tour on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Download the free App. Sign Up for a new account with your email and a password of your choice, go to the Explore option/Monterey Peninsula, Santa Cruz, Sacramento, and Lake Tahoe and purchase the tour you are interested in. Download the tour while you have good WiFi coverage. Click on the gear icon on the lower right corner and put the tour into yd/mi mode and turn off Tour Player Autolock and Audio Lost Alert. Then, select the Account option, select the tour you are going to take and read the information in the About option in the upper right. If you need directions to the starting point select Directions. It will open up another window in Apple Maps. You will need to close that window or use your phones interface to go back to the VoiceMap app to start the tour.

Go to your starting point, press start and follow the instructions of the narrator. Place your phone in a hands free holder on your car dashboard as there is a map on your screen that will show our travel route.

We also suggest that you have your phone plugged into an external charging port so that your tour isn’t interrupted by a dead battery.

You may pause this tour at any time using the pause button and resume it at any of the locations along the tour. If you decide stop along the way and take a meal break, or take one of the optional hikes, you should exit your tour by pressing the End Tour downward facing arrow on the top right, then just restart it from the closest location by restarting the tour using the Resume button. It will start at the closest stop.

If you are listening to this tour from home you may just press "Continuous Play" and the tour will play for you to listen to.

PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES

This tour is a photographer paradise. Using the Video setting on your phone will shut down the VoiceMap app (and every other open app) and you will need to reload your tour. So, if you are using your phone for photos, try to use the Photo setting.

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Lake Tahoe Driving Tour: From South Lake Tahoe to Tahoe City