Lake Tahoe is 24 miles long, 12 miles wide, and has 72 miles of shoreline. At 1,645 feet deep at its deepest spot, it is the second deepest U.S. lake, the third deepest lake in North America, and in the top 20 deepest lakes worldwide (somewhere between 8 & 16 depending on which source you believe).
All I know is that I've seen gorgeous pictures of the water, and I wanted to experience that firsthand.
After partaking of the free continental breakfast at our hotel, we hopped in the Jeep and drove a couple miles to Sand Harbor State Park. We arrived around 10:00 before it got too crowded.
We just happened to bring our Sea Eagle SE330 with us, so we found a parking space near the sandy beach, inflated the boat and carried it out to the beach where a few people had started to gather.
I wasn't sure if we were really allowed to launch from the beach, but it turned out to be okay since the boat is an inflatable.
We didn't get very far before I started snapping pictures of the clear water.
The water in Lake Tahoe is so clear, you can see down 65 - 75 feet according to the clarity reports.
It was a beautiful morning as we paddled away from the sandy beach along the East Shore. Soon we were passing over and around large granite boulders.
The water color was spectacular.
Not too far from the beach where we started, maybe a mile or so, we found our own little rocky cove that was somewhat sheltered from the waves from the big boats on the lake.
We hung out there quite awhile as I climbed over the rocks taking pictures.
It reminded me of some of the rocky beaches of Bermuda.
We waded in the cold water and dangled our feet from the rocks. At one point I dove in. Yowza!! That certainly made me feel alive. :)
While I was in the water, I used the boat to float the camera out to another set of rocks to get some shots from a different angle.
After enjoying that spot for an hour or so, we left it to a couple that had scrambled down the steep bank from the roadway above.
We started back toward the beach.
Now, I'm not one to condone the defacing of the rocks, but I had to admit this was pretty funny. We'll call this, for obvious reasons "Bikini Bottom Rock". :)
Linda wanted this shot of the gull on the rock.
The sailboat, actually a catamaran, was a bonus. :)
I like the pull-back shot.
It really did look like the ocean out there. I kept expecting to see tropical fish and dolphins any time. :)
We paddled back to the beach which was full of people by then.
But we weren't nearly ready to get off the water. We paddled by the beach and around the rocky point of the state park. On the other side were two more beaches among the rocks and people jammed on them like sardines.
Of course there were youngsters jumping off some of the bigger boulders.
It's easy to see why Sand Harbor is so popular. It's beautiful with both sandy beaches and rocky beaches. Not to mention the cool, clear water at a time when several places out west are suffering through 100-degree heat.
Eventually, we turned around and paddled back toward our launching point. The gulls near the main part of the park seemed to be used to paddlers getting close.
When we got back to the buoys marking the outer edge of the swimming beach, we still weren't ready to get off the water. So we just floated out there enjoying the sun and watching the people.
Eventually, the waves pushed us toward shore and some clouds started to move in. As much as we hated to beach the boat, we got it out of the water, deflated it, and packed it away in its bag.
We changed clothes and took the short trail around the park.
The trail has a lot of interpretive signs about Lake Tahoe as well as some pretty nice views. Though it was cloudy at the moment, I got another shot of the big, sandy beach.
It has to be one of the most beautiful freshwater beaches in the world.
We continued our walk and I continued taking pictures.
The clouds weren't deterring any of the visitors.
One last shot that includes a spectrum of colors.
Well, that concluded our day on the water in and around Sand Harbor State Park. For all of the photos, you can click on the Sand Harbor State Park Slideshow.
We were in the Jeep and headed back to Chester when the rain started. But first we stopped off at a little ice cream shop in Incline Village - Susie Scoops. We had a coupon from one of the visitor guides for a free sundae. :)
After that, we made our way back along the north shore of Lake Tahoe and merged back onto Hwy 89 north in Tahoe City. We followed the Truckee River, the only outflow from Lake Tahoe, about five miles to the River Ranch Lodge.
We remembered seeing it on our way to Tahoe, and I wanted to stop for a late lunch/early dinner. They have a patio on the Truckee River where several of the area rafting companies have their "takeouts". We managed to get a riverside table and watched the hundreds of rafters.
The patio crowd would cheer whenever someone fell out of the boat on the last little rapid coming into the eddy at the takeout. :)
After we ate our grilled sandwiches, I took one last picture and we were on our way.
We arrived home safe and sound around 7:30.
We sure packed a lot into a day and a half at Lake Tahoe, and we had a great time. Tahoe is a bit crowded in the summer, but it's easy to see why.
There are commercial parts of it and lots of natural parts as well. The commercialism wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.
They cater to every possible outdoor interest for every type of visitor. The prices weren't as high as I was expecting for the different tours and activities, but you could rack up a lot of expenses if you tried to do a lot of them.
Even with the crowds, we enjoyed our time. In the future, if we return to the area, we'd probably find a campground, stay a few more days, and do more hiking and paddling.
There is no question that parts of Tahoe are absolutely stunning as we discovered today. :)