A Winter Trip to Lake Tahoe’s Sand Harbor
Spanning two states, Lake Tahoe is a photographer and nature lover’s dream landscape. The mountain lake is world-renown for its clarity and beauty. The surrounding snow-capped mountains attract snow skiers and snow boarders from around the world. Drives around the Lake offer stunning vista landscapes just waiting to be framed in a photograph. And the Lake itself feeds your soul.
I grew up in the Tahoe area and spent many summers getting sunburned on its high-altitude beaches, swimming in its frigid waters, and catching crawdads (that’s what locals called the crayfish) near its shoreline. Recently, I took my kids to the area to visit their grandparents, and knew that we needed to take a trip to Lake Tahoe.
A Drive Around Lake Tahoe
Tahoe spans California and Nevada. During our drive, we spent all of our time on the Nevada side of the Lake. However, there are great beaches on both sides of the lake and great skiing and sledding too. Small alpine towns line the lake offering entertainment, great food, and casino gambling.
We toured Tahoe in January, a slow time of year for beach tourists. We drove to Sand Harbor, a Nevada State Park, and a regular hangout during my childhood years. The park has a long beach set in an alcove with great views of most of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Sand Harbor State Park
Sand Harbor is a Nevada State Park site. The beach has a large parking lot, visitor’s center, and restrooms near the beach. In winter, you can find horse-drawn sleigh rides (although there was no snow at lake level when we visited, so the sleigh rides were not operating). During the summer, Sand Harbor is home to the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. You can see the natural sand amphitheater and stage from the beach.
The kids headed straight for the beach, tramping through the golden sand to the shore. I warned them not to get their shoes in the water because the always cold water temperature is especially frigid in winter.
We inspected the translucent waters from which we could see a great distance. Efforts to “Keep Tahoe Blue” by conservationists throughout the decades have allowed Tahoe to remain one of the clearest lakes in the world. The conservation efforts also result in mostly litter-free beaches.
My kids soon found driftwood, pine cones, and rocks to through into the waters. They waited endlessly for the waves and tide to bring the cones and driftwood back to shore.
Next to the beach is a boardwalk that wraps around the beach to the north side of Sand Harbor. After spending some time at the beach, we traversed the boardwalk to see some stunning views of the California peaks to the west and play among the boulders near the boat dock.
Our son, who is interested in Parkour, leaped and danced among the boulders as if it were an endurance training course. However, our daughter more carefully moved from boulder to boulder taking pictures and admiring the tranquility of the winter landscape and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.
We enjoyed our time at Sand Harbor. The off-season was perfect because we met with few other beach visitors, allowing the kids to have Tahoe to themselves. The beach is quite busy during the summer months, but January was a perfect time to enjoy all that Sand Harbor had to offer in an unhurried fashion. Find out more about Sand Harbor here.
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36 thoughts on “A Winter Trip to Lake Tahoe’s Sand Harbor”
It’s an amazing experience to travel with your family 🙂 Lake Tahoe sounds like an amazing place to spend some peaceful time.
Thank you. It is a tranquil place.
Wow! great landscapes you got there. I’ve never been to Lake Tahoe. The place looks serene and relaxing.
It does get busier during the summer, but even then it is still serene.
Your photos are so beautiful! I have always wanted to visit Lake Tahoe, and you just made my wanderlust a bit stronger…
Sorry, I guess. You need to plan a trip.
I did not get to visit Lake Tahoe last time I was in the area, but it is definitely on my list for the next time I’m around, definitely!
We’re fortunate to have visited many times.
Such a beautiful blog post! The nature there must be amazing – I really would love visiting this place one day.
Thanks for sharing this with us – have a nice day and safe travels
Thank you. It is a beautiful spot to appreciate nature.
I love the backdrop of mountain around the lake. I am a big fan of visiting big lakes like this and I will be adding this to my list when I visit the USA (Want to do a huge trip) Lakes like this can really just bring out so much peacefulness in yourself, and I can imagine your SD card was full of amazing pics, not just the gorgeous ones you shared in this post.
It was difficult choosing pictures for the post. There were too many great shots from which to choose.
beautiful photos of Tahoe! I’ve never been to this park but I’ve spent quite a bit of time around the South Shore and skiing at Sierra at Tahoe… this is truly one of the gems of California. I’m also pleasantly surprised that Tahoe is one of the cleanest lakes, I never knew that!
We’ve spent a lot of time at South Shore too. North is a little less busy with a lot less vehicle traffic. But you cannot go wrong anywhere in Tahoe.
This is one of the best places to go as a family! I went once with my family in the summer and it was one of the most beautiful places in the world to this day. I think it’s honestly the best photo spot in the US besides maybe, Montana. Dying to go back!
I know Emerald Bay is one of the most photographed spots. There doesn’t seem to be a bad place to take pictures in Tahoe.
Exploring such a wonderful landscape must have been so exciting for the kids: the lake, the woods, the bizarre tree roots – amazing. It seems to be serene and exciting at the same time – I particularly like the view across the lake at the mountains with the snow on top.
The kids could have stayed for hours.
Those pictures are incredible! I have never visited Lake Tahoe, but I love the idea of visiting in the winter!
I love the snow-capped mountains in the winter. And smaller crowds on the beaches is a nice benefit.
That looks like a feast for the eyes and the soul. It seems that it would be very tranquil there too, and you could immerse yourself in the beauty of that landscape without distraction. Exactly my sort of place!
You do feel like you have the world to yourself. And it’s so peaceful.
A winter trip to Lake Tahoe Sand Harbor looks so naturally beautiful. I would love to go here and I am definitely adding this to my list for when I visit my bestfriend in California. You are right I have only really heard about the skiing there but nothing to much about summer. The colour of that water and wow!!
This is beautiful . I have never been to that part of the world. Cant agree enough with the idea of litter free beach.Lets hopeits stays blue for ever!
Agencies are working hard to preserve the natural beauty of the lake.
You know, the more time we spend our West, the more in love we fall with how absolutely stunning it is. Tahoe is definitely on our list, so this is super travel goals for us. Saving for later!!
Happy traveling. The West has a lot to offer.
Oooo, another state park to add to my list! What a beautiful part of the world. Your photos are just stunning, thanks for sharing 🙂
I’ve only visited Tahoe once and it was GORGEOUS! We spent the majority of the time on the snow; I don’t know if I could brave the beach there in the wintertime! Nonetheless, your photos show how beautiful and diverse the landscapes are. Lucky you for having grown up in the area!
Yes, I was fortunate to grow up in the area. Of course, we don’t really appreciate what we have locally until we move away.
Such a great adventure you guys had, I love the photos!! So beautiful, I have never been but will add it to the list of places! Thank you for sharing.
Thank you. It’s a amazing place to visit.
It is a wonderful place. I am a big admirer of nature’s beauty. Love big lakes and mountains. Such a pleasant feeling and the best place for kids. Kids should be regularly taken to such places, engage them with mother nature. It is a great therapy.
It is great therapy for adults, too.
Oh wow!! I love to go to Lake Tahoe with my family. I am in love with the pictures. Wish I could jump into the picture and reach there. Looks like you had a lot of fun and adventure there 🙂