Visiting Lake Tahoe’s Kings Beach
Lake Tahoe is one of the most spectacular alpine lakes in the world. People travel from around the world to catch a glimpse of the lake’s pristine beauty among the Sierra Nevada mountains. The lake, straddling the borders of California and Nevada, is a popular destination all months of the year. Our family got to visit Kings Beach State Recreation Area in late December. It was a great opportunity to walk along the beach, admire the snow-capped mountains, and watch a number of animals play in the lake. Here’s our guide to visiting Lake Tahoe’s Kings Beach in winter.
Kings Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Lake Tahoe. It is a long beach, with plenty of shore for sunbathing. There is plenty of space for swimming in the lake.
Parking is available at the beach for $5/day. You need to purchase parking vouchers from the kiosks, and attendants regularly check the lot for those vouchers. It is a short walk from the parking lot to the City of Kings Beach, with its plentiful shops and restaurants. It’s definitely worth $5 to park at the state park for the day.
Our Winter’s Trip to Kings Beach
We have family in the Lake Tahoe area, so we visit regularly. Last year, we spent some time at Sand Harbor State Park on the Nevada side of the lake. This year, when I asked our kids what they wanted to do during our visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, our daughter said she wanted to go to a beach in Lake Tahoe.
I decided we would try a different beach this year, so we headed to Kings Beach State Recreation Park, on the California side of the lake.
As soon as we parked, the kids jumped out of the car and asked to head down to the beach. I paid for parking at the kiosk, and placed the receipt in our car. By the time I made it down to the beach, my son discarded his shoes ans socks and was ankle-deep in the frigid mountain lake.
Soon, the kids were skipping rocks along the surface of the water or finding lake debris along the shore to throw back into Tahoe. My son found a pine cone encased in ice and sand. You would think he had discovered a layer of permafrost. The contents soon found their way in to the lake.
We enjoyed a flock of ducks swimming in the lake. They saw the kids tossing rocks into the waters, and assuming the kids were tossing bread and other food, made their way over to us. Disappointment set in when they discovered there was no food. Yet, they still hung out around us and the other beachcombers.
We watched a dog and owner playing fetch, as the owner tossed the ball into the lake and the dog happily leaped in.
I loved watching the kids get along and enjoy each other’s company. Yes, we have our share of fighting and “friendly” sibling rivalry and competition. However, under the canopy of the fabulous scenery and God’s handiwork, the kids were bonhomies. They actually sat next to each other on the beach. I was able to capture an un-staged photo of the two of them, side by side, which I’ll treasure forever.
Heading to the Dock
After spending a great deal of time at the beach, we headed to the playground for a few minutes (our kids are a little to old for the apparatus there) and then headed to the dock.
The wood dock is a popular spot for beachcombers. Many were on the dock, looking for the perfect photo shot. Selfie sticks were everywhere. People waited in line at the end of the dock for a chance to get a shot of themselves with the lake and mountains in the background.
We, too, patiently waited our turn. Unexpectedly, we found something else at the end of the dock. Along the chain link fencing at the dock, we discovered a number of padlocks attached to the fencing. Apparently, this is a spot where many are now adding “love locks.” And what a perfect, scenic spot to forever attach a lock for your love. Had we known, I would have added my own love lock to the mix. Maybe next time.
Oh No! Open the Bathrooms!
While we enjoyed our trip to the beach, there was one downside. Since we were there in winter, we found limited restroom access. I’m sure this is due to a downsized employee pool during the winter. However, it was a frustration. Only one of four bathrooms was open. Since most of the nearby business do not allow public restroom access, we had to wait for the one open public restroom. And the wait was long. Thirty minutes long. Not pleasant when you have young ones who really have to go.
While the kids waited in the restroom queue, I walked around the building and discovered a little history of the lake. While called Lake Tahoe today, for 75 years, from 1870-1945 the lake was named Bigler, after the California Governor. It was a fun historical tidbit discovered during an interminable wait for the facilities.
The Lake in Motion
While at Kings Beach, we shot some video of the lake. Here, you can hear the sounds of the water lapping along the shore. It’s truly a breathtaking and awe-inspiring lake.
And more video of the kids playing at the beach:
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