|Tahoe Adventure Company|
Reasons to go with a guide
In the Tahoe Adventure Company office, we get a lot of phone calls from people who want to get out on the water, but don’t want to take a guided kayaking or paddle boarding tour. Some people hold this belief so staunchly that they’ll turn down an opportunity to get on the water altogether to avoid the apparent agony of having someone lead you around. I understand it–especially after several years in a pandemic, sometimes the last thing we want is to hang out with a stranger. Yet, I heard in a podcast that often what we think we want and what we actually want are quite different. They did a study on people getting on a commuter train–some people were asked to engage in small talk with those around them, others to continue business as usual: headphones, screens, social isolation. When they asked people what group they wanted to be in, everyone said business as usual–almost nobody wanted to have to talk to fellow commuters. Surprisingly, the people who did socially engage left the train with a greater sense of satisfaction than those who self-isolated. I think it’s the same with adventure tours–we may think we just want to “putz around in a rented kayak for an hour or two” (direct quote from a guest)–but we don’t even realize what we’re missing. When we let someone else take the reins, we minimize the logistics headache, we open ourselves to learn more and connect with locals, and we maximize the opportunity to experience the awe of a well-done trip.
When you’re planning a trip, you probably spend hours looking into the coolest places to go, the least touristy spots, the secret tips and tricks for how to make the most of your time. What if, instead, you had a friend that lived in your destination who planned it for you and showed you around? You’d take their advice, right? Same thing with going with a guide. You might have less control (which for some people is a dealbreaker), but you’d probably have a more interesting, more exciting, more satisfying trip. Plus, when you book with an adventure company, all you have to do is show up in appropriate clothes and they handle literally everything else. At Tahoe Adventure Company, kayakers need not worry about transporting their gear or finding a well-fitting PFD. Bikers just have to send their height beforehand and will arrive at the trailhead with a perfectly fitting, well-tuned bike ready to be ripped on. Even our tour at Sand Harbor, an infamously difficult place to visit, cuts out all the parking hassle–just show up, we'll drive over and deal with parking for you. Best of all, adventure guides almost always have some kind of wilderness medicine certification and often have experience responding in wilderness emergencies, so you can rest assured that if the worst case scenario does play out, there is someone right there to handle it.
Still not convinced? Our guides lead the same kayak tour nearly a hundred times over the course of the summer. You are guaranteed to see more, notice more, and find cooler spots to stop when traveling with someone whose literal job is to make you happy. These guides dedicate everything they’ve got to the job–they endure long hours in the sun, significant amounts of manual labor, and inconsistent schedules so that you can have a better vacation. They give their all so you can have the best experience possible–and we can all but guarantee you’ll have a better time with them than on your own. Give it a try, and don’t forget to tip them well!
In the past few years, the idea of “self-care” has taken off and people living stressful lifestyles have begun to invest more time and money into taking care of themselves. The self-care retail industry is predicted to be valued at $13 billion by 2026, showing astronomical growth since even 2019. It makes sense—work life has become more stressful, demanding after-hours work and blurring work/life balance boundaries due to the rise in working from home. “Quiet Quitting,” when you only put in the effort detailed in your job description, is also on the rise: a staunch resistance to the corporate trend of rewarding hard workers with more work without more compensation. All this is to say that people are more stressed out than ever before, therefore more willing to invest in self-care and mental wellness.
Yet, when some think of self-care, they think of serums, face masks, pedicures, or expensive gym memberships (that they probably won’t even use). These industries are built to make money off our insecurities: fears of aging, gaining weight, and other ways we may fail to achieve beauty standards. What if we looked at self-care differently; what if we approached taking care of ourselves through less expensive, more impactful experiences instead of shady products built to make you feel bad so you’ll spend money?
At Tahoe Adventure Company, we believe in sustainable wellness, in access to the outdoors as a (if not the) key to wellness and mental health. We hope to be a jumping off point, inspiring human powered adventures for all, in the hopes that learning the ropes with us will motivate our customers to continue engaging in slow travel, natural activities, and adventure sports for their benefit.
It’s well known that exercise is essential to both mental and physical health, but exercising in nature intensifies those positive outcomes. Outdoor activity such as kayaking, biking, or hiking, is proven to improve mood, reduce stress, increase self-esteem, and create an overall sense of satisfaction and contentment—and that’s all after just one activity. When kept up consistently, exercise in nature can decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety, encourage the development of social support systems, and improve your physical health, which has its own mental health benefits.
When you’ve grown up in a city, spending time in nature can be intimidating—there are bugs, physical risks, and the threat of something going wrong when you’re far from any help. Additionally, activities like mountain biking, kayaking, and even hiking can require expensive gear and baseline skill levels that can increase the barrier between someone who is looking for a mental escape and an enriching outdoor experience. This is why Tahoe Adventure Company exists: to connect tourists, corporate companies, and even locals to the great outdoors in the Lake Tahoe region. Our guides are all medically trained, we carry first aid kits and emergency communication devices, and we outfit every single tour with the appropriate safety gear. We have detailed equipment lists so guests can know what to expect. Our guides are also trained naturalists, packed full of natural and human history and ecological knowledge they’re just dying to share with guests. We don’t just offer tours—we offer experiences.
Tahoe Adventure Company specializes in high-quality, inspirational guided tours in the Lake Tahoe basin with a focus on enjoying the natural environment. The outdoor activities we offer are kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, biking and mountain biking, hiking, snowshoeing, and backpacking, and on top of that, we run team-building events for family reunions, friend groups, bachelor/ette parties, and corporate retreats. Our tours range from 2 hours to many days, and every experience can be customized to your group’s ability level and desire to get outside your comfort zones. We can guarantee that a few hours in a kayak on Lake Tahoe will elicit these magical feelings of better mood and reduced stress, but let us plan a whole week with you and your life will be changed for the better. Even if you don’t choose to go out with us, we hope you’ll find a way to enjoy the outdoors without us; it’s truly the most important piece of the self-care puzzle and we want it to be accessible to all!
Did you schedule a trip to Lake Tahoe, only to arrive to Air Quality Indices (AQI) over 150? Currently, smoke from the Mosquito Fire has settled into the basin, making it unsafe to recreate outdoors for long periods of time. Being an adventure company, nobody laments the lack of adventure opportunities more than us, but we’ve come up with a few things you all can do to keep yourselves safe and smoke-free on your Lake Tahoe travels!
North Lake Tahoe is home to several amazing breweries that are sure to keep you entertained when being outside is less than appealing. In Truckee, there’s Alibi, FiftyFifty, Good Wolf, and Truckee Brewing Company. Along the lake, there’s Bear Belly in Kings Beach and another great Alibi location in Incline Village. These places are all great to visit on your own, but if you’re looking to make a day of it (and avoid the designated-driver-drama) you can book a brew tour with Tahoe Adventure Company! When air quality is good, you might be able to get out kayaking from Tahoe Vista in the morning for an hour or two, followed by visits to a variety of breweries with flights included in the price of the tour! We worry transportation for your group as well, just call 530-913-9212 to schedule your tour! When mother nature has plans other than mountain biking and hardcore adventuring, there’s nothing better than some brews with your buds.
Bowl Incline has been the go-to spot for Bowling in North Lake Tahoe for 55 years and has just been renovated to be even better for your rainy or smokey day activities! Complete with a bar and diner with a Hawaiian spin, Bowl Incline is sure to satiate all your competitive family or friend group desires. They also have an Arcade with basketball games, PacMan, and more. Beyond Incline, Reno and Carson City both have tons of bowling alleys that are sure to show you and your group a great time.
Rock Climbing Gyms
Travelling with kids (or adults) that have more energy than can be spent in typical indoor activities? Check out High Altitude Fitness—the state-of-the-art gym has locations in both Truckee and Incline Village, and each location features a larger-than-life climbing gym. Day passes are $23 for adults and $20 for kids 13 and under, and a day pass for adults also allows access to the gym area and any fitness or yoga classes happening that day! You can also get a week pass for only $45, which includes complimentary climbing rentals for the week. Climbing is a great way to burn off some steam, improve your balance and fitness, and hang out with friends!
While Truckee and the California side of the lake don’t offer any gambling opportunities, just hop over the state line into Nevada and casinos abound! Between Incline Village and Reno, you could gamble all day and night and try your luck at winning some money, Vegas-style. We recommend setting a budget before you walk in and committing to it so you don’t accidentally gamble away your savings, but enjoyed responsibly, gambling can be a great time! Many casinos even include free drinks when you’re on the casino floor.
Stroll Around Town
Historic Downtown Truckee is full of adorable boutiques, stunning art galleries, and historic buildings and architecture. Even if you don’t want to spend any money, perusing the various kinds of stores and galleries can be like wandering around a museum, appreciating all the local artists and artisans that work so hard to produce beautiful works that get displayed around town! Tahoe City also has a lovely main street that’s fun to wander around, and even a movie theater where you can definitely spend some quality time indoors.
Arts and Crafts
When in Tahoe, you’re meant to get your hands dirty! While you may have expected playing with river rocks, crashing mountain bikes, or hiking mountainous trails, you can also go to an arts and crafts studio to get that itch scratched. In Truckee, we have the Truckee Roundhouse, a makerspace with a wood shop, textiles studio, and even ceramics workspace. Check out if they have any short-term classes available while you’re in town! In Northstar’s village in Truckee, the Villager Candle Shop offers paint-your-own-pottery as well as soap and candle making! In Tahoe City, All Fired Up! offers a variety of crafts, including painting, pottery, candles, mosaics, and more and accepts drop-ins within business hours. For more planned-ahead groups like bachelorette parties or family reunions, Painted Rock Pottery and Mosaic offers those same activities, but they’ll bring the party to you!
If you’re interested in vintage clothes or thrifting, there are many opportunities to flex that muscle in the North Lake Tahoe area! In Truckee, Tahoe Forest Hospice Gift & Thrift is a great spot to find used outdoor gear, Unique Boutique has all kinds of vintage clothing, and Adele’s Attic is known for its luxury vintage and used designer wear. Pass it On in Tahoe City is great too for all kinds of thrifted items, and there are a handful of thrift stores in Incline Village as well. Above all, Reno is FULL of thrift stores, with several Goodwills, Salvation Army Thrifts, and other big-name stores, including a Goodwill Outlet with the famous “bins” where you pay by weight rather than item!
If you’re looking for some smaller, but very unique museums, Truckee has the Museum of Truckee History, the Truckee Railroad Museum, and Old Jail Museum which are all super interesting museums detailing the rich history of this area. There’s also UC Davis Tahoe Science Center, which teaches all about the Lake and the various scientific methods used to study it, as well as the wonderful things we’ve learned about the gorgeous lake so far.
It may feel like Tahoe is only a place to do outdoor adventures, but it’s also a place rich with commerce and history! Don’t let the smoke stop you, but if you decide to postpone your trip to another time, make sure to check out Tahoe Adventure Company and all the incredible tours we offer once the weather gets better!
For every adventure tour you book, whether it’s a Lake Tahoe tour or otherwise, there are 5 main components: the booking process, prepping for your tour, arrival and orientation, the actual tour itself, and the wrap-up process. If you do a lot of adventure tours, you know this already, but if not—here’s what to expect so you can know if your tour was meh, average, or stellar!
Most people these days will book kayaking Lake Tahoe tours online, so tour companies should have easily navigable websites with prices, tour times, and what to expect front and center. There should be a summary for folks that want to take a quick look at the details and book right away, as well as a more detailed description for those of us that like to be as prepared as possible for what we’re signing up for. Tahoe Adventure Company’s website has both—the bright orange book now button on the home page takes you directly to the booking portal where you can easily see price and duration of each tour, followed by more information (description, timing, price, difficulty, location) once you click on the tour itself. That’s without even clicking through the website! If you’re more detail-oriented, you can go to the main tour pages and even see a comparison chart to help you decide which tour is right for you.
While online bookings are the most common in this time era, many people prefer to talk through their options before making a decision. Tahoe Adventure Company’s phone line is active from 8:30-5:30pm ready to answer your questions and even complete bookings and payments over the phone! If we don’t answer, please leave a message and we will get right back to you—there are days where our phone is ringing off the hook! Remember that good customer service doesn’t just mean that we answer the questions you call with—we also make sure to answer the questions you may not have thought yet. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the options, you can even call with a vague idea, and we can help select the perfect tour for your group!
After you book your Lake Tahoe kayak tour (or tour anywhere else!), there should be clear communication on where and when to meet, what you’ll need to bring, what’s expected on the tour, and any other details that are relevant for that tour. This also applies to Lake Tahoe kayaking or paddle boarding rentals as well! Working in the office, I’m always so surprised by how many people show up at the wrong place or the wrong time for their tours—it’s the tour company’s job to make sure you have that information, but it’s your job to make sure you look at it and plan accordingly! Do your part too and remember that if you miss your tour, it’s not the tour company’s responsibility to refund you. Tahoe Adventure Company sends two confirmation emails—one when you book and one two days before the tour. This includes time, location, and duration of tour, parking, as well as what’s included and what the guest is responsible for. For the people who love detail, it’s got tons of information! For those who just want to show up and have a good time, all the important things are bolded at the top.
Arrival and Orientation
Good tour companies make it extremely clear where you’re meant to go once you arrive to the area. We have a 10 ft flag out on the street that screams “KAYAKS AND SUPS” with our sun logo bright at the top. We also have a big banner on the side of our shed that faces the road, and you’ll know you’re in the right place when you see a white pop-up tent and tons of bright yellow kayaks! When you find the tour location, you should be enthusiastically greeted by your Lake Tahoe guide, checked in, and directed on what to do while you wait for the tour to begin. With any adventure tour, there are risks, so a safety education talk is imperative. These should be short and sweet, covering the best ways to avoid emergencies and what to do if one does occur, but not going in too much depth for fear of losing the guests’ attention. Ideally, there are only about 15 minutes between the guest arrival and heading out onto the water!
The Actual Tour
The quality of an adventure tour depends entirely on what you’re looking for as a guest. Do you want someone to hang out with your group quietly, only answering questions as they come up? Do you want your guide to tell you their life story? Do you want to learn everything there is to know about the region and natural surroundings? The absolute best way to make sure your expectations are met on a tour is to communicate them with your guide—asking good questions and letting your guide know what you’re hoping to gain from the tour is essential to a good tour experience. If they don’t know what you’re expecting, how can they meet your expectations? Great guides also gauge guest ability and make sure to stop often for breaks if needed—remembering to stop long enough that even the last members of the group get to rest.
The best adventure tours leave you with something special to remember—maybe the guides took photos of the tour, maybe there’s a cool piece of merchandise they offer, maybe they send you off with a snack or drink to fuel the rest of your day. For example, after an evening kayak tour with Tahoe Adventure Company, the guides set you up with warm hot chocolate or apple cider to warm you up after you’ve been out on the water past sunset. What an incredible way to solidify the memory of your sunset or full moon tour!
Overall, what a “great tour” is depends on what you’re looking for, but at Tahoe Adventure Company, we want you to get the best experience possible, regardless of which company you book with. We have our ways and are open to feedback on how to make them even better. If you had a bad experience with an adventure tour, let us know your thoughts! We’re always improving!
Emerald Bay - South Shore
Easy | Out & back
Beginning at the Vikingsholm Parking lot and winding down a paved path to the famous Rubicon Trail, this hike showcases one of Lake Tahoe’s most famous locations: Emerald Bay. The mostly easygoing trail takes you along the shoreline of the bay, with views across the great blue lake and up the steep mountain vista behind you. This is a great bang for your buck hike—see a lot without spending too much energy.
Granite Chief - West Shore
Challenging | Out & back
Between granite slabs, abundant wildflowers, rolling creeks, and stunning alpine views, this hike truly has it all! The Granite Chief trail is accessed out of Olympic Valley, so on top of stunning mountain views, you also get to peek over at the iconic ski resort famous for hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics. Featuring several waterfalls and a lovely, rocky creek, the trail winds up Shirley Canyon, a smaller valley adjacent to the famous Olympic (formerly known as Squaw) Valley. In the summer the valley is alive with wildflowers, and if you are hiking fast, the moderately strenuous hike takes you all the way to Shirley Lake where it’s not uncommon for hikers to take a cold and refreshing swim!
Martis Peak - North Shore
Moderate | Out & back
If you’re looking for a birds-eye view of expansive Lake Tahoe without working too hard for it, Martis Peak is definitely the trail for you. This trail features unbelievable views of the lake from a partly-forested trail that travels along a ridgeline, meaning not too much elevation gain and a family-friendly hiking experience. Also, on an out-and-back hike, you can always turn around whenever you want and not miss much!
Skunk Harbor - East Shore
Moderate | Out & Back
Looking for a swim at the end of a reasonably mellow hike? Skunk Harbor snakes down from Highway 28 to a small beach right on Lake Tahoe. After a short (1.4 mile) walk in the woods, the boulder-y beach unfolds beyond the forest, beckoning hikers for a quick swim and sunbathe before trekking back up the hilly shore to the trailhead.
Spooner Lake - East Shore
Easy | 2-3 miles | Loop
This mellow stroll around the quietly stunning Spooner Lake nestled in the hills above the Lake Tahoe basin is perfect for smaller children, older folks, and nature buffs! Among the beautiful aspen forest surrounding the lake, you can find wildflowers, wildlife, and even grinding stones left behind by the Washoe Indians.
Art by the Lake Festival - August 19-21 - Tahoe City
Hosted by Pacific Fine Arts at Tahoe City Boatworks Mall, this 3-day arts festival features over 30 artisans and their stunning works. This open-air market sits right by the lake, offering beautiful views in addition to the beautiful artwork you can peruse and purchase. There will also be live music 11:30-4pm every day, and Mirada mexican restaurant from the Boatworks Mall will be selling light bites and a fresh-squeezed margaritas for the art show patrons!
Truckee Rodeo - August 26-27 - Truckee
For just $17 (adults) / $10 (children), come see a variety of rodeo events hosted by the Truckee Donner Horsemen and Truckee Pro Rodeo Team, including kid’s Mutton Bustin’. If you’re unfamiliar with the sport, this is where kids ages 4-8 (helmeted, thankfully) hop on the back of a sheep and ride it until they can’t possibly hold on anymore. The schedule hasn’t been released yet, but you can likely expect barrel racing, bull-riding, and a queen pageant as well as other rodeo-style events! As always, there will be food, beverage, and retail vendors on-site. On Saturday, there will be a dance in the arena following the rodeo, featuring music by Everyday Outlaw. Get back to your country roots and check out this year’s rodeo!
Tahoe Donner Wild West Fest - September 3 - Truckee
Just in case you didn’t get your wild west ya-yas out at the Rodeo, the following weekend (also Labor Day weekend) boasts the 3rd annual Wild West Fest at the Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center at Alder Creek Adventure Center, hosted by Tahoe Donner. There will be tons of western-style events, including equestrian performances and a barbecue dinner, not to mention live music by Worn Out Welcome. The event runs from 4:30-7:30pm and is only $15 for adults even if you aren’t a member of Tahoe Donner.
Alpen Wine Fest - September 4 - Olympic Valley
This Labor Day wine fest features an all-inclusive tasting from over 40 different wineries for just $40 when you book ahead of time! Waltz around the village at Olympic Valley sipping your favorite pinot in an included Alpen Wine Fest glass, all while supporting the Can Do MS non-profit that provides wellness services for families living with MS. Uncorked Tahoe, one of the best wine shops in the North Lake area, presents the event, which also features two different bands performing from 2-5pm.
Mexican Heritage Festival - September 16-17 - Truckee
Head over to Truckee River Regional park from noon-8pm for a free, two-day festival celebrating Mexican heritage! An event hosted by Arts for the Schools, the weekend will feature a pageant, performances by Vaqueros (cowboys), live music, authentic Mexican food, Mexican artisans and crafts, and traditional games! Come over to celebrate (or learn about) Mexican culture and support local hispanic businesses!
Palisades Oktoberfest - September 17 - Olympic Valley
Always dreamed of seeing Bavaria at its best? We can’t help you there, but Palisades Tahoe hosts the next best thing–an impressively authentic Oktoberfest experience in Olympic Valley. Complete with a variety of German beers, Bavarian live music, and a series of keg-related games (free to enter with ticket purchase!), this event is sure to not disappoint. Get your fix of lager, brats, pretzels, and lederhosen while experiencing what it’s like (sort of) to live in Bavaria!
Tahoe City Oktoberfest - September 24 - Tahoe City
Can’t get enough of Oktoberfest? Head over to Tahoe City for another Bavarian-style, lakeside Oktoberfest celebration. Costumes, microbrews, games, and crafts abound at this festival, and feature a number of family-friendly activities (like pumpkin painting!) in addition to the typical Oktoberfest adult festivities.
Downtown Truckee Wine, Walk & Shop - October 1 - Truckee
Join wine lovers and foodies alike for one of Truckee’s biggest events of the year–the 19th Annual Wine, Walk, & Shop! From 12-4pm, wander around downtown Truckee sampling fine wines and local foods for the benefit of local north Tahoe non-profit organizations. Over 19 years, they’ve raised over $40,000 for a variety of nonprofits that benefit local families. Tickets include a commemorative wine glass for tastings, plus 5 food sample tickets, for just $65 when you purchase in advance.
Made in Tahoe Festival - October 8-9 - Olympic Valley
From 11:00am-5:00pm on October 8th and 9th, head over to the Village at Palisades Tahoe, located in the famous Olympic Valley, for all kinds of Tahoe goods! Vendors offering everything from food and libations to arts and crafts line the village, giving you the perfect opportunity to learn about and experience all things local. Between live music and all the offerings of the various Tahoe-based creators, you’re sure to have a great time.
Planning the perfect beach day can be hard, but Tahoe Adventure Company makes it a little easier.
Picking the right location for a beach day is essential. When a choosing a spot, I consider views, access to activities, and parking. One spot that hits the mark on all three is the Tahoe Vista Recreation Area. Standing on the beach at the Tahoe Vista Recreation Area, you can see all the way to South Lake Tahoe and Mount Tallac. The beach also has public restrooms and a shaded picnic area, the perfect place to take break from the intense Tahoe sun. Parking is easy and hassle free. There is a large lot across the street that only charges $10 for the whole day.
The Tahoe Vista Recreation Area also has easy access to kayak and stand-up paddle board rentals. Tahoe Adventure Company is right on the beach and offers hourly as well as daily kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals. There is nothing more fun than paddling around on a kayak rental with the whole family. The easy access of the beach means you can all get on and off the water no problem. Tahoe Adventure company’s friendly staff can provide tips on where to go and how best to spend your time on your kayak rental.
Food and Drinks:
No one likes to be hungry. The final element of the perfect beach day is a great picnic. Make sure you bring plenty of water to stay hydrated under the intense Tahoe sun. I like to pack a cooler full of cold drinks and easy to eat snacks, like tangerines, carrots, hummus, cheese, and crackers. Or maybe stop by a local restaurant and grab some burritos to go. The options are endless
What are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy summer at Lake Tahoe!
Lake Tahoe is an incredible tourist destination for the adventurous–there is so much to see and do in the outdoors, and summer is arguably the best time to visit! If you just have 4 days in Lake Tahoe in the summer and want to maximize the outdoor/nature stoke, we have just the itinerary for you.
Day 1 - Kayak, Sail, Enjoy
On the first day of a summer vacation, it’s important to rest and recover from the travel so you don’t burn out before the trip has even begun! Many people travel to Tahoe from other time zones, so take the first day to sleep a little, grab a quick breakfast, then enjoy a calming and relaxing day on Lake Tahoe’s crystal blue waters. For day one, we recommend Tahoe Adventure Company’s Kayak (or Stand Up Paddle Board) and Sailing Multisport tour. Starting at 10am out of Tahoe Vista, the paddlesports portion of the tour closely parallels the Discover tour also offered by Tahoe Adventure Company. The guide is trained on teaching paddle sports and also interpreting the natural and human history of the area, so you’ll get to enjoy learning about the region while you relax in the sunshine on the glorious waters of Lake Tahoe. This portion of the tour is as strenuous as you want it to be–paddle hard to get your post-flight jitters out, or take it slow and just relax, taking in the views and the peace that comes from being on the lake. After you’re done paddling, your guide will set up a gourmet sandwich deli lunch, you’ll nosh, then you’ll all caravan down to Tahoe City to gear up for the sailing part of the tour! Tahoe Adventure Company contracts with Tahoe Sailing Charters for the afternoon tour–so you can expect all their amazing amenities, including beverages for those over 21. As you enjoy that late afternoon sunshine from the viewpoint of a gorgeous sailboat, you can take a deep breath and take in the splendor that is Lake Tahoe!
Day 2 - Hike, Bike, See the sights
Now that you’ve rested and recovered on day one, it’s time to put in some work! The best way to see all the beauty of the Lake Tahoe basin is to work hard for it–it makes the views that much more sweeter! For day 2, we offer another Tahoe Adventure Company multisport tour, but this time opting for the Hike/Bike option. In the morning, we recommend the Granite Chief trail. This moderately strenuous trail starts at the base of Olympic Valley (formerly known as Squaw Valley) and climbs up along Shirley Canyon up to the famous Granite Chief wilderness adjacent to the Palisades Tahoe ski resort (also formerly known as Squaw Valley). The hike is on the tougher side but is totally worth the work, and your trained guide can power you through it! The views from the top are absolutely stunning–you can even see the lake from there!
After another delicious deli lunch, you’ll get fitted on our top-of-the-line comfort bikes (with helmets, of course) and your guide will lead you out of the valley back towards famous CA 89–and the Truckee River Bike Path! The path runs along the Truckee River (it’s aptly named) and rolls upstream through the meandering hills, eventually landing you at Lake Tahoe in Tahoe City. This section of the river is extremely popular for tubing and rafting, so you’ll get to watch the hilarity that is the Truckee River mid-summer. The bike path also has many stopping points along the river where you can stop, rest, and even take a dip!
Once the bike tour wraps up, your guide will bid you adieu, and then you’ll be free in the Village at Olympic Valley, home of some of the best food in the Tahoe region. If you’re lucky enough to be there on a Tuesday, you can even join for “Bluesdays,” free live music between 5 and 7 in the village.
Day 3 - East Shore
Hopefully by now you’ve adjusted from the jet lag, because this morning is going to be an early one (although not as early as it could be!) If you know anything about Sand Harbor or the east shore in the summer, you know that unless you get there early, you won’t get there at all because parking is so limited. Sound like a hassle? That’s why Tahoe Adventure Company cuts out the parking headache by departing out of the Incline Village Visitor Center in a private shuttle. Instead of waiting in line to get in when the Sand Harbor State Park opens at 7am, just meet us in Incline at 8:30am and we will do the rest of the work! The actual water part of the tour lasts around 3 hours, giving you plenty of time to paddle near Bonsai Rock, Secret Cove, Chimney Beach, and the famous Thunderbird Lodge (if you’re there on a Tuesday, do the Thunderbird Lodge tour this day instead!). The east shore is super famous for its giant boulder fields, forests that spill into the water, secret beaches, and crystal clear water, and we guarantee that one of the best ways to see it is by paddling.
After your tour, the guide will drop you back off at your car in Incline Village, where we recommend stopping at Mountain High Sandwich Company or another restaurant in Incline before heading back down the east shore, stopping at the various parking lots to hike down to the many beaches you saw from the water just a few hours ago! We recommend Chimney Beach, Secret Cove, and Skunk Harbor for best hikes to beaches.
Day 4 - Mountain Bike and Sunset Kayak
After another calm and relaxing day on the water, it’s time to work hard in another stunning land adventure. Tahoe Adventure Company offers guided mountain biking tours all around the region–Tahoe City, Truckee, and more–but for today we’ll be taking the North Tahoe MTB tour out of the Tahoe City Cross Country Ski Center. A huge network of trails, most with tricky and exhilarating forest paths with stunning views of the nearby lake, this area is sure to not disappoint. Even if you’ve never mountain biked before, there are beginner trails our guides can take you on, and trust us–it’s a lot less intimidating than it seems! If it feels too scary, just think about it like a leisurely bike path through the woods–the “mountain” in mountain biking is sometimes optional. The tour lasts from 10-1 which gives you plenty of time to explore to your heart’s content.
For the afternoon, relax–have a beer at one of the many microbreweries in the area, eat some delicious food, or even take a nap on one of the many beaches before heading back to Tahoe Vista for a Sunset Kayak tour (or Full Moon if the timing is right!) The 3-hour kayaking tour begins during golden hour–watch as the sun sinks lower and shines golden light all over the water and surrounding mountains. As sunset rolls around, watch the mountains turn pink (a phenomenon known as “alpenglow”) and on a cloudier day, witness the sky lighting up the most brilliant colors you can imagine. No clouds? No problem–just be sure to notice the color gradient as you look up from the horizon towards the deeper colored sky. There’s no doubt–the sunset tour is the icing on the cake of a perfect adventure trip to Lake Tahoe.
4 Days In Tahoe
Truly, if you’re coming to Lake Tahoe, the only way to do it wrong would be to lock up in your hotel room the whole time you’re here. Even if you just sit by the water’s edge or take a drive, it’s impossible to not love every second in the area. But, if you’re looking for that once-in-a-lifetime, unforgettable experience, we’re sure this guide is the way to go. Good luck and safe travels!
When: 8am-1pm, May 14th - October 15th
Where: Truckee Regional Park
What: Mostly a farmers market, you’re sure to find a wide variety of local produce, meats, cheeses, and crafts.
When: 6-8:30pm, June 21 - August 30
Where: The Village at Palisades Tahoe
What: Outdoor blues concert series with beer, wine, spirits, and food options. Bring your own low-back chair, or get on your feet and dance!
When: 6:30pm - 8:30pm, June 22 - August 31
Where: Truckee Regional “Salty” Gebhardt Amphitheater
What: Live music with a free bike valet at a family friendly amphitheater!
When: 8am-1pm, May 12 - October 20
Where: Commons Beach
What: Thriving farmers market with a variety of goods, including fresh produce, artisan breads, meats, flowers, crafts, and more!
When: 3pm-6pm (it says 7pm in some places), May 26 - September 1
Where: Incline Village Library
What: The only afternoon market on the list, this market offers a variety of local goods!
Where: Downtown Truckee, June 23 - August 11
What: A “Summer Street Festival” with an abundance of activity–live music, tap brews, food trucks, kids activities, and local artisans and business tents. The event also features widespread public transport & free bike valet to skip the challenge of parking in Downtown Truckee!
When: 6pm-8:30pm, June 17 - September 2
Where: King’s Beach
What: Summer concert series with live music of a variety of genres, beverages, and local food vendors. Watch the sun sink low over the lake as you enjoy music on the beach!
When: 5pm-7pm, June 10 - August 26
Where: The Village at Palisades Tahoe
What: Free live music every Friday in Olympic Valley, perfect after a day hiking in the valley or tubing the Truckee River!
When: 4pm-7pm, June 12 - September 4
Where: Commons Beach
What: Free live music with both local and national musicians at Commons Beach, a lakefront park in downtown Tahoe City.
When: Shows start at 7pm, July 31 - September 4
Where: Moe’s Barbecue in Tahoe City
What: After Concert at Commons, head over to Moe’s Original Bar B Que for authentic barbecue offerings and continuation of the live music fun! Also on the water, this event is a blast.
In the Lake Tahoe basin, opportunities for adventure abound. You can take a tram up a mountain to wander around some of the highest peaks in the region. You can jet-ski in circles on the lake. You can take a 10 minute plane ride to jump out and skydive back down. These things are incredible–and it’s incredible that you can spend just a week in Tahoe and achieve so many adventurous bucket-list items. The problem is that these things take away the very challenge of adventure sports. The early rock climbers, mountain bikers, even skiers and snowboarders–they weren’t looking for ways around the climb, they were looking for the climb itself. At Tahoe Adventure Company, you won’t find a single motor–not electric, not gas, nothing more than the human-powered engines we have built-in propelling us across the lake, up the hill, down the mountain. We champion “human-powered adventures” because true adventure requires commitment, connection, challenge, and most of all: time. Sure, you’ll end the day sweatier and more sunburnt than those who opt for the easy adventure, but I’ll bet that you’ll end up happier and more satisfied, too.
Before even considering why human-powered adventures bring more value to a vacation, let’s talk about the practical matters. If you pay attention to the outdoor world, you’ll know that until very recently, it’s been exclusively for people with an abundance of time and money. Ski-doos are expensive. Electric bikes, motor boats, airplanes–it seems like the faster you go, the more you spend. Not to mention the environmental impact: all the gas motors and jets that seem to be central to so many adventure sports these days are just pumping more pollution and carbon dioxide into an already oversaturated atmosphere. In the Tahoe area, where wildfires threaten homes, outdoor playgrounds, and the very air we breathe–and where we know that human-started wildfires are more damaging than any natural fires–I can’t help but wonder how many bicycles or kayaks have contributed. A hell of a lot more fires are started by engines and vehicles than any human-powered machine. Beyond price and risk, human-powered adventures are simply easier to get started. To hike, you need shoes. To kayak, just a boat and a paddle. To bike, only a bike and a helmet. You don’t need several thousand dollar speedboats, you don’t need any certifications nor special clothes; you certainly don’t need all the expensive gear the outdoor industry tries to convince you you need. You just need to show up–meaning that anyone can start anywhere at any time.
Picture this: you and your family go jet-skiing every summer on Lake Tahoe, but this year, you opt for a kayak tour on the north shore instead. You don’t go as fast, maybe you don’t get the same thrills, but the stillness quiets you. Your kids are talking to each other, asking your guide questions about the natural history of Lake Tahoe, wondering in quiet awe how all of this got here. You peer down over the edge of the kayak to see 60ft down in the water, something you never noticed before on the jet ski. You feel the power of your body propelling your boat through the water, you’re remembering to take deep breaths, to absorb every tree and pebble you can see. The mental health impact of spending time in nature is undeniable–lower stress, better mood, and even reduced risk of psychiatric disorders. This effect is even stronger when exercising in nature–perhaps the very feeling of using your body for how it works rather than how it looks is important in today’s culture. Not to mention the relationships we build with each other–anyone who has spent an evening, without phones, around a campfire can tell you that the relationships and connections we build with each other when in nature are stronger and truer than anywhere else. Speaking of phones–lack of service, proximity to water, and the desire to conserve battery all contribute to phones being less of a Thing in human-powered adventures. Without phones to monopolize our attention, we can focus on the things that really matter.
Now, all of this might sound like a lot of extra work, but that’s the entire point. Exercising your mind and body grows brain cells, and doing challenging things on purpose builds confidence, helps you get to know yourself, and encourages agency and control in your life. The benefits are many and the drawbacks are few–spend less, connect more, and build components of a good life that truly can last. After all, no true adventurer did more work to avoid the climb–they just tackle it, step by step, and when they get to the top, they feel better for it. Don’t cheapen value with ease and convenience–be the power behind your human-powered adventure.