The big blue and beyond is how to best describe the Lake Tahoe Scenic Route in Nevada. Anything but predictable and always magical, this trip is all about majestic mountains, dreamy lakes and some fascinating little towns along the way.
Heavenly loop: The views never stop while driving along the Lake Tahoe loop. Credit: Sydney Martinez/TravelNevada
If you’re all about the scenery and the call of the open road when it comes to a road trip across Nevada, you can’t go past Mother Nature’s views and sheer beauty of a drive that loops all the way around Lake Tahoe, a large crystal blue freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
This is a magical paved drive in your Nevada motorhome rental that takes you through a 68-mile loop around Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada.
Following three highways, US 50, NV 28 and US 89, the scenic drive takes you through the towns of South Lake Tahoe, Tahoe City, Incline Village, Kings Beach and several other small towns. With great lookouts and an onslaught of eye-candy as you circuit the lake, this is definitely one to be ticked off your Nevada road trip bucket list.
You can start your journey around the lake, after leaving the highway, from either Crystal Bay, Incline Village, Spooner Summit, Zephyr Cove, Heavenly Village, South Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay, Homewood, Tahoe City or Kings Beach, which will take you right around the lake. Another option is to use Carson City as your home base, head in on highway 50 and then choose to go north towards Sand Harbor Beach or south towards Heavenly Gondola. A round trip would take less than 3 hours but with this kind of scenary you'll want to make a day or more of it.
Tantalising Tahoe: Soak up the views or dive into some activities. Credit: Susan Mowers/TravelNevada
With no shortage of things to do, stops along the way and places to see on your looping drive around Lake Tahoe, this drive is famous for being one of the most beautiful in America.
Heavenly Gondola is well worth checking and you should stop for a bite in Heavenly Village. Elsewhere, stumble upon miles of alpine beaches at Camp Richardson, and enjoy nature trails at the Taylor Creek Visitor Centre and Emerald Bay lookout.
Experience the views of Ruben Bay from the D.L Bliss State Park and make sure you put some time aside for a picnic at Sugar Pine Point State Park. History buffs can venture back in time with the native Washoe Indians at Cave Rock Vista Point and check out Squaw Valley, Kings Beach and Crystal Bay for even more fascinating views, deep bays, underwater boulders and plenty of other recreational activities.
Walk the walk: Take a hike you’ll never forget on the Tahoe Rim Hiking Trail. Credit: TravelNevada
Some travellers will tell you the view of Lake Tahoe and Diamond Peak from the Mt Rose Look out in Incline Village is unsurpassable on a global scale, a place that is also home to the Sand Harbor where you can cool off by enjoying some swimming set to a towering mountain backdrop.
For those who love hiking, the popular Tahoe Rim Hiking Trail can be reached by taking the short side trip to one of the passes along the lake.
Find our more on this comprehensive guide to the Lake Tahoe Loop.
Snow time on the Chickadeeridge back Trail: Time it right and this part of the world is a winner for snow skiing. Credit: TravelNevada
If you’re a fan of skiing, look no further than Tahoe Basin which is home to some of the finest ski resorts in the country, including Heavenly Mountain Resort, with plenty of ski areas just off the scenic drive.
If you want to make a quick stop to enjoy the sights and sounds at ease or even take a few days to work your way through everything available on the scenic drive, there are also several developed campgrounds all along the lake including the City of Tahoe Campground, Tahoe Valley Campground, Eagle Point Campground, Camp Shelly, Bayview Campground, William Kent Campground, Lake Tahoe Campsite, Nevada Beach Campground and Camp Richardson Campground among many others.