Sand Harbor boat ramp opens; Lake Tahoe water levels keep rising
May 16, 2016
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — After the best winter in years, Lake Tahoe is slowly refilling.
In fact, Nevada State Parks officials say there's already enough water to reopen the Sand Harbor State Park boat ramp — at least for small boats.
Tahoe parks supervisor Jay Howard said for now, the ramp is only open to boats less than 14 feet long.
"The park is pleased to be able to launch smaller boats for now and we expect that the lake will continue to rise to accommodate larger boats soon," he said.
In 2015, the boat launch never opened due to diminishing water levels aided by the Western drought and a fourth-straight mild winter season for the Truckee-Tahoe region.
This year, the ramp is open Monday through Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Thursday through Sunday 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. The park charges $20 per boat to launch.
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In early April, Lake Tahoe's water level hit its natural rim of 6,223 feet, the first time since June 2015, thanks to a winter season that saw more than 500 inches of snow in upper-elevation areas in the Sierra Nevada.
As of Monday morning, the lake's water level had risen to 6,223.70 feet, and figures to increase as the Sierra snowpack begins to melt.
Howard said boaters are required to have powered watercraft inspected or sealed prior to arriving at the ramp as part of the effort to prevent invasive species from getting into the lake.
Inspection stations and more information can be found at tahoeboatinspections.com.
Meanwhile, the boat launch at Cave Rock on Lake Tahoe's east shore is open without restrictions.
"Please use caution while launching at Cave Rock, not only due to the low water launching conditions, but for the expected high levels of congestion until further notice," according to Nevada State Parks.
Safety is of utmost importance, whether boating on or recreating in Lake Tahoe.
"Nevada State Parks urges visitors to enjoy a safe boating season by observing water safety practices," said state parks spokeswoman Jenny Ramella. "Always wear a life jacket, be aware that high altitudes may cause you to tire more quickly, and remember that cold water will take your breath away. When swimming, be sure to enter water slowly to allow your body time to acclimate to cold temperatures."
Visit parks.nv.gov/parks/sand-harbor to learn more about Sand Harbor State Park.