Summer starts in Tahoe |

Summer starts in Tahoe

Ladies and gentlemen start your engines.

Lake Tahoe is officially open for summer.

From horseback riding and hiking to camping and beach frolicking, Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the beginning of warm weather fun at Tahoe.

Recreation officials and business owners say this year’s holiday weekend might draw more people than usual who are seeking a respite from the heat and humidity of the valley.

Don Lane, recreation supervisor for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, said most of the 500 campsites in the basin have already been reserved. He anticipates about 10,000 campers.

Lane predicts nearly 100,000 additional people will partake in the Tahoe experience this weekend, with between 20,000 and 40,000 additional people packing the basin at one time.

“They’re going to be driving around a lot,” Lane said. “Especially around the Emerald Bay area. The waters cascading down through the canyons are predictably going to put on a show.”

Because warmer May temperatures cause melting in the lower elevations, Lane said visitors from off the hill aren’t always prepared for backcountry hiking. Those who plan to pack-in can expect extremely cold waters and night temperatures in the 30s.

“The mountains have their own time, they don’t watch the calendar,” Lane said. “Above 7,000 feet some of the highest lakes are just melting out.”

Lane said people and pets fall victim to variable stream levels this time of year. Streams may be easily crossed in the morning due to the colder temperatures, but afternoon snowpack melting can cause the water to rise, making it difficult to cross.

LTBMU Ranger Suzanne La Grandeur said mosquitoes are beginning to make an appearance in the backcountry and trails are still snow covered along Maggies Peaks, west of Emerald Bay State Park. However, La Grandeur said prints from adventurous hikers litter the paths, making the trails easily navigable.

Nature may have its own time line, but basin businesses beat to the tourist drum.

Camp Richardson’s Resort Manager Missy Springer said the campgrounds are open, new jet skis and boats are ready for rent and the Beacon Restaurant is set for entertainment action, with bands scheduled Friday through Monday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“We are expecting a big crowd,” Springer said. “All those locals who have worked their tails off this week should come out.”

Echo Chalet office manager Julie Durein said the market will open tomorrow for weekend guests who want to enjoy Desolation Wilderness or the quaint solitude of an Echo Lake water taxi ride.

“We are working ahead of where we usually are this time of year with the weather,” Durein said. “Three years ago we couldn’t open until July.”

The Visitors Center and Tallac Historic Site will also open this weekend.

With temperatures expected to be in the 70s, Visitors Center Director Mike St. Michel said the center will be fully staffed to issue wilderness permits.

The visitors center and stream profile chamber will be open all weekend, including Memorial Day.

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