The Ultimate Tahoe Winter Bucket List

Claire McArthur
Special to the Tribune

Tackle these activities to get the most out of your Tahoe trip

Tahoe is a year-round outdoor playground, and in the winter, there is so much more to experience than just skiing your favorite resort over and over again. This season, Tahoe Magazine is helping you expand your winter playbook with the coolest, can’t-miss activities from around the lake. Experience new modes of transportation, see the Sierra from great heights and brave Big Blue’s icy waters — you won’t regret it.

Stuck in a riding rut? Make it a goal to ski or board at all 15 of the resorts around the Tahoe-Truckee region: Palisades Tahoe, Alpine Meadows, Heavenly Mountain Resort, Northstar California Resort, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Homewood Mountain Resort, Sugar Bowl Resort, Mt. Rose, Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Donner Ski Ranch, Diamond Peak Ski Resort, Boreal Mountain California, Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort, Soda Springs Mountain Resort and Granlibakken Tahoe.

During the next full moon, strap on a pair of snowshoes, find a meadow or easy trail on the AllTrails App and trek through the powder by Mother Nature’s nightlight. If you’d rather not captain your own adventure, book a guided moonlit snowshoe tour with companies like Tahoe Snowshoe Tours or Tahoe Adventure Company.

Winter just might be the most peaceful time to get out on the lake. Without boats and jet skies flying across the water, it’s the perfect time to bundle up and launch a kayak, especially at sunset.

Winter is arguably the most peaceful time to get out for a paddle on the lake. Bundle up and don’t forget your life jacket. Photo / Claire McArthur

Speaking of sunsets, the Safari Rose, an 80-foot yacht, continues running its sunset two-hour sunset cruises to Emerald Bay during the winter. Bundle up and enjoy the scenic ride (and full bar) as you glide by Vikingsholm Castle, Eagle Falls and Fannette Island. The M.S. Dixie II, departing from Zephyr Cove, also keeps its paddlewheel in the water through winter for cruises and private charters.

The M.S. Dixie II, pictured, and the Safari Rose both continue their boat cruises during the winter. Photo / Aramark

See the lake from a new perspective with an aerial tour from Tahoe Helicopters, which offers daily flights from Lake Tahoe Airport in South Lake Tahoe. Soar above iconic landscapes dusted in snow like Emerald Bay, Fallen Leaf Lake, Desolation Wilderness and Sand Harbor while snapping pictures of views you won’t soon forget.

Ride through 45 miles of trails to heights of over 9,000 feet with a guided snowmobile tour by Zephyr Cove Resort. Glide through aspens and pines to jaw-dropping views of the lake. Choose from a standard route or create your own experience with a private group tour.

Forget a cup of strong coffee — start your day with a polar plunge in Tahoe’s frigid waters. With an average water temperature of 47 degrees Fahrenheit in December, it’s a rite of passage to take a winter dip, but please be aware that cold water shock can cause an involuntary “gasp reflex,” so ease in and do not jump into deep water.

Draw straws for a DD, then head out for a drive around the lake to visit Tahoe’s growing number of craft breweries. From Sidellis in South Lake Tahoe to The Good Wolf Brewing in Truckee, your biggest hurdle will be sticking to only one beer per brewery on your epic journey.

Enjoy access to 750 acres of backcountry terrain outside of Homewood with the resort’s Snowcat Adventures, which transports riders to the top of Ellis Peak for a day of guided riding. From tree runs to powder bowls, there’s something for everyone in the 1,824-foot vertical laps.

Mountain biking isn’t just a summer sport — with a fat tire fitted for traction in the snow, enjoy the Sierra Nevada’s winter landscape on two wheels. On the North Shore, rent a fat tire bike from Northstar California Resort, or at South Shore Bikes and Sierra Ski and Cycle Works on the other end of the lake. For a guided experience to learn the ropes, book a ride with Tahoe Jacks.



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