Limitations on boating, camping, access to public lands and travel are unfortunate but necessary to protect public health as well as environmental health. Tahoe thrives on visitors coming up to share our Jewel of the Sierra, and we want nothing more than to welcome them back and return to normalcy. Yet until it’s safe for the entire community - residents, visitors and Lake Tahoe’s natural environment - we all have to remain patient. It will pay off in the end.
The situation with COVID-19 is constantly changing, and as a result so is the status of parks, forests, beaches, trails, marinas, boat launches and businesses in Tahoe. Whether one of these is open or not, and to what extent they’re open, is different for each location - even among the numerous National Forest sites around the Lake, for example. Keep in mind, the Governor of California recently reminded us that non-essential travel (for leisure or vacation) is still not permitted.
Know Before You Go
The most accurate information on what is open is available from the source, so we advise you to contact the business, agency, or organization directly. Since the situation is evolving so quickly, checking websites first then following up by phone to confirm is a good idea.
Here is contact and other info for the managers of some of the more popular outdoor recreation sites in Lake Tahoe.
To protect the Lake and public health in light of COVID-19, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is wisely following a phased approach to opening boating season, which we at the League to Save Lake Tahoe strongly support. This sound plan is the result of extensive collaboration and consideration by TRPA.
Phase 1, which is where we are today, permits boats with intact Lake Tahoe inspection seals to get their “Tahoe Only” stickers and get on the Lake. Intact inspection seals prove that boats are free of invasive species. In Phase 2, boats without a seal will have to pass through inspections, secure a “Tahoe In-Out” sticker and then be allowed to launch.
TRPA’s staged approach is the right one. State health orders and COVID-19 travel restrictions required the closure of boat inspection stations, which are the Lake’s strongest defense against invasive species. Weeds, fish and other invasive organisms can cloud the Lake’s clear waters, encourage toxic algae blooms, and damage Tahoe’s ecological balance. In short, invasive species turn Tahoe green. No one wants that.
After health orders are loosened, inspection stations will open, our Lake will be protected for invasive species, and things will feel closer to normal. Visit tahoeboatinspections.com for information on the status of inspection stations, marinas and launch ramps.
If you are enjoying the outdoors in Tahoe, please keep in mind that most sites are understaffed or not working at full capacity. Parking lots may be closed, and trash removal and bathrooms likely aren’t up and running, so please do your part to Keep Tahoe Blue by carpooling to avoid overwhelming limited roadside parking, packing out everything you pack in, and leaving no trace. And of course, follow all physical distancing and health and safety guidelines, including:
Maintaining six feet of separation
Avoiding crowded trail heads, parking lots and gathering in large groups
Sharing trails by being patient and stepping aside to let oncoming traffic pass
Considering wearing a mask
Staying home if you feel any coronavirus symptoms
You can Keep Tahoe Blue
If you’d like to do more, check out our Eyes on the Lake and Tahoe Blue Crew programs, and the Citizen Science Tahoe app. You can help report on the presence of invasive species, conduct a beach or trail clean-up and gather critical scientific data while you’re at it.