This past Monday we crammed 3 explorations of Northwest Nevada into one day. This post will cover Lake Tahoe... and I'll follow it with separate posts for the other two -- the Nevada State Capitol and Virginia City.
An early start (for us) got us out the door and heading down US-50 toward Carson City and the Lake Tahoe area before 9am. The weather was typical for this part of Nevada during late fall... sunny and cool.
Neither of us had ever seen Lake Tahoe before so, being this close, we had to take the time to see it. From Carson City, the Lake is only about 10 miles away... but the climb to the rim adds about 2,500 feet of elevation.
Lake Tahoe is 22 miles long, 12 miles wide, and 1600 feet deep (the second deepest lake in the U.S. after Crater Lake). It's a bowl surrounded by mountains, straddling the border of Nevada and California high in the Sierra Nevada Range. The surface of the lake is 6200 feet above sea level, and it's the largest alpine lake in North America.
The drive up the hill from Carson City on US-50 is an excellent 4 lane road that, once it reaches the lake, bends south on a rim high above the western shoreline. There are pull-offs where we spent some time soaking in the view at our own pace, and trying to capture what we were seeing in pictures. And what a view it is! I can see why people gravitate here. In the summer, due to it's elevation and the tree lined slopes, it's cooler than the surrounding lower elevations and vacationers flock here in droves. In winter, again, due to it's elevation, snow accumulates... and when you combine slopes with snow... you get ski resorts, and more droves of people. But summer or winter, the scenery is alway spectacular.
As we drove toward the town of South Lake Tahoe, on the south end of the lake, we rounded a bend and there, before us, were high-rise hotels and casinos. For me, I wasn't expecting that and it was a little shocking. I guess I've heard that there are casino-hotels up here, but I just wasn't thinking about them before they suddenly came into view. The natural beauty of the area seems somehow adulterated by the looming glass high-rise towers... seem out of harmony with the natural order of things... in my humble opinion.
If we had more time, we could have circumnavigated the lake -- a drive of about 70 miles, and investigated the numerous State Parks along the way. But that would have taken the rest of the day and will have to wait until next time.
Reversing course, we made it back to Carson City in time for lunch, which we found at a cafe inside the old Carson Brewing Company building just a few blocks from the Nevada State Capitol. Unfortunately, there's no brewing going on here anymore... just an art gallery and a cafe'. What's this world coming to?
Ready to see the Nevada Capitol...