On a timeline to make it to the Bruce Springsteen meet and greet in Los Angeles for early October, we still made time for a quick detour to the Lake Tahoe area before heading to SoCal. We had always heard how nice it was and just didn’t want to pass it up, especially as we didn’t necessarily see us going far out of our way to come here for a separate trip (or so we thought!).
We reserved a spot through recreation.gov two days in advance at Goose Meadow(s) Campground (there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on the name – the sign at the entrance has it singular but so many online resources have it as plural), a National Forest Service run campground. As it seemed to still be busy at the tail end of the season, we struck out at some other parks on the California side and wanted to be sure we had a spot. Turns out we would have been fine and could have saved the $10 reservation fee, but alas!
It was a little bit of a tight campground, but it was quiet and the camp host was friendly at this no frills, dry site in the woods. In the seventies during the day, but below freezing at night, it was clear that we were above 6000 feet in elevation.
Only really having one full day in the area, we ultimately decided to visit the most popular state park around Lake Tahoe, Sand Harbor. We were a little bit nervous about going to what looked like would be the most crowded destination on the lake, but the pictures of it were so beautiful, we wanted to take our chances.
About a forty minute drive from our campsite, the route took us partly around the lake and partly through a lovely little ski lodge town that made us totally feel like we were in an Olympic Village. Sand Harbor State Park in on the Nevada side, so naturally there were some casinos in the area as well.
We paid $10 as non-Nevada residents to get in and parked in the somewhat small lot (wouldn’t want to take our camper here, though there were some small class C’s). We walked up to the beach initially to scope out where we’d want to lug our stuff and take the short walking trail. I couldn’t believe that the water really was as beautiful and tropical blue as the pictures online! There was a large beach with views of mountains in the distance, but the most scenic and arguably most famous part is the small stretch of beach littered with boulders and small overlooks.
Surprisingly, the smaller, scenic stretch of beach wasn’t terribly crowded, so we settled in there. The water was preeeetty chilly, but that beautiful blue, clear water still drew me in. I couldn’t get myself to wade in farther than just above waist deep for long without getting that prickly knives feeling, but I still spent probably almost an hour just wading around, taking it in, and taking some photos.
The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing on the beach and watching kayakers and paddle boarders (probably much more reasonable activities than swimming, at least that time of year). To complement the tropical looking water, you could order alcoholic beverages from their cafeteria and sip them on the beach. We happened to be there on the last day of the season in late September so it was a very limited menu, but I still scored this tasty margarita…
Yeah, I think we’ll be back one day….