Snow activities in Lake Tahoe are in a league of their own. With snow-capped Sierra Nevada peaks, towering Jeffrey pines, and crisp blue skies reflected upon Lake Tahoe’s famed crystal-clear waters, there are few prettier places to enjoy winter recreation than Incline Village-Crystal Bay.
The greater Truckee-Tahoe region boasts more than 20 world-class downhill and cross-country ski resorts and large swaths of public land that serve as endless playgrounds for expert-level backcountry snowboarding adventures, ice climbing forays, and wintry hiking excursions.
Locals and visitors are seeing some of the best holiday snow conditions in years thanks to the latest Lake Tahoe storm that dumped about 5 feet at upper elevations—with Incline Village snowfall coming in at 2 to 4 feet.
But what if you’re the type of person who’s not into strapping on a pair of skis or a snowboard and hitting the slopes? Thankfully, there are plenty of things to do in Lake Tahoe besides skiing. Whether you’re a long-time local, a new homeowner, or just visiting for the holidays, there’s fun to be had for all.
Experience Lake Tahoe Snow On Snowshoes
One of the neat things about winter at Lake Tahoe is that while snow totals can be measured in feet, big storms are often followed by grandiose amounts of sunshine—after all, the Tahoe-Truckee region, on average, gets 300 days of sun a year.
Being a homeowner in Incline-Crystal Bay comes with countless perks, including access to exclusive events and activities through the Incline Village General Improvement District, like its 55+ Snowshoe Hikes. From December through March, conditions permitting, trekkers of all abilities gather on Tuesdays for light- to moderate-level excursions on Lake Tahoe snow at several Sierra locations.
Thanks to affordable equipment and minimal risk of injury compared to skiing or snowboarding, snowshoeing is a winter activity anyone can enjoy. Incline Village serves as the epicenter for Lake Tahoe snowshoeing, offering incredible options within a few miles of each other, including:
Spooner Lake & Backcountry State Park
A few miles east of Incline at the Highway 28/50 junction, Spooner is a widespread recreational and natural oasis, featuring a lake surrounded by aspens and more than 12,000 acres of forested open space. The park partners with a local nonprofit, Nevada Nordic, to groom miles of cross-country ski and snowshoe trails for free use.
Galena Creek Recreation Area
Tucked off the Mount Rose Highway between Incline and Reno, Galena Creek is a natural setting of tall trees, mountain streams, and rocky canyons loaded with trails meandering through the forest and into the hills, with several leading to ridges providing panoramic views of the valleys below. Explore the trails or sign up for guided snowshoe hikes.
Farther up the hill between Mount Rose Summit and Incline sits Tahoe Meadows, offering quick access to the expansive Mount Rose Area Wilderness and Chickadee Ridge, named for the resident songbirds that live in the trees along the ridgeline. A two-mile round trip snowshoe hike to the ridge not only offers breathtaking views, but wild chickadees will fly up to you and land in your hand.
Sledding Is One Of The Best Snow Activities In Lake Tahoe
Tahoe Meadows also is an ideal location to enjoy a Lake Tahoe sledding adventure due to its immediate access off Highway 431. This area is packed each winter with parked vehicles as people of all ages hit the soft-banked slope on the west side of the road.
Once safely parked, take your last sips of hot cocoa, properly leash any four-legged friends, pull out your multi-colored sleds, and get ready for hours of slip-sliding fun. Just be sure to pick up your sleds and pack up any trash on your way out; an environmentally conscious effort that’s important for any sledding area in the region. Here are three more of our favorites:
Mount Rose Snow Play Area
A few miles north of Tahoe Meadows, this informal sledding spot is at the summit of the Mount Rose Highway, featuring a few hills that vary in steepness. Depending on snow levels, you’re also bound to find a few snowboarders in the area sliding down a makeshift terrain park.
Incline Village Snow Play Area
A locals’ favorite, this sledding area is situated at the driving range of the Incline Village Championship Golf Course off Fairview Boulevard. Bring your tubes and sleds to enjoy gentle slopes that provide an excellent place for children to play in the Lake Tahoe snow.
Spooner Summit Snow Play Area
The Spooner Lake & Backcountry State Park also features an informal sledding hill with a fairly steep gradient near the top, though you can always start your ride farther down the hill. Either way, trust us: You’ll get plenty of exercise walking up the hill.
Glide Atop Lake Tahoe Snow By Sleigh Or Snowmobile
Whether by traditional horsepower or the modern motorized approach, one of the best things to do in Lake Tahoe besides snowboarding or skiing is exploring the region’s extensive backcountry atop a snowmobile or horse-drawn sleigh.
While no businesses offer Incline Village snowmobile rentals, head a few miles east into California and check out Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours, located off Highway 267 at Brockway Summit between Kings Beach and Northstar California, there you can experience pristine snowmobiling through winding trails and National Forest roads around North Lake Tahoe.
Due to popularity, reservations are strongly encouraged to book 2-hour, 3-hour, or 4-hour group or private options. Group tours ride in a pack of 12 with a guide in front and back, whereas private tours include as few as four snowmobiles, allowing your guide to tailor the experience to your group’s ability level and interests.
Borges Sleigh & Carriage Rides offers private, narrated sleigh rides that traverse rolling hills and through towering pines for a more leisurely way to enjoy Lake Tahoe snow. Borges’ beautiful blonde Belgian horses stop along the tour to rest and allow time for you to take photos of the group and stunning scenery.
Delighting locals and visitors since 1967, the company offers scenic tours throughout Lake Tahoe. The most popular is at Sand Harbor State Park, located a few miles west of Incline Village off Highway 28. Borges describes it as “one of the prettiest places this side of heaven.” We wholeheartedly agree.
Enjoy Incline Village Snowfall And Aprés Without The Ski
The perfect way to cap a Lake Tahoe snow day is by shrugging off your ski boots, sliding into a cushioned bar seat, and sipping a cocktail (or two, who’s counting?) while catching up with friends and family. If you’re one of those people interested more in good libations than downhill vibrations, skip the slopes and partake in the wonderful activity of aprés ski, a French term that translates literally to “after ski” or “after skiing.”
For a true aprés ski experience, head to the second floor of the Base Lodge at Diamond Peak Ski Resort and grab a drink at the Loft Bar, which offers plenty of beer, wine, and curious cocktails. Hint: Happy hour drink specials are offered from 4 to 5:45 p.m.
You can also swing by the Lightning Grab-N-Go window on the first floor, featuring the Alibi Ale Works Pop-up Bar, for a tasty beverage to sip on the resort’s Base Lodge deck.
Of course, you don’t need to go to a ski resort to taste terrific Tahoe tipples. Here are a few other spots to consider for an aprés adventure:
Lone Eagle Grille
This world-renowned restaurant’s lounge features oversized windows that provide sensational Tahoe views, accented by heavy wooden beams, a two-story stone fireplace, and custom-made wooden tables and seating reminiscent of a classic alpine lodge. The venue is extra cozy during the holidays thanks to decorations that spare no expense.
Bite American Tapas
Established in 2007 by Thomas and Brooke McCarthy, Bite is in the heart of Incline Village, off Highway 28. Fifteen years later, the restaurant has made a name for itself thanks to its elegant American-style approach to tapas (small plates) and its bar, which serves carefully curated cocktails to warm you up after a cold winter’s day.
The Village Pub
Seek out a lower-key aprés option at this pub found a bit off the beaten path on Tanager Street. A locals’ favorite, The Village Pub is a great spot to sip craft beer, play classic bar games like pool, darts, and shuffleboard, and snack on bar foods, including the Tahoe-famous Pubber burger.
Whether you’re exploring Lake Tahoe snow on two snowshoes or two cocktails deep, you’re bound to have a fantastic time.
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