Read That Title One More Time
Yea, this blog is not about how to prepare for your trip to Lake Tahoe. It's about how to prepare Lake Tahoe for your trip. Why? Because, since 2020, we have had to deal with a significant disaster each year. From smoke to evacuation and blizzards to flooding, Tahoe's residents have been in a pretty constant state of distress. Levels of stress, anxiety, agitation and exhaustion are at an all time high. We've all been doing everything we can to keep our homes standing, our property safe, our roads open and businesses running. If you want to visit us, there are some actions you can take to improve your experience and respect those of us that serve you while you do.
Roads, Roh-ads, Ro-ahds
Before you even consider traveling to Lake Tahoe hop on the whizbang machine and look up the local road updates. Visit Caltrans, NVDot, City of South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County, Douglas County, Washoe County and Placer County. Look at the roads you want to travel and read reports about the conditions in the basin as well as on the surrounding roads. A simple Google search can get you a whole lot of information.
If you've never driven in snow, a blizzard in Lake Tahoe is not the time to learn. If your car doesn't have Winter, and I mean WINTER, tires on it reduce your risk and the risk to others by waiting until the roads are clear. If the traffic is heavy and the drive is predicted to take 5 hours, assume that means 8. If the roads are icy, assume there will be an accident as a result. Beyond avalanche risk there is the potential for mud slides and rock fall during the Winter and Spring. In the Summer season, the increase in traffic slows everything down. Finally, any resident will tell you to stay off the local streets unless you're staying on them. Routing apps don't know what the snow, ice or pothole conditions are like.
My favorite line from the 2023 storm season was spoken by a visitor who called to check if we were open during a blizzard. They said, "The house rental company says that Tahoe is open and business is running as usual." I was unable to stifle my laugh as I explained that there is a blizzard happening and it is not safe to be out on the roads. Many rental company managers do not live in Tahoe and have no idea what conditions are like. They're focus is on their bottom line.
I have no idea what "business as usual" looks like in Lake Tahoe anymore. Many businesses are short staffed, have cut hours or changed their approach. We are all still trying to figure out how to work and live with the many changes resulting from the pandemic. Not only has it become more difficult to get products, mitigating the results of damages from the storms is an added responsibility we have to manage. Prices are higher, time is shorter and patience is a commodity.
We want you to visit and we want you to have a good time when you do. If you would also like to enjoy your stay, then check in before you come. Visit your favorite spots on social media and their websites. Check for the last update, images and posts to get a feel for how things are going. Call the people who actually live and work here and confirm that you can make a reservation or if their shop is open. Ask what they recommend you do. Use your resources and, even if the things they are saying aren't what you want to hear, believe them. You'll have a much better experience if you visit when we're all relaxed rather than adding to the stress.
Do Your Homework
Whether you wish to adventure out into the forest, trek down to the beach, hit the slopes, go out to dinner or get a spa treatment, do some homework beforehand.
Find out if the place you want to visit is accessible. When there's loads of snow many parking lots and snowpark areas are limited or completely restricted. You may not be able to park safely. Use the local webcams and resources to find out if access is open.
Make a reservation. When you make a reservation you are not only preparing yourself, but also the people who are going to guide or serve you. At Bliss Experiences we prepare for your visit the day before and set up the space two hours prior to each session. We require that you register to attend, and while not everywhere does, your reservation can make a big difference to your experience. When a business or location knows to expect you they can prepare by making sure they have staffing and materials ready.
Learn the rules. Yes, there are rules for how to snowshoe, downhill skiing, back country hiking, snowmobiling, Jeeping, paddle boarding, boat driving, you name it. Don't be like the jerk in the photo above who decided to posthole beside the snowshoe path. Learn about the distance a power boat should be from a paddle board. Demonstrate respect to others by following the rules while out on the slopes. Before you play, learn the rules for the activity you want to do and you'll be respected and appreciated rather than harassed and disliked.
Tell Your Friends & Write Reviews
I bet, after all the work you've done, you've learned a thing or two about how to be a better visitor of Lake Tahoe. Don't keep it to yourself! Share what you've learned with your friends, in a Google or Yelp or TripAdvisor review, so others can be better stewards of responsible tourism and, possibly, effect a change in the visitorship of Tahoe. We'd sure appreciate it.
I am of the belief that if you have information that can help someone be better, and they are open to hearing it, share it. While loading the plane home from a trip, I overheard people talking about how excited they were to visit Tahoe for the first time. The opportunity to speak up became available and I told them to be sure to check their rental car for Winter tires and ask for chains even if they didn't think they'd need them. Luckily, a Reno resident behind me spoke up in agreement, reinforcing the need and encouraging the visitors to follow my guidance.
There are Facebook groups you can join where you can search for and ask questions about your specific travel needs. The Tahoe Visitors Authority is a great resource for information about the South Tahoe area. Visit Tahoe.com to discover new businesses and experiences in the area. If you're seeking an authentic, "local" experience then ask your server, bellhop, ba tender or housekeeper for their recommendations. And don't forget to tip!
Bliss Experiences curates and customizes classes, workshops and events in South Lake Tahoe that bring local small business owners and professionals together with residents and visitors seeking opportunities to connect with nature and themselves. If you're planning a visit and want to include wellbeing experiences, reach out. We'll plan for you or refer you to our preferred providers so you can have your own Bliss Experience.
Jenay Aiksnoras, Experience Curator