Lake Tahoe is one of the best places in North America to paddle board and take in the spectacular views by water. It is the largest alpine lake in the US with world-famous water clarity. This fresh, glassy water is perfect for stand up paddle boarding, whether you are a beginner or more advanced paddler.
Situated on the California and Nevada State border, there are plenty of spots to choose from all around the enormous lake. With 191 square miles surface area, 22 miles in length, and 12 miles in width, you will never get bored exploring these waters. So grab your inflatable SUP and head out to Tahoe for an adventure!
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Lake Tahoe Water Trail is an approved and recognized 72-mile circular route all around this extraordinary lake. We’ve checked it out and here are some of the key spots for paddle boarding in Lake Tahoe.
Tahoe is one of the best places to SUP in California. Here are our favorite places to paddle board at Lake Tahoe!
Start down in the South of Lake Tahoe and check out El Dorado Beach at Lakeview Commons. Located in the center of South Tahoe city, this beach offers all the amenities and facilities needed for a family day out on the water.
Make the most out of the free parking all year round and the nearby campground if you fancy a weekend getaway.
Lakeview Commons and South Lake Tahoe paddle boarding are great for beginners to learn the basics and gain some confidence.
Another great launch and access site can be found further round. Kiva Beach is a step away from the crowd, making it an ideal getaway for wildlife lovers. The extensive wetlands provide excellent paddle explorations where you can spot various birds, fowl, and fish.
Plan your Tahoe paddle board trip in Fall and look out for the spawning Kokanee salmon at Taylor Creek Stream Profile Chamber
Emerald Bay gives a more intimate experience of paddle boarding Tahoe. In this almost enclosed bay, you have views and access to Eagle Point, Fannette Island, and Vikingsholm.
You have to use the parking lot at Vikingsholm if you wish to launch in this bay. Otherwise, set up camp at Emerald Bay Boat Camp for a true escape to the wild.
In this bay, explore the magical waters of Lake Tahoe and soak up the incredible vistas.
D.L. Bliss State Park is one of the most loved places to explore and stand up paddle board Lake Tahoe. Here you can discover an excellent shoreline with stunning alpine views from the crystal clear waters.
From here, you can paddle around the headland to get views of the famous Rubicon Point Lighthouse. Or, go the other way towards Lester Beach for the chance to see osprey and other beautiful wildlife.
Fancy paddling alongside a sandy shoreline? Meeks Bay, on the West side of Lake Tahoe, is ideal for beginners to find their balance and hit the water. The clear waters are gentle and protected from challenging winds.
This State Park is one of Lake Tahoe’s most cultural and historical sites to visit. Here you can SUP from the public pier and make your way up towards Tahoma and Chambers Lodge. This shore line is slightly more rocky than other spots.
Don’t worry if you haven’t got your own paddleboarding gear. There are SUP rental stores around Sugar Pine State Park for you to grab a board and hit the water.
Common’s Beach is at the heart of Tahoe City. This is a great place to SUP Lake Tahoe with the whole family and even the dog with the dog-friendly beaches! There isn’t anything much better than paddle boarding with your dog on board with you.
Explore this stunning part of Lake Tahoe by paddle board and be sure to head up past the City Marina for more sandy beaches and clear waters.
Launching your board from here could not be easier with the parking lot nearby the beach which is free all year round.
Take in the views of snow capped mountain backdrops and alpine forests reflecting off the stunning waters.
Just North of Ridgewood is Carnelian Bay, a stunning combination of beach and wetlands waiting to be explored.
If you are looking to join a SUP Yoga class, or perhaps a Race or SUP Touring clinic class, check out Watermans Landing. This rental store provides a whole array of classes, adventures, and groups for paddlers to join.
Right at the top end of Lake Tahoe is Kings Beach, giving you access to paddle to either North Tahoe Beach or the stunning Speedboat Beach.
Photo credit: Tahoemoonproperties.com
If you are in need of a new profile picture worthy shot, we recommend you pack a dry bag with some supplies and head round the coast to Speedboat Beach. Here the waters are crystal clear with giant boulders peeking through the surface.
This is not a spot to be missed!
Continue around the headland from Speedboat Beach and you will discover the most spectacular bay on the lake. Crystal Bay is what dreams are made of.
Here the waters are so clear that you can see straight down to the bottom of the lake. The main access to the waters of Crystal Bay is from Incline Village:
Just be aware that this is the furthest point North you can get on Lake Tahoe, so the water is at its coldest with temperatures getting down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Sand Harbor State Park is often considered the best spot for Lake Tahoe paddle board sessions. Here you can explore a completely wooded peninsula that is edged with sandy beaches.
From this State Park, you can paddle around to take a look at the famous Thunderbird Lodge (also known as Whittell Estate(. This is a stunning example of a residential estate located on the lake where America’s oldest and most recognized wooden speed boats are housed.
It’s all in the name. Secret Cove is Lake Tahoe’s best kept secret. Escape the daily grind and venture into nature’s beauty. Access is from Secret Harbor, just a short paddle away. Hit the waters straight from the beach and explore this remote pocket.
And what more? This spot is perfectly sheltered from the afternoon winds sweeping across the lake.
While you are exploring the Secret Cove Harbor region, be sure to venture south slightly to Whale Beach for even more remote beauty in the wilderness.
Further round, moving back towards the bottom of the lake on the Nevada State side is Cave Rock at Lincoln Park.
You can make the most out of this small town and their amenities, making note of the chargeable parking fee’s all year round. Just be aware that this is a popular spot for both paddle boarding and boating. When launching your SUP, head straight out to the water from the beach and not the boat ramp.
Zephyr Cove in the Lake Valley is a firm favorite for summer vacations and weekend getaways all year round. There are plenty of various activities to keep families busy including hiking, horseback riding, boat charters, and of course, stand up paddle boarding.
If you are yet to get your own board and gear then check out the superbly stocked Lake Tahoe paddle board rental stores in the area. From here you have plenty of flat, calm waters to explore, right down to the Zephyr Point.
And last but not least, we have Echo Lakes. Ok, this spot is not strictly on Lake Tahoe. You can access this little pocket of water along the US Route 50 heading South from the El Dorado region.
This lake is perfect for Touring Paddle Boards with the perfect waters to slice through. It is also very well suited for a spot of SUP Fishing with salmon, various trouts, and brook to keep an eye out for.
The views are simply spectacular from up atop of this lake with it being an astonishing 7,415’ up in elevation.
As we have previously mentioned, there are rental stores dotted all around Lake Tahoe for you to grab a board if you don’t have your own yet.
Here are some Lake Tahoe paddle board rental recommendations to help you out:
*Make note to check with individual rental stores regarding opening hours, seasons, and new protocols required due to the pandemic restrictions, regulations, and safety measures.
If you are new to paddle boarding it is important that you take the time to crack the basics before heading out into deep waters with various hazards.
Some of the Lake Tahoe paddle board rentals offer lessons and classes for beginners to get to grips with the basics. Here is a launching checklist to guide you and get started:
Read more: How to Stand Up Paddle Board
Generally, paddle boarding lakes are relatively safe and a great place for beginners to learn the sport and techniques. However, there are always safety aspects every rider should be aware of no matter where they are paddling and no matter what their experience level is:
Common lake hazards include but are not limited to,
Lake Tahoe is one of America’s most loved destinations and it is no secret why. The water is simply spectacular. But there is more to it than that. With world-class mountains surrounding the lake's edge, there are so many other things to do in Tahoe after you're done paddle boarding for the day!
Tahoe is home to some amazing mountains and scenery. Explore the trails either by foot, mountain bike, or horseback. The hiking trails are mind blowingly awesome definitely worth the adventure.
Although these mountains look immense, there are trails that will be suitable for everyone. We recommend checking out the Cave Rock Trail which is only a 0.9 mile trip to get some spectacular views of both shoreline and mountain tops
As you may have guessed, the sights are definitely worth seeing. If you come all this way to Lake Tahoe make sure you head over to Heavenly Gondola Scenic Ride. Trust us when we say you will be left breathless from the panoramic views over the lake.
Lake Tahoe is also filled with loads of history and culture to discover. There are plenty of museums dotted around the lake for you to visit and learn more about the local area:
Anywhere mentioned in the article above! However, you are not restricted. As long as you can safely access the water you can paddle board anywhere in Lake Tahoe.
At a leisurely pace, the “average” paddle boarders will cover a mile in about 20 minutes. A standard speed of a SUP is 3mph. Depending on the rider’s fitness and equipment, this could be significantly faster or a touch slower
The width of Lake Tahoe is 12 miles. Taking an average speed of 3mph, you can paddle leisurely across Lake Tahoe in 4 hours. Make sure you pack a bag with some drinking water and other supplies to keep you going.
You can paddle board Lake Tahoe all year around, however the water temperature does drop significantly in the winter. The summer season will give you the warmest weather but that will also bring the crowds.
Spring and Fall are great seasons to avoid the vacation season but still make the most out of the scenic views.
Make note there are afternoon winds all year round between 2pm - 6pm which can be avoided in more sheltered areas on the East side.
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