17 Things Tahoe Locals Wished Visitors Knew

By Shanie Matthews

Lake Tahoe is a land of splendor. For those of us who call it home, that splendor is a glorious aspect of life that we treasure on a daily basis. And we do everything it takes to make living here happen, from working various jobs to living with multiple roommates in a small house to having few worldly possessions. With beauty comes sacrifice. And one of those sacrifices is that we have to share paradise.

There are times when we are sharing our home that we wish we could have a fun-hearted conversation with visitors about aspects to this life that we wish they knew. This desire is so deep, in fact, that there is a Facebook page set up just for locals to vent about this subject alone.

With Lake Tahoe’s intense beauty, it’s easy to become awestruck and lost in the moment, forgetting that a particular action might create negative repercussions. To help visitors enjoy their stay more while at the same time support the lovely place that locals call home, I thought I would share with you 17 things that Tahoe peeps wished visitors knew. These have been shared by friends, acquaintances, Facebook discussions and myself. May these tidbits of offering bring a higher level of enjoyment to this wonderful place we share.

  1. Be aware of Bear Care. In Lake Tahoe it is vital that you leave your car void of any food during the spring, summer and fall (and winter if there is little snow). Also when discarding of trash, please be certain that you are disposing of it in a bear-proof container. Leaving trash in a regular garbage can, or on the side of the road, is dangerous for both human and bear.
  2. When skiing or snowboarding, as you approach the lift gate entrances, please step to the side if you are waiting for stragglers. This allows people to proceed in the direction of the lift. To stand in the way, with your skis or board perpendicular (sideways) to the line of flow blocks others from advancing and goes against mountain etiquette.
  3. Please respect traffic laws – even on the side streets. If the speed limit is 45, then please drive 45. If you are in the neighborhoods, please drive like you are driving in your grandma’s neighborhood.
  4. Please take away your garbage. Unfortunately there is a lot of litter left behind (especially on the beaches) after large vacation periods such as July Fourth. If we all worked together this could be lessened considerably.
  5. If you're walking with your dog and he or she decides to take a poo, be sure to bag it. And please take the bag with you to dispose of in a garbage can! Leaving poo bags on the side of the trail is horrid on the environment and there is no magical poo fairy who will pick up the bags at a later time.
  6. It is appropriate to tip your ski or snowboard instructor and/or the instructor of your children. In fact, hourly wages tend to be low in Lake Tahoe, so tips tend to be the way that people are able to survive in Lake Tahoe.
  7. Please be aware that the sides of the roads are closed to parking throughout Lake Tahoe from November to May. It is illegal to park on the side of the road, as it can cause issues for plows and road crew during storm conditions.
  8. When approaching a roundabout with a yield sign, the sign actually means just that. You stop if, and only if, there is a car in the roundabout already that is in your line of traffic.
  9. It's a traffic law that if there are more than five cars behind you on a mountain road, you must pull over and let them go by.
  10. Please refrain from parking in areas that are designated no parking. This has become a habit in the last few years, creating incredibly dangerous road conditions, especially in the winter.
  11. When enjoying a day sledding, please be sure to pack out everything you brought with you. Also be sure to wear a helmet. It’s hard and fast out there.
  12. In the winter, if you are driving a 2WD car that requires chains, please be diligent about taking them on and off. Leaving them on your car when and where they are not needed, just because you may have to put them back on again, causes damage to your car and the road as well as creates traffic issues. Also please be sure to pull completely to the side of the road to take the chains off, allowing plenty of room for cars to pass.
  13. While skiing and using the singles line, please know it is there for a reason! When you get to the front of the singles line, it’s important to fill the first spot available on a chair. You don’t have to wait to be directed by lift-ops or invited by those in the main line.
  14. If you get stuck in the snow while driving side roads, you must dig out your car. If the automobile is left there, oftentimes the plow is not able to do its job because of being blocked by the stuck car. This creates major issues for everyone. In winter, please bring an appropriate car to Tahoe, a shovel and an understanding of winter driving skills.
  15. Hard hats are for construction work, not for skiing! This goes for bike helmets as well.
  16. Be patient with us locals. Most of us tend to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. We may be tired, overworked and underpaid. Pass us a smile: The gratitude that you receive back may amaze you.
  17. Have fun and enjoy the splendor that Lake Tahoe offers!

Thanks for visiting our beloved Lake Tahoe. To learn about all of the activities happening around the basin, visit our Daytime and Nightlife event sections.

Photos: Shanie Matthews, SFGate.com, KMPH.com, Greg Zirbel

About the Author Shanie Matthews
A longtime Lake Tahoe local, Shanie is a freelance writer, Vinyasa Flow yoga teacher and positivity warrior. A true lover of the the gorgeous Tahoe region, she connects with the serenity of the mountains via skiing, biking and backpacking. She also believes in the gift of yoga and its way of allowing one to become his or her true best self, a passion she shares with the world with her online yoga studio.