7 Places to See Fall Colors in Lake Tahoe

By Shanie Matthews | Saturday, October 23, 2021

Although the snow is gracing our basin in beautiful amounts, it still isn't too late to take in the gorgeous fall colors of Lake Tahoe. In fact, in my opinion, snow makes the sherbet colors of the aspens pop even more.

To take advantage of this small window of color therapy, I thought I would highlight some of the great places to take in the changing leaves of fall. A fantastic outing for all ages and athletics abilities, taking in the autumn landscape is one of those experiences that all should take the time to enjoy.

Hope Valley

South Lake Tahoe

Saved by the skin of its teeth in the Caldor Fire this summer, Hope Valley, located in South Lake Tahoe, is one of the best places to take in the golden hues of fall. Situated just south of South Lake, near Meyers, this area is blessed with leisurely hikes that meander through the trees. If you are choosing to check out this area on the weekend, I recommend making your trip a little earlier in the day to avoid accumulating traffic, which can occur as the day gets later, on Highway 88.

Markleeville

South Lake Tahoe

Located just on the other side of Hope Valley is our little jewel of a town, Markleeville. One of the fabulous aspects of this small township is the plentiful amount of small creeks that are framed by healthy aspens. To make your day that much more entertaining, be sure to take some time to check out Markleeville and its adorable boutique shopping, entertaining bars and tasty restaurants. Not to mention, some of the best fall colors in the area happen to surround the Markleeville courthouse. One other bonus to the area is Grover Hot Springs ... it finishes the day off right.

The beauty of fall colors framed by the white of the snow gods. Photo courtesy of Darren Campbell

Ebbetts Pass

South Lake Tahoe

Another jewel located on the south side of Hope Valley, Ebbetts Pass is one of the most beautiful drives a person can take. Considered a national scenic byway, this area is blessed with thousands of aspens. Check out the East Carson River or Kinney Creek for some extra beautiful fall color showings. Another great aspect to this area for those who are a little tired of exercise is that you can see most of the beauty from the seat of your car. One important point to mention: Highway 4 is a very windy road. Be sure to take your time and use caution.

Taylor Creek Visitor Center

South Lake Tahoe

One of my favorite rainy day excursions, especially if I am enjoying time with little kids, is to visit the Taylor Creek Visitor Center. A place dedicated to sharing the natural wisdom of this magnificent area, the visitor center offers child-friendly and disabled-friendly leisure trails that are stacked full of informative placards, helping children and adults alike learn about the biodiversity of the area. In addition to the changing colors of the trees, the fall also starts the running of the Kokanee Salmon up Taylor Creek and is easily seen at the Center's Stream Profile Chamber, located a quarter mile down the Rainbow Trail. This spectacular look into the underwater world allows visitors to get up close and personal with the fish via aquarium windows.

Zephyr Cove

 
Stateline
 
You can't do much better than mixing the beauty of Lake Tahoe's shoreline with the loveliness of the changing aspens. To take in both sights, be sure to visit Zephyr Cove. A part of the lake that is bestowed with some of the best views of Mt. Tallac, this is a gorgeous place to relax, take in the scenery and enjoy what Lake Tahoe has to offer. Situated on Highway 50, it is an easy hop, skip and jump for those enjoying South Lake Tahoe.
 
 
An aerial view of Lake Tahoe colors. Photo courtesy of Darren Campbell
 

Mount Rose

 
North Lake Tahoe
 
This is going to be the snowiest option for mixing your fall colors with early snowfall, as this is the highest year-round pass in the Sierra. But the height does have its benefits. It gives you views of Lake Tahoe and the Reno desert if you want a more demanding hike and choose to do the 10-mile excursion that goes to the top of Mount Rose. But even with a small amount of effort you can enjoy stunning views of meadows filled with golden-hued aspens. You can easily park on the side of the Mount Rose Highway to enjoy a family and disabled-friendly trail that wanders through the meadow, giving views of Slide Mountain and the peaks of Mount Rose.
 

Apple Hill

 
South Lake Tahoe
 
If you want to make your aspen color viewing more of an all-day affair, consider doing a bit more of a drive to the farmlands of Apple Hill, located west on Highway 50. This area of ranches, wineries and organic farms is perfect for when the snow is a bit too much in the Lake Tahoe area. Plus the area is filled with fun outings for the entire family like apple picking, pumpkins, wine tastings and, of course, plenty of foliage viewing. If you happen to be in the area over Halloween, October 31 also happens to be Nevada Day and is a fantastic time to enjoy the splendor of this farm town.

Please be sure to check out our Daytime and Nightlife sections to learn about fun, entertaining and exciting events happening all around Lake Tahoe.

First photo courtesy of Abe Blair

 

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.
Featured Article

Eating Right with Diabetes

By Lynn Norton, MS RDN
November is National Diabetes Month, a great time to explore the role that nutrition and lifestyle choices play in our lives. Although eating habits can be difficult to change, simple adjustments can be beneficial to manage diabetes and promote better... Read More
Lake Tahoe Articles