Kayaking at Lake Tahoe - Ultimate Guide

Canoes and Kayaks

Experience the extraordinary beauty of nature at its very best at Lake Tahoe. Situated on the California-Nevada border, Lake Tahoe is a popular vacation spot with a footfall of 2.7 million people yearly. The steep granite cliff sides of the mountains accompanied by the crystal-clear water is truly a fascinating sight – in fact, it is said to be one of the most beautiful water bodies in the US. It is also one of the best locations for kayaking. 

So if you plan to kayak at Lake Tahoe, keep reading this guide as we help you understand everything about kayaking at Lake Tahoe.

kayaking on lake tahoe

When should you visit Lake Tahoe for Kayaking?

If you plan to kayak at Lake Tahoe, fix your trip dates from March to May and September to November. Even though the beach witness visitors throughout the year, there is a little break in tourist visits during the fall. However, visitors re-emerge as it gets colder, geared up in ski gears, welcoming the snow.

Traveling in March or November would let you enjoy the lake at a fraction of the price and hence is a highly recommended time for kayaking. The temperature rises steadily from March through May. So, at this time of the year, Lake Tahoe slowly transitions to become a popular beach destination.

However, prices are still low, and crowds are thinner at this time. The average temperature ranges during these months vary between 23℉-49℉ and 32℉-64℉. Some key events during these months are Snow Golf Tournament, South Tahoe Earth Day Festival, etc. June through August witness the highest footfall.

As the temperature sears up to 70℉, the beaches get swarmed with people and colorful umbrellas! The prices are soaring, so ensure you book your tickets and hotels at least three months in advance.

From September till November, the average temperature declines from 74℉ to 22℉, and so do the prices. Expect a sharp slump in visitors as well. During these months, some of the most interesting and exciting events await tourists – Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival, Lake Tahoe Fall Fish Festival, etc. This is another period where you can visit Lake Tahoe for kayaking.

How to kayak at Lake Tahoe

As Lake Tahoe is quite a vast lake, and it isn’t easy to circumnavigate it in a single day, it is better to divide it into segments. Following are some of the divisions you can make for enjoying a fun day kayaking in Lake Tahoe.

The North Shore

Various soft sand beaches accompany the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. The north shore also provides good paddling opportunities as it helps access multiple natural and cultural tourist sites near the beach area. Also, various launch and landing sites with amenities are available at the North Shore.

Moreover, you can also go out to shop at the King’s beach and enjoy yourself with your friends in Tahoe café and restaurants in the carnelian bay area. There are also specific common beaches in Tahoe city that you can explore. You can also check out the marvelous Gatekeeper’s Museum at Lake Tahoe’s outlet, and the Barton Creek falls.

The East Shore

The East shore provides one of Lake Tahoe’s best and most scenic paddling areas. It is surrounded by massive boulders, which reflects in its calm waters. You would also find certain pine trees perch in the rocky fields and small inlets lined with willow trees.

Most of the east shore at Sand Harbor is publicly owned and has just enough beach for a quiet lunch or get-together, but this is not the case until you move south towards the Cave Rock region. So, if you’re launching from this location, plan on a day excursion.

The South Shore

The south side of Lake Tahoe consists of the Emerald Bay, also known as the jewel of Lake Tahoe. Here you will find various sandy beaches, large meadows, marshes, and various historical sites. So, if you are planning to kayak at the south shore of Lake Tahoe Emerald Bay, be ready to experience wind blasts as it is known for its unpredictable winds.

Also, there are various restaurants on the lakeside and birdwatching spots that you must check out at Lake Tahoe. However, kayaking at Emerald Bay requires some experience since you have to travel a long way from the Baldwin beach and unpredictable wind conditions. So it is better to travel with someone who knows the nick of the place.

The West Shore

The West Shore at Lake Tahoe possesses clear and calm water areas. Along with it, it also houses various cultural as well as natural event areas.

You can also go for a short hike to the Eagle Rock, which is accessible from Kaspian Beach. One section of the west shore, also known as the Meeks bay, provides various lakeside campgrounds and cabins so that you can rest for a day trip or an overnight trip.

Best Kayaking Tours at Lake Tahoe

The Explorer Adventure

It is an incredible excursion experience for all ages. The explorer adventure does not have a destination; it would explore different beautiful destinations. The total duration of the tour is about 3 hours, and you will enjoy this beautiful experience as the kayak travels through the peaceful shoreline of Lake Tahoe.

The Bonsai Rock Tour

The Bonsai Rock Tour is one of the most beautiful experiences at Lake Tahoe. Here you can paddle along the rocky shoreline, explore giant boulders and experience transparent clear waters with a visibility up to 65 feet, which is astounding.

The LED Kayak Experience

Some Lake Tahoe Kayak rentals also provide unique tours like the LED kayak experience, where guests are taken on a guided paddle and can enjoy the lake’s beauty and the wildlife of the Lake Tahoe basin to get the complete essence of it.

LED Stargazing Tour

If you love stargazing, this would be a natural paradise. You enjoy stargazing along the South Lake Tahoe shoreline and illumination from the LED kayaks. It is a highly recommended tour if you want a surreal experience.

Where to Rent Kayaks at Lake Tahoe?

For Lake Tahoe Kayak rentals, you should contact a good rental company that would give you an entire package for your kayaking experience at a reasonable price range. You can get in touch with some renting companies like “Lake Tahoe Kayak Rentals” and “Clear Kayak, and Transparent SUP Rentals & Tours” who provide some of the best kayaks for rent. We recommend that you make reservations from an early date to avoid any last-minute rush.


Lake Tahoe in the summer is one of the best places for kayaking, and we hope that you will make the best use of this guide while planning your trip. Make sure you research well to have the best kayaking trip with your near and dear ones.

kayak lake tahoe


How deep is Lake Tahoe?

Lake Tahoe is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the United States, and it is around 1645 feet, which is approximately 501 m making it the second deepest lake in the United States.

What is the best time to kayak at Lake Tahoe?

Lake Tahoe is generally windy and wavy from 2 to 6 pm. So it is usually recommended that you paddle in the morning or early afternoon. However, if you plan a multi-sport day, we recommend a morning battle and hiking in the afternoon.

What type of clothing should you wear kayaking at Lake Tahoe?

You should dress in quick-drying apparel and footwear. The best clothes are usually synthetic (mostly polyester). Clothing made of cotton dries the slowest and so makes you feel colder. Sneakers are preferable to sandals or water shoes. It’s a good idea to bring a waterproof windbreaker jacket. Because of our high altitude and the lake’s reflection, sun protection is a must. See here what to wear kayaking in summer.

How long does it take to paddle at Lake Tahoe?

Most recreational paddlers paddle at roughly 2.5 mph across Lake Tahoe, about 12 miles long. The majority of people require at least 4 hours to cross. Kayaking across Lake Tahoe is not something we would suggest. Out in the middle of the lake, enormous power boats are running at full speed, with the chance of strong winds and large waves.

kayaking in lake tahoe

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About The Author 

Hi, my name is Andy and I am the creator and owner of Canoe-Kayaks.com. I’ve been into water sports for as long as I can remember and I love nothing more than spending a day on the water with my family. This website is a way for me to share my passion with everyone, through providing some helpful guides and tips for canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding.

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