So if you’re thinking about a Lake Tahoe Elopement… You’ve come to the right place! As a destination elopement photographer, I’ve created this guide to make your elopement planning much easier! I’ve been all the way from North to South Lake Tahoe and the middle of the lake to the top of the mountain. I’ve seen Lake Tahoe at it’s coldest and warmest. So let’s get into it!
Best time to visit Lake Tahoe is in the Spring. April to June. Here’s why… You’re probably going to be spending a lot of time outside. Spring is nice because you get to experience waterfalls from the mountains, clear water, and nice weather. Another important factor that you don’t really think or know about are the forest fires. Forest fire season usually happens in the summer and carries all the way through fall. I’m not saying it will happen, but it’s better to not risk it.
Alternatives: Winter – Lake Tahoe is a big ski town! If you enjoy winter activities and don’t mind the cold, this is a great alternative time to visit! Also less crowded!
I’m not a big fan of midday. First, the lighting is trash, there are sooo many tourists, and it can get super hot (unless it’s cloudy). I recommend sunrise & sunset because the lighting is much more pleasant. Here’s why Lake Tahoe is so UNIQUE and is one of the BEST places to elope. You can take advantage of both sunrise & sunset. You can hit up the west side of the lake for sunrise and then afterward hit up the east side for sunset. There aren’t many places in the world that allow you to do that… so yeah Tahoe is sick!
There are two main areas. The north side of Lake Tahoe and the south side. The north side is more quiet and peaceful but lacks amenities like places to stay, restaurants, activities, etc. The south side is busier but has easy access to cool locations. So let’s dive deep into those two areas!
Hike: 2.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail. Elevation gain 479 ft
Located near South Lake Tahoe, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from April until October.
Hike: 5 mile out & back with 1761ft elevation gain
Maggies Peaks are gateway pillars to Desolation Wilderness overlooking Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe. There are two prominences: the north peak is 8,499′ and south peak is 8,699′. The trail starts from Bayview trailhead and offers sweeping panoramic views on the way up to Granite Lake, and from the top of either peak.
Hike: 4.4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail. Elevation gain 521 ft.
Hike: 0.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail. Elevation gain 137ft.
This spot that features a lake. One of the best views of the lake for sunset. Can get busy
1.4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail
This is one of the more popular hiking trails in Emerald Bay State Park. The best time to see the falls is in spring/early summer when Cascade Creek is roaring from the snowmelt that feeds it.
Hike: 2.2 mile heavily trafficked loop trail. Elevation gain 465 ft
Half of the trail is next to the lake, and the other half is in the forest. The “lighthouse” isn’t the main focus on this one
Hike: 2.7 mile heavily trafficked loop trail. Elevation gain 600 ft.
Hike: 2.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail. Elevation gain 623 ft
Located near Tahoe City, California and features a great forest setting. A great way to reach unobstructed views of Lake Tahoe.
Hike: 0.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail. Elevation gain 239 ft
Located near Homewood, California. Offers the chance to see wildlife and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, bird watching, and snowshoeing. Dogs are also able to use this
0.4 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Incline Village-Crystal Bay, Super clear water but can get crowded during day time for summer
A 0.9 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Carson City, This is also known to be a nudist beach, so you might see naked old peeps here during midday
Hike: 1.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail. Elevation gain 337 ft.
located near Carson City, Beautiful secluded coves
Hike: 1.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail. Elevation gain 291 ft.
Located near Crystal Bay, Nevada that features a beautiful view of the lake. This is a paved trail. Which means that it can be very crowded.
Hike: 2.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail. Elevation gain 567 ft.
One of the best places to paddleboard is Sand Harbor beach in North Lake Tahoe on the Nevada side – a short and pretty 30 minute drive from South Tahoe. The Nevada side is the best for this activity, but if you are on the California side, DL Bliss State Park at Lester Beach is awesome for paddleboarding.
The water is so clear, you can paddle around all of the signature Tahoe rocks and are able to see all of the rocks as you’re paddling over.
Place to rent paddleboards in Lake Tahoe!
If you prefer to sit, you can rent a Kayak instead of a stand-up paddleboard. You can rent for 4-8 hours and take in Lake Tahoe’s North Shore at a more leisurely pace. All of the same benefits of stand-up paddleboarding, but a little more laid back.
A tour from the sky would be a phenomenal way to experience Lake Tahoe. Take in the breathtaking mountains or sparkling waters.
We would have to go to the CA side of the lake because of the light pollution from Carson City, but this can be a very cool way to slow things down.
Super romantic. You can do this anywhere. It can be a lunch break on top of the mountain or dinner at sunset on the beach.
One of the most frustrating things about eloping in a beautiful location is that you’re bound to bump into tourists. The more beautiful the location, the more people you will see on the trail. And don’t forget about traffic as well.
So! How do we minimize this?
Avoid Weekends/Friday. On top of tourists, there are locals as well. And the best way to reduce the amount of people you meet on a trail is to go on weekdays.
Time! The most beautiful time of the day is sunrise or sunset. Most tourists will not wake up early for sunrise. And some tourists actually won’t stay at the top of the trail for sunset. (because they don’t want to hike back in the dark) So the best time I recommend is sunrise but if you’re not a morning person, sunset works as well! **I have headlamps for us if you choose to hike in the dark).
Difficulty. Take on a more difficult or longer hike! When you do this, you eliminate a portion of tourists with children, which is a lot of them.
If after reading this you have a good feeling about eloping in Lake Tahoe, you should reach out! I would love to chat about planning and photographing your wedding. Fill out the contact form here and I will get back to you!