11 Surprising (and True) Facts About Tahoe

Have you ever wanted a quick-reference guide to fun facts about Lake Tahoe? Look no further! These facts may answer some of the questions you have about the lake and they may surprise you, as well.

  1. Crystal clear: Lake Tahoe is gifted with a unique appearance: clarity up to 70 feet below Lake Tahoe’s surface. Nearly 70% of annual rainfall hits directly on the surface of the lake, and the rest of the water flows through the meadows and marshes, which creates a beneficial filtration system. Another factor of Tahoe’s clarity is its high elevation and consistent snowfall throughout the year. With snowmelt running through creeks and falls which feed into the lake, the lake receives the purest form of water.

People docked their boats on the calm lake during the early hours of the morning. Photo Credit: Aramark / Rachid Dahnoun

  1. One of a kind: Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America. Stretching 191.9 square miles and holding 39.75 trillion gallons of water, Tahoe beats Crater Lake in Oregon with three times as much in length and ten times in capacity.
  2. You said how much? Tahoe has a capacity of 39.75 trillion gallons of water. Yes, you read that correctly! That is enough water to fill 60.2 million Olympic pools. With this amount, Tahoe could also supply 314 million people with 69 gallons of fresh water a day for 5 years. Now that’s a lot of water!
  3. Explore the great outdoors: With over 200 trails for biking, hiking, and running, you can get your fitness on in one of the most beautiful places in the country. Every trail offers a unique experience with different levels of difficulty, extraordinary views, and wildlife.

Heavenly Mountain Resort Skier gets some action on this year’s Heavenly slopes. Photo Credit: Heavenly Mountain Resort

  1. Just keep swimming: At a maximum depth of 1,645 feet at Crystal Bay, Tahoe is ranked the second deepest lake in the United States. If you were to put the Empire State Building (1,454 ft.) under the surface of Lake Tahoe, we wouldn’t be able to see the very top point of the building.
  2. Break the ice: Tahoe is unable to completely freeze due to the amount of water compared to its relative surface area. This prevents the lake from reaching freezing temperatures. Looks like ice skating won’t be an option on this lake!
  3. Stargazing at its finest: Tahoe’s South Shore is home to 1,307 campsites, so pitch a tent, make some smores, and look up to the great night sky. Many spots in the Basin have great views of the “Triple Conjunction,” which includes the triangle formation of Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury.
  4. Dare to climb: Lake Tahoe is surrounded by six peaks. The tallest is Freel Peak, which reaches an astonishing 10,881 feet. If you were to stack 7.5 Empire State Building’s on top of one another, they would reach the top of Freel Peak!
  5. And many more: Tahoe has existed for over 2 million years. Formed by the movement of glaciers, the valley eventually sunk in creating the Tahoe Basin.

Another beautiful sunset casts its rays over Emerald Bay. Photo Credit: Rod Hanna / Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority

  1. Origins of time: The name “Tahoe” originates from the Washoe Native Americans. It was a mispronunciation of one of their native words: “da ow a ga,” which means the edge of the lake. Ancestral Native Americans first inhabited the lake 10,000 years ago. The Washoe Tribe occupied the Tahoe Basin for 1,300 years up to the 20th
  2. Small town, big city feel: There are around 23,000 year-round locals in Tahoe South, but on peak days in the summer and winter, the population can reach nearly 300,000. A total of 3 million people visits Lake Tahoe every year.

What was your favorite fact? Let us know when you visit the Ridge Tahoe for your Tahoe vacation!

Reference: Tahoe South and Tahoe Fund

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