● By Judy Zimmerman
Photo courtesy of Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort.
Lake Tahoe, America’s largest alpine lake, captures the eye with an expanse of clear, sparkling water encircled by the Sierra Nevada’s snowcapped mountain peaks and towering, dark green forests.
Straddling the California-Nevada border, the lake is 12 miles wide and 22 miles long. The astounding beauty of the lake reflects winter’s ever-changing sky and the brilliant colors of sunrise and sunset. Perhaps Mark Twain said it best when he described Lake Tahoe’s beauty as a place “where the water is clearer than the air, and the air is the air that angels breathe.”
Recently, I attended a weeklong writers’ conference to discover some of the best outdoor and indoor adventures at both the north and south shores of Lake Tahoe. Traveling in the safety and comfort of the Zephyr, I boarded Amtrak’s early afternoon train from the Roseville station to the main street of historically rich Truckee. Truckee’s train station is within a short walk to many fine restaurants, intriguing boutiques, quaint inns, and galleries. Near Truckee, Donner Memorial State Park offers cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails that nestle among towering pines and wind along Donner Lake’s emigrant trails.
From Truckee, my small group took a local taxi to the nearby Village of Northstar-at-Tahoe to choose from snowboarding and skiing lessons, ice skating and snowshoeing, and a wide choice of dining and shopping venues. To get to South Lake Tahoe, we booked a comfortable shuttle for the ride around the North Shore and along the serene, less-traveled east side of the lake.
After an invigorating workout on one of Camp Richardson’s South Shore’s snowshoe and cross-country ski trails, we treated ourselves to the longtime favorite Rum Runners’ Punch and a delicious lunch at the resort’s lakeside Beacon Bar and Grill. Just a few blocks from South Shore’s casinos and ski slopes, we snuggled together on the Borges Family’s Sleigh as two horses carried us over the snowy meadow and through the trees, jingling all the way. We passed Friday’s Station where Pony Express riders once changed their horses on the way to Sacramento.
Through March this year, complimentary VIP day bus trips for Harrah’s and Harvey’s casinos depart from four locations in Sacramento on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The winter playground of Lake Tahoe awaits your visit!
More to See and Do!
Horse-drawn sleigh ride through South Lake Tahoe
Sleighing photo courtesy of Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.
Let it snow, let it snow at Tahoe! You can leave the hassle of driving to Lake Tahoe and Reno by choosing the comfort and convenience of a bus or train, either free or at a very reasonable rate.
The Amtrak train departs Roseville daily for Truckee at 11:35 a.m. Parking at the Roseville train station is free and from Truckee's train station, it's a short walk to many fine restaurants, intriguing boutiques, quaint inns, galleries and wine tasting. To return to Roseville, take the Greyhound bus from the Truckee train station at 4:20 p.m. or 7:25 a.m.
If you prefer to take the Greyhound bus roundtrip from the Sacramento bus station, it departs at 3:50 p.m. and returns from Truckee daily at 4:20 p.m.
In the past, I've enjoyed taking the train from Roseville one-way and returning from Truckee by bus to Roseville the following day. The price is about $70 roundtrip for a senior. (The date you purchase your train ticket prior to departure affects the price, with earlier bookings costing less.)
It's easy to book a taxi from the Truckee train station to Squaw Valley and the Northstar-at-Tahoe Village or take the free Tahoe Area Regional Transit (TART).
Every Wednesday, Alpine Adventures offers special bus package rates for children, teens, and adults (weather permitting) to five ski resorts at Tahoe. Many include skiing and snowboard lessons for all levels.
For gamblers and those who prefer indoor activities, Amador Stage Line's Complimentary VIP bus trips depart Sacramento from four locations: Wednesdays and Saturdays - it goes to South Shore; Fridays and Sundays - Reno. While the first VIP bus trip is complimentary, to qualify for successive complimentary trips, guests are expected to gamble at Harrah's or Harvey’s Lake Tahoe casinos (about a minimum of four hours). On the way up, coffee, juice and donuts are served, and there is no-charge BINGO on the bus. Cocktails, soft drinks and snacks are served on the way home and a movie is shown. A $7 meal voucher is provided for the lunch buffet or a casino restaurant.
On Sundays, another bus program – the Great American Stage – charges $30 per person for a six hour stay. It includes $20 slot play at Harvey's Lake Tahoe plus a free buffet.
From Harvey’s, Harrah's (and other casinos) at South Shore, there are free shuttles to Squaw Valley. Advance reservations are required.
IF YOU GO…
Tahoe Regional Transit (TART)
Taxis from Truckee:
Eco Taxi, 530-386-3836, veggietaxi.com
FAST Taxi. 530-583-6699 or 800-977-TAXI
Complimentary VIP Bus Program
Great American Stage Casino Bus Schedule
Free South Lake Tahoe Shuttle