Lake Tahoe in Fall: Foliage, Attractions & Events

Lovely view of trees atop a cliff seen from the Vikingsholm Hiking Trail, Emerald Bay State Park, South Lake Tahoe, California

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Looking to visit some of California’s most popular attractions with fewer crowds? Consider Lake Tahoe in fall.

Not only will you miss the summer and winter footfall but you’ll also have the opportunity to explore fall colors in and near Lake Tahoe.

This guide shares the best things to do in Lake Tahoe in the fall including foliage drives, autumn nature walks, waterfalls, seasonal events, food, drink, and fun thrill-seeker activities!

We share recommendations on how visitors and locals can spend time during the shorter fall days in the Jewel of the Sierra.

Plan for temperatures ranging from high of 74F in September and lows of 31F in November.

The article also includes suggestions close to the Lake Tahoe, so if you’re local and have fatigued the area’s fall activities, you can still pick up some tips for this year!

So let’s take a look at the Lake Tahoe in autumn suggestions for couples, friends, and families.

You may also like our guides, free things to do in Lake Tahoe, California in fall, and our California bucket list.

Things to do in Tahoe in the Fall

Eagle Lake & Eagle Falls

The hike to Eagle Lake & Eagle Falls is a popular family-friendly attraction that offers beautiful fall colors, a waterfall, and a lake at the end. 

Located across Highway 89 from Emerald Bay State Park.

Within the park, Eagle Loop provides a short hike if your intention is not to go the two miles round trip to Eagle Lake.

If you intend to go all the way to the lake, complete the free desolation wilderness permit to help the park track how many people are using the trail to access the wilderness. 

You will be blown away by the views of the beautiful trees and huge mountains.

The drive along Highway 89 offers a palette of fall colors on either side of the road so you can enjoy the ride as well as the destination!

Eagle lake in California during autumn with start of fall colors on trees

Emerald Bay 

Coming from Taylor Creek, you will get to Emerald Bay State Park first, and it has nice areas to witness fall in its glory. 

Continue to see Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe waterfalls, bold greens, yellows, and hints of purple fall colors.

Want independence with a bit of guidance? Consider taking a self-guided tour around Lake Tahoe.

Lovely view of trees atop a cliff seen from the Vikingsholm Hiking Trail, Emerald Bay State Park, South Lake Tahoe, California

Taylor Creek Visitor Center 

Autumn is the best time to visit Lake Tahoe for fall colors, especially if you are a fan of aspen foliage. 

The crowds are gone, the temperatures are crisp and pleasant, and the aspens provide yellow pops of cheery color. 

In South Lake Tahoe, Taylor Creek Visitor Center is a terrific location to learn some history and see bursts of yellow and orange fall colors. 

Taylor Creek has two popular trails–Rainbow Trail and Lake of the Sky Trail.

Each trail provides a spectacular view of Mt Tallac in the fall.

Nature exhibits and views underneath Taylor Creeks make this an excellent place for children.

Take a drive along highway 89 (Emerald Bay Rd) still in the Taylor Creek area on the way to Emerald Bay; on both sides, aspens are showing off their bright pops of yellow and orange.

Fallen Leaf Lake

The Fallen Leaf Lake meadow presents another excellent route to see Lake Tahoe fall colors.

The trails are easy, and the views are beautiful, with plenty of paths leading to the lake.

A popular spot for camping, but the lakefront spots go quickly, so get out there early.

There’s lots of parking outside the camp area, and dogs on a leash are welcome.

Down the road are more expansive views of aspens.

Rent a boat at the General Store and pick up something to eat to have a picnic on the water and make a day of it. 

Camp at the falling leaf campground, just a few miles from Lake Tahoe.

With 206 campsites, you can easily find a spot for your travel trailer, motorhome, or tent. 

Most sites are large, and towering pines provide shade and look fantastic in the fall. 

Amenities include water, hot showers, flush toilets, a picnic area, and trails.

Local Tip: Limited cell service, so be sure to download all maps before visiting.

Heavenly Gondola Ride

Heavenly Village (1001 Heavenly Village Way) is a family-friendly attraction that has something for everyone.

People come in the winter to ski, but in the fall and the rest of the year, you can take a gondola ride to the top to see epic views of the Lake Tahoe basins and surrounding valleys and mountains.

The observation point is the only stop before the top, so take advantage of spectacular views.

At the top, Loop trails, zip lining, and good food await. 

Local Tip: Layer up as the wind at the top can be breezy and crisp!

Van Sickle Bi-State Park

Stand on the state lines of Nevada and California, where this stunning park is nestled and overlooks Lake Tahoe. 

Great for all hikers, both beginner and advanced, this 90-minute hike has access to the waterfall and other scenic views of the lake.

If you are up to it, continue the trail to experience more breathtaking views. 

Zephyr Cove

Zephyr Cove Resort (US 50 W/Highway 50), 14 miles from Taylor Creek and just 10 miles from Van Sickle Park, has coffee and its display of colors in Lake Tahoe in the Fall. 

With fewer crowds, you can enjoy a cup of coffee and gaze at the yellow, orange, and red from the small grove of aspens along the coast.

Big rocks and snowy mountains at vZephyr Cove, Lake Tahoe

Tahoe Photographic Scenic Tour

This half-day tour of Lake Tahoe is excellent for individuals traveling alone or in a group.

The tour focuses on the best places to see in Lake Tahoe on and off the beaten path. 

Tours are semi-private, which means you get more than enough time to capture memorable images at your pace. 

The tour starts at the South Shore of Lake Tahoe.

Fall in Lake Tahoe Map

Click this link to see a map of the Lake Tahoe autumn locations and attractions so you can easily plan an itinerary or road trip.

Lake Tahoe in Fall Map

Fall Things to Do Near Lake Tahoe

North Canyon Road

If you only have time for one location to see the fall colors in Lake Tahoe, North Canyon road is that spot.

Located in Spooner Lake Park and just a short hike from the parking lot, you will be in a fall color paradise with its Aspens!

Endless shades of light and dark shades of yellow, green, and amber leaves from the aspen trees line the trail.

The loop around is flat and easy for someone with a mobility issue.

Equally favorable for both walking and biking.

The best time to visit North Canyon Road in fall is mid to late October.

Apple Hill

You can plan a day trip to Apple Hill and still not cover all it has to offer. 

Located near Placerville in the Sierra Foothills, about an hour’s drive from Lake Tahoe, this community of 50 local growers is a must-visit If picking apples, pumpkin patches, wineries & hard cider, and yummy warm baked items sound good.

There are orchards and apple stands to visit, and you can pick your apples too.

Be sure to visit Rainbow Orchards to experience their apple cider donut, a crowd favorite.

Luther Pass to June Lake

About 30 minutes from Fallen Leaf Lake, the scenic drive to Luther Pass is a tremendous addition to a day for seeing fall colors around Lake Tahoe. 

Ending at June lake makes the trip more rewarding as you can leave your vehicle and walk the trail along the lake.  

All along the drive, you have opportunities to dart off to take selfies. These stopping areas are motorhome friendly.

Luther Pass offers free campgrounds (look for the brown signs), and you can see some of the best lake Tahoe fall colors.

Hope Valley

Hope Valley is located in Alpine county and is picturesque in the fall. 

Snapshots of yellowish greens, burnt orange, black cottonwood, aspen, and willows flow together to complement each other. 

A day-long hike in Hope Valley delivers some of the best fall foliage in Lake Tahoe. 

Only 40 miles from South Lake Tahoe, Take Highway 50 in the direction of Echo Summit. Then take Highway 89 south to Pickett’s Junction.

Hope Valley is one of the most popular photography spots near Lake Tahoe.

Rustic barn with fall colors around it at Hope Valley California

Markleeville

Just down the road from Hope Valley is the small town of Markleeville. Population less than 200 and offers excellent aspen line creek beds that display a whimsical fall backdrop. 

Markleeville has boutiques, antique shops, restaurants, and bars worth visiting.

Top off your day trip by immersing yourself in the Grover Hot Springs and taking in the valley’s scenic view.

Ebbetts Pass

Head 30 minutes from Markleeville to Ebbetts Pass along Highway 4, just south of Hope Valley, to the scenic byway, and thousands of aspen trees await to show their vibrant autumn display. 

East Carson River and Kinney Creek are where you want to put your focus.

On either side, the trees are visible from the car, but for the best experience, consider a leisurely walk and stop for a picnic. 

Locations Near Lake Tahoe With Fall Colors Map

Click this link to access a map which details the above locations in California.

Near Lake Tahoe fall locations map

Fall Events in Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe in September

Lake Tahoe South Shore Labor Day Fireworks

There are heaps of things to do in Lake Tahoe in September.

If visiting over the Labor Day Weekend you are in for a treat with the fireworks display over the lake.

Consider the viewpoints, Nevada Beach, Edgewood Tahoe and El Dorado Beach in South Lake Tahoe.

Live Music at Harveys

If you’re looking for live entertainment in September, check out the schedule at Harveys Lake Tahoe.

The hotel has a huge outdoor arena which hosts well known acts like Dave Mathews Band.

Tahoe’s Famers’ Market

It is your last chance to pick up local produce at the Tahoe Farmers’ Market as the season ends at the start of October.

Farmers erect stalls at Commons Beach, weekly, summer through to fall.

Lake Tahoe in October

Fall Fish Festival

If the waters are swelling, visitors can witness the Kokanee salmon migrate at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center.

The event includes children’s activities, educational programs, stream-side programs, a children’s run, 5k, 10k, and half-marathon trail.

Note: Previous years have been canceled because of drought.

Lake Tahoe Marathon

Pound the scenic roads of The Lake Tahoe Lakeside Marathon or The 72 Mile Tahoe Midnight Express this October.

There’s even kids’ pumpkin runs making the marathon a family-friendly event.

Lake Tahoe Oktoberfest

Join the decades old Camp Richardson’s Annual Lake Tahoe Oktoberfest for brews and Bavarian food.

This is a day event and kids are welcome to pick out a pumpkin and play on the bounce house!

That’s just a handful of the things to do in October in Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe in November

Gay Snow Day Festival

Leaving fall behind and sliding, or sledding, into winter you can catch Gay Snow Day at Snowball, Squaw Creek, Truckee. Lake Tahoe.

This is a weekend event packed with parties with DJs and après ski socializing!

What are you favorite Lake Tahoe fall activities? Tell us in the comments.

Ski boarder at sunset on snowy mountain

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