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The essential winter scenic drive around Lake Tahoe, Nevada

Beaches, caves, and endless sunsets...

  • 9
  • 00:47
  • $3
  • 28 mi.
Take This Trip

Created by Discount Tire - November 9th 2016

Lake Tahoe is a massively popular summer destination, but as a winter escape, it's perfect if you want to avoid the beach crowds-- an absolutely enchanting winter wonderland. As one of America's deepest lakes, Tahoe looks stunning in winter, and there's so much to do around the lake, from Nordic and alpine skiing, to winter hikes and snowshoeing. Here's your guide to having a mesmerizing winter escape around Lake Tahoe.

Photo Credit: Flickr/slig@flickr

Mt. Rose Scenic Lookout

Just four miles outside of Incline Village, Nevada, is the Mount Rose Scenic Lookout, which provides an absolutely breathtaking view of North Lake Tahoe. It's really one of the best views of the lake. Located at Nevada Highway 431, at an impressive elevation of over 7,500 feet, this is also one of the best best photo ops of the alpine lake, especially in winter, when it's surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks. Even the drive up to the lookout offers lovely views, and it'll be a lot more relaxing if you've got your car outfitted with proper snow tires! Once you've reached the lookout, there's an information kiosk at the overlook that provides the names of the surrounding mountains and nearby attractions. Incline Village also has a fantastic Mark Twain Cultural Center to visit. Twain was thoroughly inspired by his visit to Lake Tahoe.

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Incline Village, NV

One of the premiere destinations along Lake Tahoe is definitely Sand Harbor. During summer, it's full of tourists and locals, lounging on the warm sandy beach or swimming in the crystal clear alpine waters. But in winter it's an entirely different experience. This quiet cove is the perfect spot for a brisk winter walk along the beach, and just because it's winter doesn't mean boating is off the table. Depending on weather, you can still rent a boat on weekends, October through April, from 6AM to 2PM. Head to Sand Harbor Visitor Center for maps, and to learn about the area's trails and picnic places.

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Bonsai Rock

Located on Lake Tahoe's east side, just a mile south of Sand Harbor (look for an unmarked pullout), Bonsai Rock is a great photo op. This boulder in the lake has miniature trees growing from it, and because it's so close to the shore, it's pretty easy to get an amazing shot. It's particularly beautiful to capture at sunrise or sunset. When visiting in winter, there will likely be a dusting of snow on top, which will make it sparkle as the sun's rays hit. Photo tip: Long exposure photography makes for a particularly phenomenal photo. From the road, just walk towards the beach and you'll find a steep, sandy trail. From there, it's just a five-minute walk. During summer time, it's a very popular spot for photos, but in winter, it's much less crowded, but just as beautiful.

Photo Credit: Flickr/Trevor Bexon

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Cave Rock

Just off Highway 50, about 13 miles south from Sand Harbor Beach, is a three-million-year-old, geological wonder, Cave Rock. Located on Lake Tahoe's southeastern shore, this cave is more than just an interesting photo opportunity, it actually holds great sacred significance to the Washoe Native Americans, who sometimes refer to it as "the Lady of the Lake." It's just a short 15-minute hike off Cave Rock Drive. The views from Cave Rock across the lake are incredible, and the views of the rock formation are amazing.

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Zephyr Cove, NV

Logan Shoals Vista is another gorgeous scenic overlook along the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. Just off Highway 50, South of Cave Rock, it's a short hike near Glenbrook and Zephyr Cove. The hike is definitely worthwhile for its panoramic vista, plus it's accessible year-round, and in winter it's much less crowded.

Latin Soul Restaurant

After a day of scenic driving around the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, pull into the Lakeside Inn and Casino at Stateline, Nevada, for a hearty meal at their Latin Soul Restaurant, or a much-deserved cocktail while overlooking the lake.

Winter may not seem like an ideal time for a weekend scenic drive, but with the help of Discount Tire, you can get your tires inspected for free to make sure they are up to the task. Plus, depending on your destination, a winter scenic drive can provide unique opportunities to see the same scenic overlooks and roadside wonders you visit in summer, but set against a stunning winter wonderland backdrop. This is why road trips along the Sierra Nevada mountain range, especially through South Lake Tahoe, are perfect weekend winter escapes.

Discount Tire

Discount Tire—With over 900 neighborhood stores across the nation, no matter where your adventure leads you, Discount Tire is there to help you along the way. Whether you’re passing through Taos or finding yourself in Northern Door, you can count on Discount Tire for friendly, safe service.