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Everything you need to know about Lake Tahoe

Lakes of Nevada

North America is not exactly short on areas of natural beauty. Even by the U.S.’s high standards, though, there can be little denying that the glorious Lake Tahoe is among the nation’s most jaw-droppingly beautiful locations. There is much more to the lake than just the views it offers, however, and our list of Lake Tahoe facts will make sure you have all the knowledge you need prior to visiting this most stunning of destinations.

Only the ‘Great Lakes’ are larger in the U.S.

Even though it is not classified as one of the five North American ‘Great Lakes’, Lake Tahoe is still an impressive size. The sixth largest lake in the country by volume, behind only the Great Lakes, it is also the second deepest at 501 metres (in case you were wondering, it is pipped to the number one spot by Oregon’s Crater Lake).

Lake Tahoe is 22 miles long, 12 miles wide (at its widest point) and measures 72 miles in circumference, meaning it is certainly big enough to handle the many visitors who flock to its shores throughout the year.

It’s over two million years old

We know you won’t be booking your Lake Tahoe holidays based on how old it is, but the facts surrounding its age are still pretty interesting! Amazingly, Lake Tahoe is thought to be over two million years old, which means it ranks among the 20 oldest bodies of water of its kind in the world.

It was a filming location for The Godfather Part II

If you think Lake Tahoe looks so beautiful that it could have been the setting for a Hollywood film - you’d be right! In 1974, the lakeside estate known as Fleur de Lac was used extensively in the filming of the critically-acclaimed sequel to The Godfather.

Some of the most famous scenes the lake features in include the assassination attempt on the lead character, Michael (played by Al Pacino) and the death of Fredo, Michael’s brother. These days, the picturesque estate in which the filming took place has been divided up into a private gated community, although several buildings that were part of the ‘Corleone compound’ still stand.

It spans two states

Lake Tahoe spans two states, Nevada and California, meaning it is a popular choice both with people taking Las Vegas holidays and San Francisco holidays. Potential visitors should note, however, that both Nevada and California are huge states (ranked seventh and third in the U.S. by area respectively) and, as such, anyone who wants to spend a day or more at Lake Tahoe should plan thoroughly beforehand to ensure they have enough time.

It’s a popular spot for casinos

Nevada’s most populous city is Las Vegas, which, of course, is considered the gambling capital of the world. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Lake Tahoe is also home to several world-class casinos.

Perhaps the most famous, the Cal Neva Resort & Casino, was opened in 1926, five years before gambling was legalised in the state! Owned at one point by Frank Sinatra (who also hosted illustrious guests such as Marilyn Monroe there), the casino has changed hands many times over the decades; although currently closed, it was recently saved from bankruptcy by businessman Larry Ellison, who locals hope will give the site a new lease of life.

It gets 274 days of sunshine each year

If you are planning on taking a holiday in the area soon, this may be one of the Lake Tahoe facts you are most keen on finding out about. Happily, if you are a sunseeker, we have good news to report: in an average year, the sun will shine at Lake Tahoe for 274 days – that’s three quarters of the time!

As previously mentioned, the area surrounding the lake is also usually a pleasant temperature in the summer months which, combined with the vast amounts of sunshine there, makes it pretty much the perfect place to relax for a week or two.

It’s a haven for mountain biking and hiking

When it comes to mountain biking, there are few places in the U.S. that can come close to the amazing variety and landscape offered by the land surrounding Lake Tahoe. In fact, Mountain Biking Magazine lists the Flume Trail on the eastern shore of the lake as one of the country’s top 10 mountain biking trails.

Hiking and wilderness camping are both also popular pursuits that can be enjoyed around the lake, with the size and diversity of the area meaning that all ability levels are catered for, from beginners to experts. The Tahoe Rim Trail that circumnavigates the lake is its most famous and attracts thousands of locals and visitors each year.

It contains 39 trillion gallons of water

It may not be the most practically useful of Lake Tahoe facts, but we simply had to include this extraordinary statistic as part of our guide to the area. It is thought that Lake Tahoe is made up of – wait for it – 39 trillion gallons of water.

To give some context to this mindboggling fact, this means that the water in Lake Tahoe could provide every single person in the U.S. with water for five years – at a rate of 50 gallons per day!

Its mountains get 600 inches of snow every winter

Of course, we cannot forget that, during the colder months, Lake Tahoe takes on a very different complexion and becomes a haven for winter sports enthusiasts. For skiers, the question of how much snowfall the area gets is the most important of all Lake Tahoe facts.

Whilst the summers are always warm at Tahoe, the winters are equally cold. The lake itself never freezes (despite an average of 125 inches of snow falling there), but the mountains that overlook it can be relied upon to provide perfect skiing and snowboarding conditions every single year, with an average annual snowfall of 600 inches.

It’s one of the purest lakes in the world

From an ecological point of view, all our previous Lake Tahoe facts pale into comparison next to this one.

Fortunately, Tahoe once again measures up well compared to almost every other North American lake, recording a water purity rate of 99.994% (compared to 99.998% for drinking water bottled and sold commercially). This is a very impressive stat for a body of water as large and popular as Lake Tahoe, and it is recognised as one of the purest in the world.


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