Fall is one of the most beautiful times of year in Lake Tahoe—the air is crisp and clear, and the views are simply stunning. If you're planning a trip to see the fall colors, here's everything you need to know about where to stay, when to visit, and what to do while you're there.
If you're looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and experience some of the best fall colors in the country, Lake Tahoe is the perfect place for you. Here's everything you need to know about finding the best fall colors in Lake Tahoe. From beautiful resorts to day hikes, I've got you covered.
Where to Stay
There are plenty of great places to stay in Lake Tahoe, no matter what your budget is. If you're looking for a luxurious experience, the Resort at Squaw Creek is a great option. Located in the stunning Olympic Valley, this resort offers stunning views of the mountains and beautiful displays of fall color on the resort. Plus, you might even plan it around their annual Oktoberfest, which started in 2022! Or, if you're looking for something a bit more adventurous, the Wylder Resort in Hope Valley is a fantastic option.
West Shore/Olympic Valley:
When to Visit
The best time to see fall colors in Lake Tahoe is typically early to mid October. This is when the leaves of the aspen and cottonwood trees begin to change color. From my experience, the peak time for viewing fall colors is usually around the second week of October. However, since weather conditions can vary from year to year, it's always a good idea to check the Fall colors map before planning your trip. That way, you can be sure to catch the peak of the season. If you go late in the season, you may even get to witness some "snow-liage", a phenomenon where snow comes early in the fall season and leaves a dusting of snow on the fall foliage.
Where to Explore Fall Colors in Tahoe
There are many great spots for seeing fall colors in Lake Tahoe. We make an effort to drive up each year to see the fall colors in Tahoe, and our favorite fall stop along the way is Apple Hill. If you get the chance to stop along alone the way these are perfect spots for fall activities, and treats in Apple Hill. Once you are in Tahoe, Hope Valley and Page Meadows are two of the best places to see vibrant fall foliage. Hiking is one of the best ways to experience the stunning fall foliage, and there are plenty of great trails to choose from.
One of my favorite places to go in the fall is Hope Valley. The colors are incredible, and it's one of the earliest spots to find fall colors due to its elevation. We loved staying at the Wylder Hotel, although you can go for just the day by grabbing lunch at Sorenson's Cafe which is on site. The resort has rustic cabins that are cozy and perfect for a fall getaway. The aspens trees are just gorgeous, and the general area along Hwy 88 is very picturesque.
If you are a photographer, you must stop off take some pictures of the iconic Hope Valley cabin, also named the "Red Lake Creek Cabin." It can be hard to find on maps, but you can use these coordinates to find it off Hwy 88. You can't physically access the cabin but you can take gorgeous shots from the road side, which displays beautiful fall colors behind the picturesque cabin.
Page Meadows is an amazing spot to witness fall foliage. It is a little less crowded than the popular Hope Valley, plus the trails are dog friendly! The fall colors tend display deeper orange and red hues which is stunning. The trails are not clearly marked but you can expect to make a 3.5 mile loop or out and back trail if you park on Silver Tip Drive. Page Meadows is referred to as both Paige or Page Meadows. It is a beautiful spot for a hike any time of year but especially in the fall when the leaves are changing color.
Luther Pass is a beautiful mountain pass located between Meyers and Hope Valley along Highway 89. This area is well-known for its stunning fall foliage, and it's a favorite spot of many professional photographers. If you're looking to get off the beaten path, park at the Big Meadow Trailhead and hike part of the Tahoe Rim Trail. Luther Pass is truly a hidden gem, and it's the perfect place to enjoy the autumn season.
Mount Rose Wilderness
Mount Rose is one of the best places to see fall colors in North Lake Tahoe. The Mount Rose Wilderness Area is home to a variety of trees, including aspens, maples, and oaks. In autumn, these trees put on a stunning display of color, making Mount Rose a popular destination for leaf peepers.
Fallen Leaf Lake
Fallen Leaf Lake is a small lake located south of Emerald Bay. It's a popular spot for hiking, camping, kayaking and fishing. In the fall, the trees that line the shores of the lake turn a stunning shade of red, making it an ideal spot for leaf peeping.
Sand Harbor is a public beach located on the east shore of Lake Tahoe. It's a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking in the summer months. come fall, the beach is still beautiful with its golden sand and clear blue water. Some of the trees that surround the beach also turn color, making it a scenic place to take in the fall foliage.
Tips for Taking Fall Photos
If you're planning on taking photos of the fall colors during your trip, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, try to avoid shooting directly into the sun. Doing so will cause harsh shadows and make it difficult to see the colors of the leaves. Instead, position yourself so that the sun is at your back. Second, pay attention to your composition—look for interesting foreground elements that will add depth and dimensionality to your photos. Try framing your shots with branches or leaves for an added touch of autumnal beauty. And finally, don't forget about lighting! Early morning and late evening light tends to be softer and more flattering than midday sun, so plan accordingly.
So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and head on up—you won't regret it!