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The Most Beautiful Drive in America: Lake Tahoe's 72-Mile Shoreline Guide

The Most Beautiful Drive in America explores the natural and man-made wonders in the Lake Tahoe Basin.  Located on the California-Nevada border, Lake Tahoe is an absolute treasure, with its sparkling blue waters, phenomenal mountain scenery and endless recreation options.  


At 22 miles long and 12 miles wide, Lake Tahoe is North America’s largest alpine lake at 6,225 feet above sea level and contains enough water to cover the entire state of California to a depth of 14 inches. The water is so pure and clear (99 percent pure), a white dinner plate can be seen to a depth of 70 feet.  

Photo Courtesy of Lake Tahoe Visitor's Bureau

The Most Beautiful Drive in America
This route, shown in the map below after the list, starts at Stateline, Nevada traveling west on Highway 50 towards Emerald Bay, but you can begin your travels at any point along the 72-mile (not including side trips) route around the lake.  There is no right or wrong way to enjoy this scenic road trip around Lake Tahoe!

From Stateline, Nevada travel west on Highway 50 

 Highway 89 north between Tahoe City and Truckee

  • 10. Squaw Valley USA Site of 1960 Winter Olympics. Olympic Museum, skiing, cable car, swimming, ice-skating, bungee jumping, lodging, restaurants.
  • 11. Donner Memorial State Park Historic Donner Party Museum. Exhibits, nature trails, picnic grounds. Donner Lake recreation area nearby.
  • 12. Truckee Historic railroad town with unique shops, restaurants.

At Tahoe City, follow Highway 28 east

  • 13. Watson Cabin Living Museum with circa 1900 furnishings. 
  • 14. Historic Fish Hatchery and UC Davis Education Center includes information about former operations and ongoing research.
  • 15. Kings Beach Pier, beach, paddleboat rentals, dining, shops.
  • 16. Crystal Bay North shore casinos. Chief Joseph sculpture outside the Cal Neva Resort, once owned by Frank Sinatra.

Return to Highway 28 East
  • 19. Tahoe Science Center Hands-on and virtual exhibits about the Lake Tahoe ecosystem. For hours and tour information: 775-881-7566.
  • 20. Memorial Point Incredible views, walking trail, restrooms.
  • 21. Sand Harbor Spectacular sandy beaches, outdoor amphitheater (home of the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival), picnic area, restaurant, State Park Information Center (fee).

From Highway 28, take Highway 50 South
  • 22. Spooner Lake Lake loop trail, other hiking trails, picnic areas.
  • 23. Cave Rock Vista Point Sacred site of the native Washoe Indians. Short climb to great views. 
  • 24. Zephyr Cove Lodge, restaurant, beach, park, paddle wheeler cruises, RV park, horseback riding, sailing cruises.
Photo Courtesy of Lake Tahoe Visitor's Bureau

For more great information, be sure to check out the Lake Tahoe Visitor's Bureau website.

Have you driven around Lake Tahoe?
The road trip is a classic summer pastime around the world, and, this year, its popularity is on the rise as more and more travelers crave post-quarantine getaways that still heed proper physical & social-distancing guidelines.  No matter where you live, there’s likely a scenic drive nearby, be it a forest-lined highway or a sunny, shore-hugging route. 

This route is perfect for a relaxing mountain getaway where you can go hiking, take a dip in the lake and enjoy all of the amazing scenery of Lake Tahoe.   



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