Lake Tahoe is nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the border of California and Nevada. This big lake is surrounded by two National Forests and a few State Parks, so the setting is as picturesque as can be! Many people only associate Lake Tahoe with the State Of California because the lakeside resorts are heavily promoted. When looking at a map it is easy to see that nearly half of this ancient body of water actually is on the Nevada side of the line and there are many points of interests to be found. The Nevada side of Lake Tahoe is managed as a State Park and wilderness area, so the natural beauty of this majestic landscape has been preserved.
Most folks in California and Nevada actually do look upon Lake Tahoe as being an entity of its own and the border lines on a map are relegated as being meaningless. People speak of this lake with great reverence and when it is talked about, everything around this lake seems to play a supporting role, simply because the sheer beauty of Lake Tahoe always has a way of stealing the show. Lake Tahoe boasts some of the most beautiful panoramic landscapes on earth and just thinking about this place has a way of making all other destinations seem to matter less. This is how powerful the Lake Tahoe influence can be!
When traveling on Highway 50 up and over the mountain pass from Carson City to Lake Tahoe, the road will end at the shoreline in the middle of the Lake Tahoe State Park. The Spooner Lake Wilderness Area is located in this section of the park, which offers unspoiled backcountry hiking in a deep Ponderosa Pine forest and Spooner Lake is the hidden gem. A little further downhill, the road zig zags down the mountain to the shoreline. There are only a few good Lake Tahoe overlooks along the way, but to be honest, the pine forest is so thick that the big lake can barely be seen. Being so close, yet not having any unobstructed views does add to the mystery and it increases the yearning to get down to the shoreline.
After finally arriving at the water’s edge, the majestic beauty of Lake Tahoe literally can leave a visitor speechless. The towering snow capped Sierra Nevada Mountains surround this big lake with dense pine forests and picturesque granite outcrops. The high elevation yields crystal clear blue skies with cotton candy clouds that drift just a short distance overhead. Much of the shoreline is composed of huge round granite boulders that add a dreamy fantasyland effect. There is no smog to interfere with the view and it is easy to see for miles across the water. In this respect, Lake Tahoe definitely is like paradise!
Lake Tahoe was formed during a recent ice age and many remnants from this period of time have been retained to this present day. The water clarity is superb and the blue color is noticeable even as close as five feet from the rocky shore. Lake Tahoe is nearly 3 miles deep and the water temperature in this deep abyss is icy cold. The combination of ice cold deep water and oxygen depletion results in geophysical anomalies that fascinate the scientific community. The weird anomalies found at Lake Tahoe also draw the paranormal investigators in.
Basically, any living organism that sinks to the bottom of Lake Tahoe will be preserved for all eternity. This fact spawns many tales of paranormal activity, like rumors of hordes of living zombies walking on the bottom of the lake. There are tales of well preserved corpses grabbing unsuspecting deepwater divers and not letting go of their victims, till they drown and become deepwater zombies themselves, which is a very scary thought indeed!
There actually is some substance to the paranormal rumors, but the deepwater zombie fantasy is not part of the reality of it all. Mummified ancient Native Americans have been brought up from the bottom of Lake Tahoe to the surface in the recent past. The bodies of Chinese slave laborers that were dumped in the lake over 100 years ago have been discovered too. Even a few cadavers that local mobsters disposed of back in the 1960s have been found on the bottom of Lake Tahoe. Because the oxygen depleted ice water preserved the mob victims like mummies, cold case crime scene investigators readily took notice.
Nobody knows for sure just how many preserved corpses lie on the bottom of Lake Tahoe. Because of advances in modern deepwater exploration technology, cameras show that there are plenty of preserved human bodies in the depths, so this does feed the Lake Tahoe underwater walking zombie rumor mill. Thoughts of this subject seem to naturally occur while staring into the blue water by the lakeside and this definitely adds to the mystique of this unique place.
When visiting the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe it is always good to keep in mind that the weather can change without warning. The Sierra Nevada Mountains can be very unforgiving and a good example of just how harsh the local weather conditions can be can be found in the old legendary story the Donner Dinner Party, which took place just a few miles north of this lake. During the spring and early summer seasons, blizzard conditions can occur in the high elevations even though the lakeside temperatures are 75ºF. I visited Lake Tahoe on one such day and the return trip over the mountain to Carson City was not easy to accomplish. At about 8,000 feet above sea level the sleet and snow was coming down thick and with no snow chains, my Dodge Hemi Challenger was sliding all over the road. Because the roads can be impassable during a brief late season blizzard, the underwater zombies in Lake Tahoe do have a way of keeping you captive whether you are willing or not!
Lake Tahoe is one of the top destinations for beating the extreme heat of summer in the west, so this is reason enough to get up and go! The mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe are also a winter sports paradise and many ski resorts can be found in this area. Most of the casino resorts are located near the California border, so the majority of the eastern side of the lake is a wilderness area that is easy on the eyes. The lakeside recreation areas in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park offer plenty of outdoor activities year round and endless panoramic views. Weird, mysterious, majestic and incomparably beautiful are all words that describe the Lake Tahoe experience, so be prepared to be thoroughly captivated upon arrival!
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