A version of this article previously appeared on ConsciousLivingTV.
There’s nothing like a getaway to Tahoe – the sunshine, fresh air, mountains, and the lake make it a top destination for conscious travelers.
A quick three-hour drive from San Francisco or ninety minutes from the Reno, Nevada airport, this jewel of the Sierra Nevadas offers something for travelers of all ages. If you’ve always wanted to visit, consider this your informal guide to some of the coziest eco-chic lodging, tasty conscious eats, and fun ways to hit the slopes–sustainably. What to pack? Warm, light layers that can be peeled off when temperatures rise, a yoga mat, and your favorite shades to soak in the best thing California has to offer – over 300 days a year of sunny blue skies.
Here’s what not to miss when you get there:
A visit to Tahoe would be incomplete without witnessing the marvel of its main attraction, one of the largest and deepest freshwater lakes in North America. Resting deep in the Sierra Nevadas between the California and Nevada borders, Lake Tahoe has a surface elevation of 6,225 feet, nearly 2,000 feet in depth and over 122,160,280 acre-feet, making it the largest Alpine lake in North America and second deepest in the United States – only sixth behind the five Great Lakes. More than 75% of the lake’s watershed is national forest land.
Equally awe-inspiring is the fact that modern Lake Tahoe was shaped and landscaped during the Ice Ages by scouring glaciers – two million years ago. Its name derived from the Washoe tribe of Native Americans who previously inhabited the area, calling it “dá’aw,” or “The Lake.”
Given the clarity and vastness of the lake and its idyllic location amid panoramic white-tipped mountains, adventure seekers travel to Tahoe year-round for every outdoor sport imaginable: hiking, canoeing, surfing (yes, there are waves!), and of course skiing and snowboarding. To keep this natural gem beautiful despite near nonstop activity, environmental conservation is paramount. Lucky for conscious travelers, there are tons of great ways to visit this magical destination with a light carbon footprint that won’t upset the Lake’s natural ecosystem.
Lake Tahoe’s South shore is a popular tourist lure due to its ubiquitous casinos and heavy party scene, but if you’re looking for a quieter, nature-centered getaway head straight to the North Shore. Just over the area’s Donner Pass (named for the infamous Donner Party) off Interstate 80, you’ll find a perfect location to set up camp: the Cedar House Sport Hotel, nestled in the quaint old town of Truckee. Only fifteen minutes’ drive from several major ski resorts and surrounded by acres of national forest and hiking trails, it stands out from other Tahoe hotels for its relaxed eco-luxurious vibe. Reforested cedar beams glow brightly both inside and outside the hotel, emanating a Western mountain style warmth that resonates throughout every corner of this meticulously designed property.
Passionate outdoor enthusiasts and owners Jeff and Patty Baird built the family-owned hotel in 2006 in accordance with eco-efficient LEED guidelines using unrefined recycled materials and a plush green roof. With a mission of “creating harmony to inspire authentic and positive connections to the natural world and one another”, this dog-friendly destination boasts numerous amenities, like comfy pillow top mattresses, combed Egyptian cotton robes, an outdoor hot tub and a car charging station for electric travelers. Enjoy a hearty meal before or after hitting the slopes at their pop-up restaurant and event space Stella, where the Cedar House hosts adventure retreats, custom weddings, and a robust breakfast buffet.
Just down the street, take a stroll through the historic streets of Truckee. There, you’ll find kitschy boutiques and some of the best dining in the area, which includes dozens of vegan, gluten-free, and healthy options for conscious omnivores.
For the past four years, climate change has ravaged California with drought, devastating countless Lake Tahoe ski resorts. This year, El Niño continues to dump snow long and hard, inspiring shredders from across the country to line up day and night for cracks at fresh powder.
When hitting the slopes in Tahoe, do your part to combat climate change and visit one of the area’s numerous eco-friendly ski resorts, like the massive Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, great for advanced skiers and families, or Boreal Mountain, a local hot spot ideal for snowboarders, beginners, and shorter day trips.
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
Up at Squaw Valley, you’ll quickly notice numerous environmental efforts in place, like resort-wide recycling, composting, energy efficiency and electric car charging stations, not to mention a great respect for protecting local animal species and their habitats. Situated on the North end of the lake near Truckee and home to the 1960 Winter Olympics, Squaw Valley recently merged with local favorite Alpine Meadows to create the area’s first mega resort – and was just voted best ski resort in North America. The resort hosts over 6000 acres of skiable terrain, including 270 trails, 42 lifts, and a whopping 450 inches of annual snowfall. While you’re there, take a ride on the Aerial Tram – like a large elevator in the sky – perfect for up close and personal views of ragged cliffs so unique they inspired Walt Disney’s Matterhorn. Up at High Camp, you’ll find some of the best mountain views of the lake, an Olympic ice skating rink, gorgeous green runs for beginners, fluffy powder bowls for the pros, and delicious farm to table cuisine at the Terrace Restaurant.
As part of its commitment to eliminate single-use plastic water bottles, Squaw Valley’s Drink Mountain Tap program saves nearly save 28,000 bottles from landfills each year. This is the first U.S. ski resort to adopt such a program; in ten years, the program will save nearly 300,000 plastic bottles and over eight metric tons of CO2 emissions.
Up on the mountain, we had a fun visit with Squaw Valley’s Risk Management and Environmental Supervisor, Kristyn Lingenfelter. Click here to listen to our interview up high on a gondola, where she shared more insight on Squaw’s far-reaching commitment to sustainability.
Read more about eco-chic adventures at Lake Tahoe at ConsciousLivingTV.
Have you been to Lake Tahoe? What are your favorite spots?
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