During the summer, Lake Tahoe is a very popular place for out of state and out of country visitors. But there are several places that skip the typical tourist radar. Most of these places do have people who visit them, but they are usually seasonal. These locations are either located directly at Lake Tahoe or are scattered around the Reno/Tahoe area.
The oldest running hotel in Nevada is located about 45 minutes from the Reno/Tahoe area. It’s located just below Virginia City in Gold Hill and that might be why it gets bypassed by most tourists. It’s a fun little getaway if you like local lore, history of the Wild West and the Comstock Lode and…ghosts. Yes, the Gold Hill Hotel is said to be haunted. If you stay in the old portion of the hotel you may have an encounter with “Rose” a Victorian era prostitute who is said to smell like roses or a man in a black hat named “William”. The Miner’s Lodge behind the hotel is also said to contain the ghosts of 37 miners who were killed in a fire in 1873. The crew of the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures got their start in this creepy, but cool place.
The hotel’s Crown Point Restaurant serves gourmet French food in a dining room with great views of the Virginia Range, the Gold Hill Saloon is wallpapered with personalized dollar bills and is a great place for a drink and a sit by the large fireplace and the Virginia and Truckee Railroad trip to and from Virginia City starts near the hotel.
Just a few miles from the Kirkwood ski area near the south shore of Lake Tahoe is a tiny little camping area and lake. Lake Kirkwood is tucked down in a valley with stunning views of the back part of the resort and wonderful little cabins and hiking trails. This part of the Mokelumne Wilderness is easily accessible from Highway 88, but because it is so small, the parking and camping spots can fill up quick.
This portion of Lake Tahoe in between Emerald Bay and D.L. Bliss State Park has some of the deepest, bluest water around. Imagine your bottle of blue mouthwash…that’s the color of the lake water in this rocky, rugged part of Tahoe. This area is really only accessible by kayak, canoe or another form of watercraft. Most larger boats can’t anchor here because of the depth, so if you launch from Lester Beach or Emerald Bay in a kayak or canoe, you will find this area nearly people-free. There are several large rocks to lounge on and jump from and some small beaches are to be found.
On Highway 88, about 30 minutes from South Lake Tahoe is the all season Sorenson’s Resort. This picturesque place has darling little cabins for rent, cute little bears made out of moss, firepits, a fishing pond, a beautiful garden and a coffee shop and bookstore. It has been discovered by visitors who drive this road to view the fall colors of the aspen trees that run rampant through this area. So the highway noise can get a bit loud. However, there are a few hiking and snowshoe trails around the resort where you can escape.
Because it can’t be seen from the main highway around the lake, Lester Beach is sometimes bypassed by the typical tourist. It is the largest beach in the D.L. Bliss State Park on the West Shore and has limited parking. Most of the people who are on the beach are staying in the nearby campground. On some summer weekends the beach can get crowded, but there are areas of rock where, if you get there early enough, you can stake out a place. The star of Lester Beach is the beautiful sandy beach that dips down into the water, turning it Caribbean blue. It’s a great swimming area for all ages.
For additional Lake Tahoe hidden gems, view the guide here.