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Memorial Day vacation and recreation at Lake Tahoe | Need to know

Vacationers should stay updated on different COVID-19 safety protocols in place, especially since the lake falls in two different states — California and Nevada

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — With Memorial Day approaching, there may be an influx of travelers to Lake Tahoe this weekend. 

It's going to be a warm holiday weekend, so visitors will want to get in the water. Swimmers should be aware that the water may still be cold, which can be dangerous

However, Carol Chaplin, President & CEO of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, says the lake is sport and swim-ready.

"Water levels reflect a lighter snow year/pack, but Lake Tahoe is gearing up for beach enjoyment and water sports and activities," Chaplin said. 

Vacationers should also be aware of the different COVID-19 safety protocols in place, especially since the lake falls in two different states — California and Nevada.

"Our business levels continue to increase and our businesses continue to ramp up service and product levels," Chaplin said. "It should be busy this weekend so we recommend visitors allowing extra time for travel, activities and restaurants."

Knowing what the rules are before you go can help save some stress.  

"We have had a real balancing act here. Because restaurants on this side have been limited to 50% occupancy, and mask restrictions," said South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tamara Wallace. "Yet you go across the state line and those restrictions have been completely different."

For the California side of things, Lake Tahoe falls in El Dorado County, which is currently in the orange tier. 

Hotels and other lodging options are open with modifications, with fitness centers open at 25% capacity. Indoor pools can open, but indoor hot tubs, saunas, and steam rooms must remain closed.

Shopping centers, retail stores and restaurants can open at 50% capacity indoors, while wineries, breweries and distilleries can open at 25% capacity indoors. 

The Nevada side of the Lake has slightly different COVID modifications. For one, restaurants, bars, pubs, wineries, distilleries and breweries can all open indoors with 50% maximum seating capacity. Outdoor dining does not have a cap on capacity, and lodging is open with some modifications. 

Plus, on June 1, the day after Memorial Day, Nevada is lifting all restrictions, including dining capacity. California is expected to make those same changes to its COVID-19 protocols, but not until June 15. 

In addition to dozens of beaches, restaurants and other activities, the majority of National Forest sites around the Tahoe Basin are now open for the 2021 season. 

According to a press release from the USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU), there have been several important changes for 2021 to these forests. 

For one, the primary use of Blackwood Canyon Campground at Bayview has been changed from a campground to a trailhead and picnic area. $10 day-use fees have also been added at Bayview Picnic Area and Trailhead, Inspiration Point Vista and the Moraine Trailhead located in Fallen Leaf Campground.

Here are several other recommendations for travelers heading to the Lake Tahoe region:  

  • Have back up plans in case beach, trailheads, etc. are full.
  • Consider arriving to the beach/trails early morning or late-afternoon.
  • Secure reservations, especially for lodging as well as at dining establishments that have advance reservations.
  • Dine at off-peak meal times.
  • Plan on wearing masks in public, which can then be removed based on businesses, activities as it may vary upon location. 
  • Check out the updated 'Tahoe Beaches' website for real-time information on the lake's 40 beaches. 
  • Download the South Lake Tahoe trip planning app

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