Forest Service offers tips for safe recreation at Lake Tahoe

The waters of Lake Tahoe are chilly and those venturing into the water should be prepared.

The waters of Lake Tahoe are chilly and those venturing into the water should be prepared.
Bill Rozak | Tahoe Tribune


Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer. The USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit has provided links and safety tips to help ensure a safe Memorial Day weekend at Lake Tahoe.

“We anticipate a large influx of visitors to the Lake Tahoe Basin this Memorial Day weekend,” said Public Affairs Specialist, Lisa Herron. “Visitors should expect crowded roads, parking areas, trails, trailheads and recreation areas. To ensure an enjoyable weekend, plan ahead, know before your go, pack your patience, arrive early, and always recreate responsibly.”

Most National Forest beaches and campgrounds at Lake Tahoe opened in mid-May, but some backcountry campgrounds, recreation sites, forest gates and forest roads are still closed. Check opening dates on the LTBMU Recreation Conditions Report (scroll down) and be sure to reserve campsites in advance. Forest gates and forest roads and are in the process of opening. Check opening dates on the LTBMU Motor Vehicle Use Maps.

The Tallac Historic Site and Taylor Creek Visitor Center officially open on June 2, but the grounds are open. Until these sites fully open, some services such as restrooms and trash removal are unavailable so plan ahead and pack out all trash. Where pets are allowed, always clean up after them and be sure to pack out doggie bags. Until parking lots open, park vehicles off the roadway, avoid parking on vegetation, and do not block access gates.

Campfires, Charcoal and Fireworks

Residents and visitors should do their part to keep Tahoe wildfire ready. If you see something, say something by reporting illegal activity to 911 immediately. Learn how to get prepared, get informed and get involved at

National Forest lands at Lake Tahoe are under year-round fire restrictions. Wood and charcoal fires are only permitted within provided metal fire rings and grills in open, developed campgrounds. Unless restricted, propane stoves and appliances with on/off valves are allowed with a valid CA Campfire Permit.

All types of personal use fireworks are illegal in the Lake Tahoe Basin because of the wildfire danger they pose.


Lake Tahoe is bear country. Help keep Tahoe bears wild by properly securing food, garbage, and other scented items. Never approach bears or cubs, always keep your distance. Don’t feed bears or other wildlife, it’s illegal. Feeding wildlife encourages them enter human occupied areas to seek out human food and garbage and disturbs their natural feeding habits. Bear canisters are highly recommended in the backcountry. Visit for more helpful information.

Cold Water

Cold water shock is real and can be life-threatening. Visitors should exercise caution when swimming and participating in water activities at Lake Tahoe. Wearing a life jacket even if you’re a strong swimmer significantly increases your chance of survival. Visit these links to learn more about cold water safety and how to prevent cold water shock.

Caldor Fire Area

Recreationists should use caution when recreating in the 2021 Caldor Fire area. Burned landscapes present numerous safety hazards that either did not exist prior to the fire or have been worsened by the effects of the fire. Hikers and mountain bikers should be on the lookout for falling trees and limbs. Read more at

Leave No Trace

Trash and debris left behind can be harmful and even fatal to wildlife. It represents a human health hazard and degrades Lake Tahoe. Every year volunteers pick up thousands of pounds of trash left behind after holiday weekends. Plan ahead and bring a trash bag in case trash cans and dumpsters are full or not available. Become part of the solution. Pack out your own garbage. Learn more about Leave No Trace Principles at

Backcountry Safety

Backcountry enthusiasts should always tell a family member or friend where they are going, when they expect to return and stick to the plan. Always check the weather before heading out. Sturdy footwear, proper clothing and gear is essential, and an old-fashioned paper map and compass can come in handy. Always travel with a buddy, never alone. Keep in mind that mobile devices may not work in remote areas. Develop an emergency plan in case you cannot call for help.


Weather in the mountains can change rapidly. Summers are typically warm in the afternoon and cold at night. Afternoon thunderstorms are normal, and snow is possible during any month of the year. Be prepared for changeable weather and bring clothing that will keep you warm and dry. Always check the forecast before heading out and follow the National Weather Service on social media for the latest updates.

For more information on recreating responsibly, visit the Know Before You Go and Recreate Responsibly websites.


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