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Lake Tahoe Is Facing an Influx of Visitors and It’s a Major Issue; ‘I Can’t Enjoy My Beaches Anymore’

Source: Andy Barron

Lake Tahoe got itself into a bit of a pickle when a famous travel guide dubbed it a no-go destination for this year. It seems the tourists are wreaking havoc on its delicate ecosystem.

The pandemic brought a swarm of visitors and new residents to the area, and now the locals are saying they’re facing the reality of overcrowding. “Fodor’s No List 2023” gave them a nudge to make some much-needed changes. 

“This overcrowding is a real bummer,” sighed Susan Daniels, a 70-year-old local from Kings Beach. She’s been living there all her life, and her folks even met at a Tahoe ski resort area back in ’52. Now she’s saying she can’t even enjoy her own beaches anymore, especially Sand Harbor, which is one of her favorites.

Ever since Fodor said, “Lake Tahoe has a people problem,” this past year, some folks started taking action in the form of slapping taxes or fees on motorists.

On top of that, local businesses and tourism honchos are teaming up to promote the lesser-known parts of the lake. The goal here is to keep the local economy, worth a whopping $5 billion, thriving without wrecking the environment or communities. 

Fun fact — Lake Tahoe’s about a third of the size of Yosemite, yet gets three times more visitors each year!

Carol Chaplin with Lake Tahoe Visitor’s Authority, said: “We have to shift from simply promoting tourism to actually managing it.”

The Lake Tahoe Destination Stewardship’s 143-page plan was revealed last week with goals to sustainably preserve the beautiful lake and its 72-mile shoreline. Conservationists are also keen on easing the traffic to limit crowded parking and air pollution.

However, Lake Tahoe does not want to build gates to keep people out, so figuring out a way to balance it all is the name of the game!

Even so, locals say that the traffic’s getting so bad that they’re thinking about bringing in “roadway pricing” to encourage folks to use public transit instead. It won’t be a cakewalk, though, as there are many different groups involved, including two states, five counties, the Forest Service, the Coast Guard, and more.

Hawaii’s been dealing with similar issues, trying to figure out how to handle tourists while protecting their natural spots.

Some suggestions include getting tourists to come during less busy times and showing them hidden gems they’ve never seen before. Tahoe has a lot to offer, from Spooner Lake’s trails and lakes to over 200,000 acres of land.

Of course, not everyone’s convinced tourists will ditch their usual spots. 

Some think maybe charging motorists a fee could do the trick, as “if it hits ’em in the wallet, they might think twice about it.” So far, though, not many have taken the travel guide’s advice to give Lake Tahoe a break and let it heal.

Hotel occupancy is still on the rise and was up 12% during the ski season this past year.


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