Lake Tahoe National Scenic Byway
- DesignationNational Scenic Byway (1996)
- Intrinsic QualitiesScenic
- Length28 miles
Lake Tahoe offers breathtaking views of the crystal clear lake, towering pine trees, and snow-capped mountains, earning it the title, "the most beautiful drive in America." Part of the Pony Express Trail and home to the historic sacred grounds of the Washoe Indians, Lake Tahoe offers something for everyone year-round.
Story of the Byway
Prepare to see Lake Tahoe’s stunning version of “East Side Story,” starring Nevada’s serene wonder in all her glory, on one of three National Scenic Byways in Nevada. A suggested starting place for this 28-mile stretch that skirts Lake Tahoe’s east shore is Stateline – a town internationally acclaimed for its entertainers, skiing and gambling – on the Nevada/California border. From Stateline, US 50 east takes you through a tunnel beneath Cave Rock, a prominent natural feature of the area, where the roadway travels through 25 yards of solid rock.
The second leg of this journey begins when you take a left on SR 28. Sand Harbor, three miles south of Incline Village, offers more views of Tahoe blue and the Sierra Nevada from an open beach area with group-use facilities. For more secluded peeks at the lake, stop at the Memorial Point or Hidden Beach lookout areas.
You might want to plan in advance for a visit of the historic site, Thunderbird Lodge, located south of Incline Village. The former estate of tycoon George Whittell features a 600-foot walk-through tunnel, but to see it must schedule a tour of the property. May through October are the preferred months, but special arrangements can be made. Water tours and wine dinners also are available through the lodge.
After your Whittell history lesson, you’ll want to check out the lakefront mansions in Incline Village, one of the United States’ richest zip codes. Many celebrities own homes in the area. Continuing west on SR 28, you’ll pass through Crystal Bay, home of Tahoe’s first casino, Cal Neva Resort, built in 1928. If you feel like you haven’t gotten enough of the lake, the road gets up close and personal to the water at the byway’s end.
Start the byway at the north end of Lake Tahoe in Crystal Bay on NV 28.
Go south for 13.2 miles, where the byway merges with US 50.
Continue going south on US 50 for 12 miles until you reach the town of Stateline, NV where the byway ends.
Points of Interest
Shops, restaurants, Heavenly Gondola.
Camp Richardson/Tallac Historic Sites
Miles of alpine beaches, restaurants, horseback riding, bike rentals. Historic mansions (summer).
Emerald Bay Lookout
Overlooking Emerald Bay, one of the most photographed places in the world. Trail to Vikingsholm Castle (summer).
Historic Stateline Fire Lookout
Trail to stunning views of Lake Tahoe.
Explore Lake Tahoe
Starting in Incline Village, your journey along this Byway will be jam packed even though it is only 35 miles in length. There are multiple beaches that are open for visitors and plenty more to offer in this small lake town. As you drive on the Byway along NV 28, stop by Sand Harbor State Park and Beach for even more ways to experience the beautiful Lake Tahoe. Continue on the road until you can transfer onto route 50 for the second half of the Byway.
Once on route 50, you will be greeted by Cave Rock State Park, which is one of the most significant geologic formations on the coast of Lake Tahoe. There are beaches surrounding this area with plenty of other recreational opportunities. There are water and jet ski rentals available here and many more options to help enjoy the Lake. You can then keep heading south until you reach Stateline. After you grab some food, you can head over to Mormon Station State Historic Park, where you can finish up your day taking in the beautiful park. If you want to experience the nightlife, there are multiple casinos located at this part of the Byway!
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