Accessible Recreation Sites
The agencies managing public lands in the Tahoe Basin have made concerted efforts to provide access to all visitors, and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit is continuously progressing to upgrade facilities to meet universal access requirements.
Although some activities and facilities provide limited access to those with disabilities, we hope that by describing the following access information, you will be able to make an informed decision about which sites will be the most worthwhile for you to visit. Several sites are managed by the Forest Service, while others are managed by other government agencies.
This page is intended to provide only an overview of a few areas; please call our office at (530) 543-2600 or the contact number for the site that you are interested in for more detailed information.
Recreation and Historic Sites
The Taylor Creek Visitor Center provides many opportunities for visitors to experience the essence of the natural world at Lake Tahoe. All facilities at the Visitor Center are accessible, including the Rainbow Trail, Stream Profile Chamber, and restrooms. In addition, audiotape tours of the area are available at no charge at the Visitor Center.
The Taylor Creek Visitor Center summer operations begin on Memorial Day weekend. The Visitor Center and the restrooms are open weekends only from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., from Memorial Day to mid-June and daily beginning mid-June thru September 30 from 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. During the month of October, the Visitor Center is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Stream Profile Chamber, located 1/4 mile down the Rainbow Trail, provides a view of the stream environment allowing visitors to study a diverted section of Taylor Creek through a panel of aquarium-like windows. The Stream Profile Chamber is open daily beginning Memorial Day weekend from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and beginning mid-June thru September 30 from 8:00 a.m. until 5 p.m. During the month of October, the Stream Profile Chamber is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Taylor Creek Visitor Center also houses the Lake of the Sky Amphitheater, which hosts programs, activities and events throughout the summer and early fall.
See the section on trails for more information on accessible trails at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center.
The Visitor Center is located 3 miles north of South Lake Tahoe, California, on the lake side of Highway 89. It is past the Tallac Historic Site and the turn off for Fallen Leaf Lake. Visit the Taylor Creek Visitor Center, Tallac Historic Site and the Stream Profile Chamber web pages for more information.
A century ago, what is now the Tallac Historic Site held the "Grandest Resort in the World" and the summer retreats for three of the San Francisco Bay area's socially elite families. Today the remains of the resort and the restored estates attract many thousands of visitors annually to recapture this bygone and significant era in Tahoe's history. Many paths and most buildings, including the Baldwin Museum, Valhalla (Heller Estate), and the Boathouse Theater, are accessible. In order to preserve the historic features of the Pope House, the accessible entrance is by a limited access ramp. Please call (530) 541-5227 in advance to enter by the ramp. A video tour of the Pope House also is available at the Baldwin Museum. The site is located 2.5 miles north of South Lake Tahoe on Highway 89; follow signs for parking. Open seasonally.
Inspiration Point (Emerald Bay)
600 feet above Lake Tahoe, Inspiration Point provides the perfect overlook for all of Emerald Bay, the boats, Vikingsholm, and Fanette Island. Interpretive signs assist in understanding the history of the area. All views are accessible via paved walkways, and the restrooms are accessible, too. Parking can be difficult during busy summer months especially between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Please park legally, not along Highway 89.
Eagle Falls Picnic Area (Emerald Bay)
This picnic area includes picnic tables, boardwalks, and a recently constructed restroom that is fully accessible. There is a day-use fee of $5.00.
Vikingsholm (Emerald Bay)
Vikingsholm is a magnificent summer "castle" owned by Mrs. Lora Knight that was completed in 1929. Mrs. Knight enjoyed 15 summers at Vikingsholm with her staff of 15 and many guests.
A one-mile, very steep, paved trail leads from the parking lot to Vikingsholm. There is a day-use fee of $10. California State Parks offers those with limited mobility the opportunity to ride to the site. Please call (530) 525-9530 for details and advance reservations; space is limited.
Tours of Vikingsholm are available seven days a week from mid-June until the end of September, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All tours are guided tours and take approximately one-half hour. The tour fee is $10 for adults and $8 for youths 7 to 17, children under 7 are free. Visit the Vikingsholm web page for more information.
The Gatekeeper's Museum in Tahoe City is a reconstruction of the original Gatekeeper's Cabin - home of the water master who controlled the flow of water out of Lake Tahoe. It now showcases Tahoe history, from its Native inhabitants through the logging era and the establishment of the tourism industry at Lake Tahoe. The museum has a ramp, and most exhibits are accessible. The plaza outside the museum is a beautiful open area. Visit the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society web page on the Gatekeeper's Museum web site for more information.
Spooner Lake is halfway between Incline Village and South Lake Tahoe, on the east shore of Lake Tahoe. There is a paved trail to shaded accessible picnic areas and restrooms. There is a parking fee.
This new multi-agency Visitor Center at the base of the Heavenly Gondola (see below), offers an introduction to the Tahoe Basin. The exhibits, parking and restrooms are accessible. Explore Tahoe is located at 4114 Lake Tahoe Blvd. (Highway 50) in South Lake Tahoe. You may contact them by telephone at (530) 542-2908.
Located one-half block west of Stateline, the Gondola's eight-passenger cabins take guests 2.4 miles up the mountain in 12 minutes while they enjoy views of Lake Tahoe. Attendants will stop the gondola car to give additional time to those who use wheelchairs to board.
The first stop is at the 14,000 square foot mid-station observation platform. Located at 9,123 feet, guests are treated to views of the Carson Valley, Desolation Wilderness and shore-to-shore views of Lake Tahoe. Guests then re-board the gondola to continue up the mountain. There is an elevator from the second station to ground level, and paved paths to the café and restrooms. From the top, the gondola travels nonstop back to Stateline. Open seasonally.
There are several places to take in the area's spectacular views. Most of the following locations provide parking lots or turnouts where you can enjoy the scenery without leaving your vehicle, and Logan Shoals has a paved trail to a nice overlook.
There are several turnouts along Highway 89, south of Tahoe City, that are adjacent to Lake Tahoe.
Truckee River Bike Path
This section of the beautiful Truckee River is adjacent to Highway 89 just north of Tahoe City, and it is accessible via the bike path. Be aware the path is frequently very busy with bike riders.
Secret Harbor Vista
This vista point and parking lot has a great view and restrooms.
Logan Shoals Vista Point
Also on the east shore, this vista point has parking on the road's shoulder, restrooms, and a paved path to the overlook.
Cave Rock Parking Area
Located on the east shore, this popular boat launching and picnic area allows you to see virtually the entire lake from your car. There is a parking fee.
Some beach parking areas are closed in the off-season to protect resources.
Zephyr Cove Beach provides accessible paved parking and restrooms. There is a parking fee.
William Kent Beach and Kaspian Picnic Area
These areas provide lakeside picnicking and beautiful views of Lake Tahoe. Access is provided via either hard dirt trails or the paved bike trail, and there are accessible restrooms.
The Sand Point Nature Trail (1/3 mile long) is a boardwalk with interpretive signs and breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe. Facilities at this Nevada State Park include sandy beaches, a boat launch, and picnicking and group use facilities, as well as a recently constructed visitor's center. The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival takes place during July and August, with accessible seating and assisted listening devices for the hearing impaired. Sand Harbor is located three miles south of Incline Village on State Route 28. There is a parking fee.
Nevada Beach is a long, wide sandy beach with several accessible picnic tables on a paved sidewalk. The beach is 5 miles north of South Lake Tahoe. Take Highway 50 north from the Stateline area, then turn left onto Elks Point Road. The entrance is 1 mile from the intersection. There is a parking fee.
Taylor Creek Visitor Center Nature Trails
The Rainbow Trail is a 1/2 mile paved loop that winds from the Visitor Center through the meadow to Taylor Creek and the Stream Profile Chamber.
The following three trails could be classified as "easy walking" as they are level, well-packed dirt trails:
- The Tallac Historic Site Trail is a level, dirt trail that connects the natural history interpretive area at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center with the cultural history interpretive areas of the Tallac Historic Site.
- The Lake of the Sky Trail leads from the Visitor Center to the sandy beach at the edge of Lake Tahoe; it is a level, dirt trail.
- Smokey's Trail is a short dirt trail near the Taylor Creek Visitor Center.
This 1.3-mile interpretive trail begins at the edge of a lush alpine meadow, leading you over wooden footbridges and along a well-marked and level trail, making a circle of the meadow and bringing you back to the beginning point. The many informative signs make this a great hike for children and others new to outdoor experiences in the high desert mountains. Parking spaces may be limited on weekends.
Tahoe Meadows, which is a section of the Tahoe Rim Trail, is located 1/2 mile southwest of Mt. Rose Summit on Highway 431. There is paved parking and vault toilets. Trail begins at lower parking lot. The trail is open by mid-July until the first snowfall in the fall (usually October). Bikes and horses are not allowed; this interpretive trail is designed to be a comfortable experience for people of all ages and abilities. Visit the Tahoe Rim Trail web page for more information.
Stateline to Stateline Path
The Stateline to Stateline Path is the first section of a trail planned to run from the southern NV/CA border to the northern border. Beginning at Kahle Drive and Highway 50, the 2-mile long (one way) paved patth passes through Rabe Meadow, crosses Burke Creek over a boardwalk and continues to Nevada Beach (see above).
From Nevada Beach, the path winds through the forest and provides access to Round Hill Pines Beach Resort.
The parking lot at Kahle Drive and Highway 50 provides accessible restrooms.
There are many campgrounds around the lake; some of which are accessible, others have individual sites that are level and have packed dirt surfaces. Please call managers of individual campgrounds for specific information. Visit the Camping web pages for contact information.
Valhalla Pier is accessible for fishing and is located at the Tallac Historic Site on Highway 89, 3 miles north of South Lake Tahoe.
The Carson River accessible fishing site is a multi-agency site with a paved 1/4 mile walk along the river and an accessible pier. The multi-agency site is located south of the Lake Tahoe Basin in Hope Valley at Pickett's Junction (Highways 89 & 88).
Interagency Access Pass
The Interagency Access Pass is a free pass available to citizens and permanent residents of the United States who are blind or have a permanent disability. They are available at most national forest or grassland offices. Visit the Forest Service Interagency Pass home page for more information.
Benefits of the Interagency Access Pass:
- Honored nationwide at all Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service sites charging entrance or standard amenity fees.
- Valid for pass holder's lifetime.
- Admits pass holder and any accompanying passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle.
- At per person fee areas, admits pass holder and up to three persons. Persons 15 and younger are admitted free of charge.
- 50% discount on some expanded amenity fees like campgrounds (does not include hookups for water/sewer/electricity), highly developed boat launches and swimming sites and specialized interpretive services.
State Discount Passes
Fishing is permitted anywhere on Lake Tahoe with either a California or Nevada fishing license.
The California Department of Fish and Game offers free fishing licenses to eligible persons who are permanently disabled. Proof of eligibility is required. Visit the State of California - Sport Fishing Regulations web page for more information.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife offers a reduced-rate fishing license to those persons who have a severe physical disability. Proof of eligibility is required. Visit the Nevada Department of Wildlife - Fish Nevada web page for more information.
California Park Use Discount Pass
Permanently disabled persons may purchase a discount card for $3.50 from the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The pass provides year-round 50% discount for use of all basic facilities (including parking and camping) in State-operated parks except Hearst San Simeon State Historic Monument. Visit the California State Parks pass information web page for more information.