Fall Fish Festival

Animated Kokanee Salmon

October 5 & 6, 2019

The Fall Fish Festival focuses on a variety of fish species that live in Lake Tahoe and its rivers. In addition to the Kokanee, these species include the federally threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout and little-know smaller fish, such as speckled dace.

The visitor center is located three miles north of South Lake Tahoe on Highway 89. Join the fun and participate in this free family event which has become one of the most fascinating educational and wildlife viewing events in Northern California.

The festival encourages participation by children and their parents in a wide variety of educational and entertaining activities, that over the years has included:

  • Treasure Hunt
  • Fish Painting
  • Mascots - Lulu the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout and Sandy and Rocky Salmon
  • A visit from Smokey Bear!
  • Giant inflatable Lahontan Cutthtroat Trout - sponsored by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

What to Expect

Color photo of visitors as they view the red Kokanee Salmon within a few feet of their own feet along the creek bed of Taylor Creek, a 5-10 minute walk from the visitor center.


From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, visitors can learn about the natural wonders of Taylor Creek from Forest Service biologists, as they stroll along the accessible, ½ mile loop Rainbow Trail. This peaceful walk meanders through forests, meadows and marsh lands to the creek where the Kokanee salmon spawn within a few feet of your own feet. A close-up view of this natural event is available in the underground Stream Profile Chamber located along the Rainbow Trail path.



The weekend events feature children's activities, and educational and streamside programs. Not to be missed is the return of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's giant inflatable fish - the fish's tail serves as the gateway to fun activity stations for kids. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 40-foot inflatable fish.


Kokanee Trail Runs

Trail Runs on Sunday are sponsored by the Tahoe Mountain Milers. For information on the trail runs, visit http://www.tahoemtnmilers.org/kokanee-5k--10k--half-marathon.html.



The Fall Fish Fest is held at the U.S. Forest Service Visitor Center at Taylor Creek. The Visitor Center is is located 3 miles north of the "Y" in South Lake Tahoe. Take Highway 89 north past the Tallac Historic Site. Additional information about viewing the Kokanee salmon can also be obtained from the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. Please contact us for more information.

With the popularity of the Fall Fish Festival at the Visitor Center and the Octoberfest at Historic Camp Richardson Resort the parking lot at the Visitor Center fills quickly. Some free parking is available at Camp Richardson where visitors can walk back and forth between the Fall Fish Fest and Octoberfest. Visitors are encouraged to ride a bike along the bike path between Camp Richardson and the Visitor Center or take public transportation from South Lake Tahoe. 


Class Visits and Field Trips

The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit offers field trips to see the Kokanee salmon at Taylor Creek.

  • Educators may call the Taylor Creek Visitor Center (530) 543-2674, beginning in September to reserve a ranger-led conservation education program and field trip. 
  • Programs and field trips are designed for third grade classes, Monday through Friday during the month of October.
  • All other grades are welcome to take a self-guided tour to see the spawning salmon. 
  • We offer additional information to assist educators including the Educator’s Pre-visit Packet Portable Document File format links require the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.  You may download the reader for free by following this link to the Adobe web site. and the Kokanee Cycle Club Coloring Book Portable Document File format links require the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.  You may download the reader for free by following this link to the Adobe web site.



Black bears are omnivores and opportunistic eaters.  Salmon are a natural food source and feeding on the spawning salmon is a positive behavior for bears.  Biologists and wildlife managers prefer bears forage on natural food sources instead of seeking out human food sources from picnic tables and unsecured garbage cans.

The Forest Service does not encourage visits to see bears and advises the public to stay away from bears, as they are wild animals and dangerous.  When in bear country it is important to stay on trails, and if you do spot a bear, keep your distance and never approach the bear for any reason, including a photo opportunity.  

For more information on living in and visiting bear country, visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Keep-Me-Wild/Bear or www.ndow.org/Nevada_Wildlife/Bear_Logic/.