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Lake Tahoe’s Year-Round Kayaking Adventures

Last updated: January 2024

Updated March 2023

Lake Tahoe is a breathtaking destination for just about anyone, especially while out on the water. The area’s surreal natural beauty is hard to find elsewhere. Still, it’s one thing to see the stunning crystal-clear waters, picturesque coasts and surrounding mountains in pictures and videos and another to experience them in person. 

That’s why kayaking is a great way to explore the area’s grandeur. It allows you to paddle along the shoreline and explore hidden beaches— making this activity a truly unforgettable experience. 

Photo: California High Sierra


Lake Tahoe offers many kayaking opportunities for all skill levels, from serene tours to challenging and adventurous expeditions. 

If you’re a beginner or want a relaxing experience, you can find guided paddle tours in Lake Tahoe for kayakers to explore the astonishing scenery of the region at a calm pace. Protected shorelines offer the perfect opportunity to take it slow and steady.  

On the other hand, if you’re a more experienced kayaker and love the adrenaline, Lake Tahoe can give you plenty of challenging routes along with a diverse range of terrains, including rocky shorelines, dense forests, river rapids, high alpine meadows and striking views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.  

Photo: California High Sierra


You can kayak in Lake Tahoe year-round, since the region offers a variety of kayaking tours and experiences around the lake most months of the year – even in the winter. 

During the spring and summer months, enjoy crystal blue sparkling waters and radiant sunshine, with plenty of rental options and guided tours available to explore the lake.  

As the temperature drops in fall and winter, the beautiful snow-capped mountains provide a stunning backdrop for your kayak ride. Some rental companies carry winter equipment, including dry suits and gloves, to keep kayakers like you warm during your winter water ride. Overall, kayaking in Lake Tahoe is a year-round activity with plenty of relaxation, exploration and excitement.  

Regardless of the season you decide to kayak in Lake Tahoe, we recommend heading out for an early morning or sunset row. Trust us; few views are more spectacular than seeing the sun “bathe” in Lake Tahoe. 

See a list of kayaking and other water activities in Lake Tahoe. 

Photo: California High Sierra, Sand Harbor


The West Shore Trail’s gorgeous scenery, crystal-clear waters and stunning mountain vistas are something to behold. This trail is around a 10-mile stretch that takes kayakers from Tahoe City to Homewood, passing by several beautiful coves and inlets along the way. Plus, it’s also home to several spots only accessible by kayak, making it a one-of-a-kind experience. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely paddle or a more challenging journey, the West Shore Trail will have something for you, indeed. 

Here’s a map with additional info about West Shore Trail day trips in Lake Tahoe. 

Photo: Ryan Salm, East Shore


On the other side of Lake Tahoe, the East Shore Trail, offers another unique kayaking opportunity to explore the region’s natural beauty. This trail runs for almost 16 miles and features some of the most enchanting views of the lake, with kayakers mentioning that the water on this side is calmer and more serene. This provides a peaceful and relaxing escape with striking mountain backdrops and hidden beaches that can only be reached by kayak.  

What’s more, the East Shore Trail has several beautiful picnic areas, making it an excellent destination for a family day trip. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the diverse wildlife and its inhabitants — such as fish, ducks, geese, bald eagles and black bears — all from your kayak.  

Take a glimpse at this map with additional info about Lake Tahoe’s East Shore Trail day trips. 


Kayaking in Lake Tahoe can be enjoyed by just about anyone, thanks to the several rental companies around the lake that offer a wide variety of kayaks, including single, tandem and sit-on-top kayaks. Many of these rental companies also provide guided tours, which offer an excellent way to explore the lake and learn about its history, geology and wildlife. Visitors can rent kayaks for an hour, a half-day, a full day or even multiple days, in case you’re looking for an extended water joyride.  

Some spots to check out include: 

Get a list of kayak and other watercraft rental companies in Lake Tahoe. 

Summer West Shore


Cheers! The Ale Trail is the ultimate resource for finding a frosty brew throughout your outdoor water-gliding adventure. This trail is a self-guided tour that can take you to some of the region’s best breweries, where you can enjoy locally-crafted beers. That way, you can kayak on the lake during the day and then sample some of Lake Tahoe’s best beers in the evening, providing an excellent way to unwind and relax after your paddling ride. With over 10 stops, and each one offering a unique atmosphere, you’ll get a chance to learn more about the region’s craft beer scene. 

Discover more details about Lake Tahoe’s Ale Trail spots and activities. 


Paddling a kayak in Lake Tahoe can be an exciting activity, but it’s essential to take precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all. Here are some tips: 

  • If you’re bringing your own kayak, make sure that you decontaminate your equipment to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS). For more information on how to do this, check out the Tahoe Keepers’ free self-inspection and decontamination training program. 
  • Check the weather and water conditions, as these can change rapidly in the mountains.  
  • Wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) is a must, too, as it can save your life in case of an accident.  
  • It’s also important to stay aware of your surroundings, especially when kayaking next to boats or other watercrafts.  
  • It’s also a good idea to bring a signaling device, a whistle and a waterproof map of the area.  
  • Know your comfort level and scope out waters before you go – unexpected rapids can catch even the most experienced kayaker off guard. 
  • Finally, be sure to let someone know about your kayaking trip, planned route and expected return date and time in case of an emergency.  

By following these safety tips, you can explore the majestic waters of Lake Tahoe with more confidence.

Photo: Wild Society, Clearly Tahoe


As you might know by now, Lake Tahoe is a beautifully calm and thrilling destination for all levels of kayakers. Its crystal-clear waters, mesmerizing scenery and wide range of paddling options make it the perfect area to embark on your next adventure. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, Lake Tahoe will give you an experience like no other, whether that’s on — or out — of your kayak. 

Check out the Lake Tahoe Water Trail map to get started and find your ideal place to stay. With plenty of accommodation options, we’re almost sure you’ll land on the right spot to immerse yourself in the region’s natural beauty and create memories that’ll go deep into your kayaking-loving heart.