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Make a Clear Difference: Sustainable Travel in Lake Tahoe 

Last updated: May 2024

It’s no secret that Lake Tahoe’s natural environment is absolutely breathtaking. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a longtime friend of the region, the first moment you breathe in that mountain air and gaze out over the lake’s crystal-clear waters is magical. Lake Tahoe’s inherent beauty has attracted visitors for generations. In order to keep it preserved for generations to come, visitors must take actionable steps to make a clear difference when traveling here. Increased visitation to the region runs the risk of deteriorating the natural wonders that make Lake Tahoe so unique. We’d love to have you, but you must plan to leave the place better than you found it. Here’s how to ensure you’re participating in sustainable travel in Lake Tahoe. 

Sustainable Travel in Lake Tahoe
Photo Credit: Brian Walker Photography

Become a Sustainability Steward of Lake Tahoe 

Adhere to any signage or instructions you come across during your exploration of the region — that means sticking to marked trails and keeping away from areas marked as off-limits.  

There’s no better way to support the local community and its businesses than by buying locally whenever possible. Lake Tahoe has a plethora of mouthwatering locally owned and operated restaurants for you to explore along the North Shore. If you prefer to do your own cooking, plan to bring your own groceries from home so as not to overwhelm local resources. 

An easy step to reduce your effect on the environment is by taking advantage of the many public transport options available to you, such as TART Connect. This completely free, on-demand shuttle service is a breeze to use and can take you anywhere you need in Lake Tahoe while taking the hassle of driving and parking off your shoulders. In exchange, you’ll be helping manage traffic throughout the region and reduce carbon emissions. It’s a win-win.  

Respect Lake Tahoe’s Natural Environment 

It might seem like a given, but we cannot stress enough how important it is to be respectful of Lake Tahoe’s natural environment while you are appreciating its beauty. Wherever you go, leave no trace. Pack out what you brought in, and dispose of any trash properly. Additionally, park legally and responsibly, as well as stay on designated trails so you don’t disturb the landscape. While we encourage you to explore as much of Lake Tahoe as possible, please only do so where you are permitted to be.  

We welcome visitors of all kinds, including those with four legs and a tail. (Check out these pet-friendly spots to stay and pup-friendly restaurants for a bite to eat!) If you’ve brought your furry friend as a travel companion, be mindful of how they could impact the environment. Ensure to clean up after your pet, including their waste. 

Say no to plastic, and opt for reusable ways to stay hydrated. Refillable water bottles and Tahoe’s 99.7% pure tap water are a match made in heaven, and the best way to maintain your daily water intake while protecting the environment. Maybe even bring some home as a souvenir! Find a map of Tahoe Tap free water refill stations here

Photo Credit: Ming T. Poon

Know Before You Go 

To ensure your visit to Lake Tahoe is a safe and enjoyable experience, make sure you are educated and up-to-date on weather conditions, road guidelines or county alerts that might be in effect. Be sure you have reviewed necessary safety guidelines and have prepared ahead of time for any outdoor activities, such as skiing. In case of emergency, have a plan in place — does your family know what to do in case of situations such as wildfire or extreme snow conditions? Check out our Know Before You Go Guide for more information on the region and how to navigate it safely and sustainably.  

Keep Lake Tahoe Wildlife Wild 

Members of the local community aren’t the only ones who call Lake Tahoe home. Be respectful of the region’s wildlife residents and do your part to ensure they stay wild. Never, under any circumstances, should you approach or offer food to an animal. Observe animals from a distance, for both your safety and theirs. Additionally, always be sure to dispose of and store your food properly, so bears or other animals won’t be able to access it. The last thing we want is for Lake Tahoe’s wildlife to become food-conditioned. For everyone’s safety, keep a respectful distance and ensure that you don’t share any of your food, and keep dogs on leashes where designated. 

Photo Credit: Ming T. Poon

Be Fire Safe 

Wildfires can be absolutely devastating – and it’s always wildfire season in Tahoe. Do your part to ensure that you aren’t the cause of one. Consult the area’s fire restrictions before lighting an outdoor flame of any kind, and please leave the fireworks at home. Fireworks of any kind are not permitted in the Tahoe Basin. Even small, handheld sparklers can start a blaze!  

If you do light a wood or charcoal fire in approved areas, don’t leave a single ember behind once you’re done. Soak, stir and feel the ashes to ensure the fire is fully out before disposing of them. 

In the event of a fire, stay calm, educated and updated on local alerts regarding evacuations and areas affected. Get local alerts for Placer County, Washoe County and Nevada County

Demonstrate Sustainable Travel in Lake Tahoe

Remember that while Lake Tahoe is a vacation spot, it is home to many year-round. When you engage with people, be kind and respectful — it goes a long way. In crowded areas, be sure not to impact other people’s appreciation of the region. Avoid playing music too loud or having loud cell phone conversations, and keep noise levels reasonable.  

Above all, be aware of the impact that your visit has on the region and take steps where you can to minimize it. Consider giving back to Lake Tahoe by volunteering for Clean Up Days, which are periodically scheduled throughout the year and a great way to make a clear difference. 

Take the Traveler Responsibility Pledge 

While you are planning your Lake Tahoe trip, take the Traveler Responsibility Pledge. By making a pledge, you are promising to do everything you can to preserve and elevate the area’s stunning natural environment, so that everyone can continue enjoying everything Lake Tahoe has to offer. Use this as a guide to maintaining sustainable travel in Lake Tahoe. We’d love to have you. Check out our full list of places to stay during your visit and explore how you can enjoy the region responsibly with the help of knowledgeable, friendly staff. Want to get the most out of your visit? Consider extending your stay through the week and enjoy more open space throughout Lake Tahoe.