Truckee-Tahoe to see an influx of visitors for holiday weekend; Officials advise caution

The boat launch at Tahoe Vista Recreation Area will open for the first time in two years on Memorial Day holiday weekend.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Memorial Day holiday weekend, the unofficial kickoff to summer, is big business for Truckee-Tahoe. Some local lodging properties are nearly sold-out, but officials are reminding outdoor adventure seekers that the warm temperatures and cold run off means extra precautions are necessary.

With the area expected to see a large influx of visitors, traffic congestion, crowded trails and beaches are possible, especially with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid to upper 60s.

Be sure to allow extra time for travel and to pack plenty of water and snacks. It’s also a good idea to wear comfortable shoes and clothing that is appropriate for the weather conditions (thunderstorms are possible this weekend).

“North Lake Tahoe is going to be bustling this weekend with plenty of things to do including the Made In Tahoe festival at Palisades Tahoe,” said Kristin Guinn, Marketing Director, North Tahoe Community Alliance. “Our business community is looking forward to a busy weekend – hotels and restaurants have plenty of reservations on the books already. This year, it truly feels like a kick-off to summer.”

According to the USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, it also marks the kickoff for many visitors to national forests. With the strong storms and heavy snow over the past few months, some forest areas and sites are closed due to lingering snowpack, flooding or road damage. Crews are using all available resources to get these areas open and safe for the public to enjoy.

Know Before You Go. Check in with local Forest Service offices for closures and alerts. Use forest websites and social media for updates on sites and trails for the 18 national forests in California. It is your responsibility to know the area and any restrictions to areas, roads and trails within the national forests.

Pack essentials. Hikers and campers should always bring essentials including navigation, light sources, first aid supplies, clothes for changing weather, food, water and a smartphone. We recommend hikers send someone not on the hike a detailed plan of where they plan to travel and GPS location when they arrive, in case of an emergency.

Until sites officially open, there is no parking, trash removal or restroom facilities available, so plan accordingly. Bring a trash bag in case trash receptacles are unavailable and never leave trash on the outside of trash receptacles. Trash and debris left behind can be harmful or fatal to wildlife and degrades Lake Tahoe. Where pets are allowed, always clean up after them and dispose of pet waste bags properly. 

Where gates are still closed, be sure to park legally, completely off the roadway, avoid parking on vegetation, and avoid blocking gates.

Lake Tahoe is bear country. Due to snow coverage, natural food sources for bears are scarce, so be extra vigilant and help keep Tahoe bears wild by properly securing food, garbage, and other scented items. Never leave scented items in vehicles and remember to lock doors and windows. Never approach bears or cubs, always keep your distance. Don’t feed bears or other wildlife, it’s illegal. Feeding wildlife encourages them to enter human occupied areas to seek out human food.

May is Water Safety Month

In a statement Thursday, the Forest Service said that snowmelt has left behind bitter cold water which can cause hypothermia within just a matter of a few minutes. 

El Dorado County Public Health Officer Dr. Nancy Williams is advising residents and visitors to take extra precautions.

“No one wants to lose a loved one to drowning,” said Williams. “Fortunately, drowning incidents are preventable, and taking simple actions can absolutely save lives.” 

According to Williams, El Dorado County officials are especially concerned about getting the word out this year on water safety due to higher-than-normal water levels on local rivers and lakes, which can be very dangerous.

Expect Lake Tahoe beaches to be smaller than previous years due to high lake levels. Beaches with vegetation or rocky shoreline may be inaccessible. Arrive early to beat the crowds and use this opportunity to explore new areas.

Water safety reminders:

  • Do not enter cold, fast-running water. It can be dangerous for you and first responders.
  • Never enter the water to rescue a victim. Throw something that floats and call 9-1-1.
  • Do not drive through high waters. Water is often swifter than it appears.
  • Never swim alone, always wear an approved life jacket. 
  • Keep a close eye on children and pets.

South Lake Tahoe Fire Marshall Kim George told the Tribune “[Dangers in the water] really are a concern. The water is really cold and people underestimate how dangerous it can be. I’ve been seeing people paddleboarding on the Upper Truckee and mostly without life jackets.” 

George added it’s not just the temperature people need to be aware of.

“The river has a number of snags that aren’t visible but could really injure people if they were to fall in. Also, people should never use a leash if they are paddle boarding on the river. There was a tragic fatality a few years back because of that.”

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