Chase adventure in Tahoe this summer
The Lake Tahoe region cannot be fully appreciated until you’ve explored it from the peaks of her majestic mountains, and by floating atop the lake’s crystal-clear waters.
So why not create the ultimate family vacation this summer and live life to the fullest with your friends and loved ones by taking in all that Lake Tahoe has to offer — while doing it all in one day?
“In my mind, Lake Tahoe is a perfect vacation destination because the amount of fun things to do is almost endless,” says Sean Field, owner of Off Road Tahoe, which launches this year as the first UTV tour company permitted by the U.S. Forest Service to operate in the Tahoe National Forest. “ … A vacation to Tahoe to me wouldn’t be complete without getting out in the mountains and getting onto the lake; branching out and doing something you ordinarily wouldn’t — you don’t want to be here looking at your phone all day.”
Driving in Off Road Tahoe’s UTVs for an adventure through winding, tree-lined trails over rugged backcountry terrain while discovering sprawling views covers your vacation in both the throttle-therapy and breathtaking-scenery departments.
On the other hand, whether you’re a local or visitor, the summer season here is all about spending time on pristine Lake Tahoe, soaking up the sunshine, relaxing — and for some adventure enthusiasts, getting your heart pumping with a wakesurf lesson, something offered through many professional businesses, including Tahoe Surf Company.
“I want to introduce people to how amazing our Truckee-Tahoe community is through the social aspect of getting out on the water, and introduce them to the panoramic, high-definition mountains, surrounding deep emerald blue waters,” says Jeb Scicluna, owner of Tahoe Surf Company, which launched in the summer of 2017. “We are building a community around a sport that allows you to harmonize with the frequencies of stoke and nature.”
As Scicluna puts it, everyone should experience the serenity of Lake Tahoe from both perspectives — the forest and the lake, where you can feel the rush of surveying trails and surfing waves.
“What more fun is it to get dirty all morning in the mountains and build up an appetite for some big waves and water in the afternoon?” Field added.
Explore by trail in ‘ultimate fun machines’
With the help of USFS-permitted guides, you can create your own adventure in the Sierra while freeing your mind from daily stress and driving top-of-the-line, 1000cc Can-Am Commander UTVs through Truckee-based Off Road Tahoe.
Handling one of these vehicles comes with a freeing feeling of power and control as you follow trails through the woods to scenic vistas, showing you a different side of Lake Tahoe’s serene landscape.
“Cruising down the back roads in these machines on trails you’ve never seen before is just so much fun,” says Field, who grew up in Tahoe City. “They truly are the ultimate fun machines.”
Field has explored the Lake Tahoe region since he was 11 years old, first riding dirt bikes, then snowmobiles, then skiing professionally, and finally finding his passion in sharing backcountry experiences with friends and family by way of four-wheeling.
“I’ve always loved off-roading in different ways, but the thing I didn’t like was I couldn’t always go out with my best friends; not everyone had dirt bikes or snowmobiles or the ability to get out to these areas,” he admits. “When I started four-wheeling, it was so cool because all of a sudden I was able to share what I had been doing out in the woods for years, but now I could bring my dad or my friends, bring a cooler with drinks and make a day out of it.”
All it takes for a day of off-road adventure is being a licensed driver and showing up at the trailhead wearing closed-toe shoes and clothes you’re not afraid of getting dirty.
The guide outfits guests in helmets and vehicles before conducting a walkthrough of how the UTVs operate, talking trail safety and etiquette, and then you’re off, with a Wilderness First Responder leading the way.
They’ll make stops for plenty of picture-taking, as well as switching drivers so everyone gets a chance to let loose and challenge themselves on terrain ranging from open fire roads to bumpy, rocky trails to creek crossings to small hills.
“It may seem like an intimidating thing at first, but you’ve really got to come out and give it a try before you make any judgment on off-roading,” Field suggests. “The amount of freedom and control that comes with it is something all people should experience — and keep an open mind to, because you just might surprise yourself.”
The trip can be customized to any group’s needs — bachelor or bachelorette parties, for just one example — and is a great way to get all kinds of people out for an activity that everyone can enjoy together, away from the crowds.
“… Tell your boss, because off-roading is a great team building experience as well,” Field says.
Adventure by water by mimicking the ocean
At its core, Tahoe Surf Company specializes in manufacturing wakesurfers — helping people learn a new sport in just one day.
“With a professional and extensive background in snowboarding and a passion for ocean surfing, we’ve come up with solid progressions for all ages, athletic abilities and sizes up on the wave to experience surfing,” Scicluna says. “Guests have been children, on up into their ‘60s, though our most popular surfers are 3- to 5-year-olds.”
Coaches teach guests to wake surf by first standing on the board with them, to then surfing next to them, and gradually introducing them into the wave.
By surfing with the student, coaches can give them the firsthand experience of reading the wave, which makes for a more natural learning progression.
“Once they hit the water with that board under their feet, they are wake surfers,” Scicluna says.
Scicluna was born in Santa Cruz and grew up with a passion for ocean surfing after being taught alongside his brothers by their dad.
“We didn’t have an option — my family grew up learning to surf,” he recalls. “My siblings and I always had a neat selection of surfboards to choose from that my dad would help us collect.”
The “Company” in the business name, Scicluna says, is designed to stand for “spending priceless time in the company of family and friends,” while accomplishing something really fun in one day.
A day on the water begins with the captain and coach picking your group up at a predetermined location in a luxurious MasterCraft X23, a spacious surfboat specially designed for wakesurfing, which Scicluna describes as a “pure beauty and a beast.”
Guests learn the ins and outs of water sport safety and wake surfing. With goals established — and bearing in mind wind and water conditions — the specialty wakesurf boat navigates to the best locations for demonstrations and thorough instruction, where the captain and coaches can fine-tune the wave to mimic the ocean. Guests can opt for steep, mellow, long or short waves based on their surfing ability and style of the wake surfboard.
“Before you know it, the guest is comfortably suited up in high-end wetsuits and life vests … with their selection of wake surfboard, and the surfing adventures begin,” Scicluna said.
Additional activities include wakeboarding, tubing and opting to relax near Tahoe’s hidden beaches — one couple staying at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe even brought their robes on board to create an ultra-luxe ride, Scicluna recalls.
So, whether by forest or water — or both — throw your typical itinerary out the window, shake things up with your family and friends and make sure this summer you actually have something cool to talk about when you head back to the grind.