Lake Tahoe is a tourist spot to avoid, according to Fodor’s travel guide


A week before Tahoe’s resorts open for the winter and invite skiers and snowboarders to take advantage of an unexpected early-season snowfall, Fodor’s Travel issued its own recommendation: Don’t go.

“Lake Tahoe has a population problem,” the guide noted. “Amid the pandemic and the Great Migration, there has been an influx of people moving to the mountains, as well as people with second homes in the area coming to live in Tahoe permanently. And that made traffic crawl along the lake, and the trails and beaches kept crowded.

The result, in addition to the Truckee gridlock in Tahoe City, is that particulate pollution seeps into the lake and obscures the cobalt blue waters that are a main attraction. A partial solution would be to reduce car traffic around the lake, which is why Fodor’s is pleading with people not to go there.

“Improving traffic conditions in Tahoe will reduce this source of pollution,” the guide says, “and ease the stress and strain of traveling in Tahoe.”

Andy Chapman, CEO of Travel North Tahoe Nevada, was interviewed for Fodor’s article and took issue with the suggestion that Fodor is asking people to stay away from Tahoe.

“We all need to give nature a break, but we don’t want to tell people not to come to Tahoe,” he said, noting that the agency makes available on its website a “Pledge of responsible traveler,” with six principles for how a visitor can help take care of Tahoe. The bottom line: “Be mindful in your travels and stick to the destination,” he said.

Chapman also said travelers aren’t the only contributors to overcrowding. There was what he called “the great labor migration” of people who moved to Tahoe to work remotely during the pandemic and still haven’t returned.

“We have had an increase in users at Tahoe and that across all categories – visitors, new residents and second home owners. A lot of people moved to Tahoe,” he said, “and it had impacts. »

Jesse Patterson, chief strategy officer of environmental nonprofit Keep Tahoe Blue, was unaware of Fodor’s listing until The Chronicle interviewed him on Sunday. After reading it online, he also disagreed that Tahoe should be on the “No” list even if the concerns raised by Fodor’s had merit.

“Fodor’s is correct that we get a lot of visitors and it’s hurting the environment and the local community, mostly with traffic and litter,” Patterson said. “Everyone should come to see the lake, but we ask that they leave the lake better than you found it by parking your car once and traveling from there by public transport and ski shuttles and carpooling and picking up litter whether it’s yours or not is the Keep Tahoe Blue lifestyle.

Because automobile exhaust is considered the lake’s main source of pollution, efforts have been made in recent years to get people out of their cars.

These involve TART Connect, a free service that combines Uber-like door-to-door service with traditional vans and bus routes. Most major hotels and resorts offer guests access to the service. There are three zones, operating from Truckee to Tahoe City, and ski resorts in between – Palisades Tahoe and Northstar California Resort. TART Connect extends from the West Shore of the Lake ski areas all the way around the North Shore in Incline Village, Nevada.

“Locals use it, but we want visitors to use it too,” said Kirstin Guinn, director of marketing for the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. “We have an influx of people, but there are a lot of great solutions,” said Tahoe City-based Guinn. “Come mid-week and use the public transport solutions.”

In compiling its “No List”, Fodor’s created three categories to include: natural attractions that could use a break to heal and rejuvenate; cultural hotspots that are plagued by overcrowding and resource depletion; and places around the world immediately and dramatically affected by water crises.

On the plus side, Tahoe made the list in the “natural attractions that could use a break” category, which is the one to be if your location should make the list. Tahoe was in the company of coastal France, where trails and beaches are worn from overuse, especially at the D-Day attraction of Normandy Beach, and the Antarctic Peninsula, which attracts 100,000 tourists each year who come to feel the climate get warmer and see the wildlife disappear.

In the category of “suffering cultural hotspots”, Venice, Italy, Cornwall, England and Thailand were on the list. The guide also listed the places most severely affected by water crises – they include Maui, the Southern Europe watershed and the entire American West. The guide didn’t go so far as to discourage people from touring the entire state of California, but singled out the much-visited coastal town of Mendocino, which in the summer of 2021 grabbed headlines by carrying l water by truck to hostels and other facilities.

“My takeaway is that the problem of overtourism is global, and certain places are specifically affected,” Guinn said, “but Lake Tahoe still offers everything it’s ever had. It’s beautiful every minute.

Heavenly Mountain Resort, Northstar California Resort and Kirkwood Mountain Resort all opened ahead of schedule on Saturday after 3 feet of snow fell last week. Palisades Tahoe, which encompasses Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows, will open Friday.

Boreal Mountain, which is the most easily accessible resort just off I-80, took over the others by opening last Friday.

“This is our first year post-COVID, the first full season the lodge is fully open. We’ve reopened the bar,” Tucker Norred, Boreal’s chief marketing officer, told The Chronicle. news now.”

Sam Whiting (he/him) is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @SamWhitingSF


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