Lakes that survived the drought: Tahoe, Rollins, Donner and Scotts Flat

SURE, CALIFORNIA HAS A drought, which is impacting recreation on some of its most popular rivers, lakes and reservoirs. But with trillions of gallons of water, Lake Tahoe — the nation’s second deepest lake — is poised to welcome water enthusiasts from all over this summer.

The same goes for most other lakes in our region, including Scotts Flat Reservoir, Rollins Lake, Donner Lake and countless High Sierra lakes.

White sand beaches such as D.L. Bliss State Park near Tahoe’s Emerald Bay are going to be wider than normal, and stand up paddle boarders and kayakers — among the fastest-growing water sports participants — will find plenty of turquoise, tranquil waters to explore.

Lake Tahoe and Scotts Flat Reservoir were recently named among California’s top 10 spots for stand up paddle boarding, according to SUP magazine. “Of all the simply outrageous paddling destinations California has to offer, Lake Tahoe is one you simply must not miss,” according to the magazine.

As for Scotts Flat, east of Nevada City: “The flat and clear water is surrounded by gorgeous forestry and blue skies.”

Our lakes also are ideal for kayaking. One example: The Lake Tahoe Water Trail, which offers more than 72 miles of shoreline with 41 public launch-landing sites and 16 day landing sites. Most paddlers use the Water Trail in short day trips of 2-3 hours.

Paddlers can experience mirror-flat waters, views of Sierra peaks and historic sites, including Ehrman Mansion, Vikingsholm and Thunderbird Lodge. We encourage them to consult the Lake Tahoe Water Trail website at to help plan a trip.

Donner Lake also is popular for paddle boarding, kayaking and other non-motorized watercraft. Paddle boarding yoga classes also are taught at the lake.

The lake also is home to the new Donner Memorial State Park Visitor Center. It features engaging programs and exhibits, including the photographs of Truckee resident Elizabeth Carmel, whom we have featured in our magazine.

Both Donner and Lake Tahoe are home to paddle board races and festivals, including Donner Lake, Kings Beach (Aug. 14-16) and South Lake Tahoe (Sept. 13).

West Shore Sports

The recreation outfitter rents the latest sit-on-top kayaks, paddle boards and bicycles from three locations on Tahoe’s West Shore: Sunnyside/Tahoe Park, Homewood and Sugar Pine Point State Park.

The knowledgeable, experienced staff also offers itineraries for an enjoyable outing. Grab a fresh sandwich at the new West Shore Market & Deli across from Tahoe’s Sunnyside location or at Obexer’s Market in Homewood.

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