Sunday, May 10, 2015

Will The Drought Affect Tahoe Boating?

The short answer is yes.
But will there still be great boating experiences to be had on Tahoe in the summer of 2015?
Absolutely, but with a caveat. Read on...
Lake Tahoe is 1645 feet deep, so there will be water to enjoy no matter how long the drought lasts.
But the key to enjoyment is found in the size of your boat!
For those of you who like to bring your own boat to Tahoe, you need to know that the number of boat launches available to use this summer will be restricted. Some will never open because the water level is already below their ramps. For example, Sand Harbor State Park already announced that their boat launch will not open this year. Other ramps around the lake will be open but only for smaller boats.

The biggest issue is the draft of your boat. If it has very little draft like a Jet Ski, you will have more success. If you have a deep-keel sailboat, this is not your year for Tahoe.

There are multiple websites that provide boat launch information, but this summer it's especially important to confirm launch information by phone or email before you make plans. As the water level continues to drop, boat ramp availability will change throughout the summer. Here are some websites with launch information:

Cave Rock Boat Launch (East Shore)
El Dorado County Boat Launch in South Lake Tahoe (South Shore)
North Tahoe Boat Launch Facities (North Shore)
Obexer's Boat Launch (West Shore)

As always, remember that ALL boats (even kayaks and paddleboards) must be inspected at one of the inspection stations. To go out on Tahoe without an inspection is to risk infecting the lake with nasty foreign critters (mussels, fish, sea weed) that will spread through the lake and do it irreparable harm. (And of course, there are large fines and worse for interlopers!) Here's a blogpost on Tahoe Boat Inspections.

Another great approach this year is to rent your boat, i.e., a boat that is already in the water. There are many businesses around the lake that won't let you launch your own boat, but they'll let you rent one of theirs. An example is Camp Richardson.

Camp Rich is on the southwest corner of Tahoe. They have multiple kinds of boats to rent.
In addition to the marinas that rent boats, there are several "beach vendors" that bring kayaks to the beach so you can rent them there. Check out Kayak Tahoe.

Or, if you want to go on an organized kayak tour, check out Tahoe Paddle.

Tahoe Paddle will take you to great boating locations
Perhaps you want to get out on the lake in the easiest way possible. Consider taking a ride on a tour boat. Some tour boats won't be in operation this year because of the low water. But others will. 

The Tahoe Queen is just one of several tour boats that will give you a great tour.
Check out the Tahoe Queen. (South Shore and Southeast Shore)
Tahoe Gal (North Shore)
Safari Rose (Sails from Roundhill Pines Resort on the East Shore, but they have free shuttle service from many points around the lake.

The Safari Rose is an 80-foot luxury yacht that gives tours all over the lake.

Now comes important information to consider if you want to maximize your potential fun and minimize your potential frustration.

Consider making this season the year of the Kayak, Paddleboard, or Canoe. Why? Because then you can launch your boat without an official boat launch facility. You merely bring your paddle-powered craft (after you get your inspection, of course) to any lakeside park or public beach and carry your craft to the water! If you want to make it even easier, you can get wheels for your craft. Here's an example of Amazon's Kayak Carts.

Here's a post on launching a kayak from Baldwin Beach.

Paddle-powered craft are unaffected by the drought!

The bottom line is that, with a few adjustments in your expectations, boating on Lake Tahoe will be great during the summer of 2015!


  1. Ok we're south shore folk. Where at the Y do we get our kayaks inspected?

    1. As you come down Echo Summit on Hwy 50 into Meyers, turn right on 89, then left on Pomo. There'll be a sign.

      The website with location info is:

      Here's a blogpost on boat inspections:

      Have fun kayaking!