The best time to visit Lake Tahoe; a month-by-month guide

Lake Tahoe at sunrise with mountains bathed in pink light reflected in the still water of the lake

Straddling the state border between California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is one of America’s most sought-after vacation destinations. The pristine sparkling waters of the lake are just one of the many draws of the area, which enjoys a high elevation, stunning mountain landscapes, and a year-round calendar of events and activities for the whole family to enjoy. With so much to do and see, you might be wondering when the best time to visit Lake Tahoe is. Read on to discover our month-by-month guide to the weather, events, and other factors to consider when booking your dream Lake Tahoe adventure.

When does it snow in Lake Tahoe?

There is reliable snowfall in Lake Tahoe from late November to early April, with the ski slopes generally being open from early December until late March. Of course, this varies from year to year, with some ski seasons extending well into April if there has been enough snowfall over the season. The best snow for skiing is around during January and February when there has been plenty of snow compacted beneath the fresh powder on top.

The shores of Lake Tahoe coveres in snow and ice in the winter

January in Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe in winter is certainly magnificent. It is also a great time to visit if you like skiing, snowboarding, and breathtaking winter views. There are plenty of events running during the month, which is one of the peak times to visit Lake Tahoe. Well-packed powder snow makes January the perfect month for skiing in Lake Tahoe, and also the most popular, so expect busy slopes and restaurants and bars buzzing with the apres-ski crowd. Weekends are generally busier, so try and enjoy the ski slopes on a weekday if you want to avoid the worst of the crowds. 

As with all things in Lake Tahoe at this time, winter is the theme of events in Lake Tahoe in January. You can try your hand at ice skating in Heavenly Village and Edgewood, where public skating rinks invite all ages to slip and slide the night away under a twinkling blanket of fairy lights and stars. If you fancy a break from the chilly weather, Lake Tahoe’s craft beer scene is a fantastic way to escape to a cozy brewery, bar, or pub and sample the region’s finest beverages. Other indoor activities include relaxing spa days, casinos, and shopping.

Lake Tahoe weather in January

January is the snowiest month in Lake Tahoe, with up to 44 inches falling. Although days are short, with around 6 hours of sunshine, temperatures can reach as high as 44°F (6.66°C), which is pretty mild considering Lake Tahoe’s elevation. However, on cold days, temperatures can dip down to 25°F (-3.9°C), so remember to pack your warm winter clothes for a safe and comfortable vacation. The weather in Lake Tahoe in January is often wet, with 20 days of rainfall on average during the month.

February in Lake Tahoe

Due to the famed bluebird days in Lake Tahoe’s ski resorts, February continues to draw the crowds. Wintery scenes straight out of a fantasy novel tempt scores of visitors to the lake. For winter sports fans or those who want to try something new in the great outdoors, February is the dream time to visit Lake Tahoe. Not only is the skiing and snowboarding legendary, but the compacted snow makes for perfect conditions to try snowshoeing, sledding, Nordic walking, and snowmobiling.

After a chilly day in the snow, February is the ideal time to warm up with the Annual Lake Tahoe Mid-Winter Chili Classic, which takes place near the end of the month, and sees cooks competing to whip up the perfect award-winning chili. Lake Tahoe’s casinos are a big draw year-round, but especially during the cold or wet days of winter.

February weather in Lake Tahoe

The snow continues to fall regularly in Lake Tahoe in February. The second snowiest month of the year sees as much as 38 inches fall. Daylight hours are still short, with around 7 hours each day. There are, on average, 18 rainy days in February, and temperatures oscillate between highs of 40°F (4°C) and lows of 19°F (-7°C). The Lake Tahoe winter season is in full swing in February, so make sure you pack plenty of thick outdoor clothes and accessories to keep toasty.

March in Lake Tahoe

The first signs of spring begin to appear in Lake Tahoe in March. As the snow starts to melt at lower elevations, the region’s famous golf courses open. The exact opening dates depend on the weather, but, for those hardy enough to brave the still-cold temperatures, March is a good time for a Lake Tahoe golf vacation, as the number of people on the courses will be pretty minimal. Higher up the mountains, there is still decent skiing to be had, and with far fewer people than in the peak months of January and February, March can be a good month to take advantage of lower prices for ski passes.

March is also a great month to be in Lake Tahoe for drinks fans. The annual St Patrick’s Day Beer Trail takes place on the 17th, while the Lake Tahoe Whiskey Expo takes place at the end of the month. So whatever your tipple, you can enjoy it during March in Lake Tahoe. One of the best things to do in winter and the shoulder seasons is to take a trip to some Lake Tahoe hot springs. A short drive from the main center of the resort, there are a number of hot springs renowned for their nourishing, therapeutic, warm waters. A local favorite is David Walley’s Hot Springs, which has five mineral springs and a full-service spa, for a relaxing experience amongst the wintery chill of Lake Tahoe’s late winter weather.

Lake Tahoe weather in March

Although the temperatures are beginning to creep up, the weather in Lake Tahoe in March is still feeling pretty wintery, with deep snow still lying on the mountain slopes, and fresh snow falling on around 11 days of the month. March continues the trend of being a wet month in Lake Tahoe, with rain on an average of 20 days. There are around 9 hours of daylight in March, and temperatures can reach highs of 46°F (8°C) and lows of 22°F (-5°C).

A snowy panorama of Lake Tahoe from a mountaintop looking down on the lake and forest

Lake Tahoe in April

The long winter loosens its grip on Lake Tahoe in April, and signs of spring wash over the mountain valleys and forests in the form of blooming wildflowers. The lakeside beaches are some of the best places to visit in Lake Tahoe, and without the crowds of summer, you’ll likely have these stunning spots almost to yourself. April is also a fantastic time to take a hike in Lake Tahoe, as the waterfalls of the region are at their best once the snow starts to melt.

It might still be possible to ski in Lake Tahoe in April, but this is very dependent on the weather and how much snow has fallen over the past few months. If there is still enough snow, April is a great time for skiing in Lake Tahoe, particularly for those who want to avoid crowds and very cold conditions. April is the off-season in Lake Tahoe, so it’s a great time to visit for low crowds and good deals.

Elsewhere in Lake Tahoe, April sees a fair few exciting family activities and events to enjoy. You can board a boat and cruise the waters of the lake itself, join in a community cleanup on Earth Day (April 22nd) to help clear the winter’s rubbish revealed by the melting snow or hop over the Heavenly for the annual Easter Egg Hunt.

Lake Tahoe weather in April

The biggest change in terms of April’s weather in Lake Tahoe is that the hours of daylight shoot up to 11, giving you far more time to explore in the light. Temperatures can reach highs of 50°F (10°C) and lows of 26°F (-4°C). There can still be wet weather at Lake Tahoe in April, with potential rainy conditions on 17 days of the month. In general, Lake Tahoe weather in April is changeable, so be prepared by packing plenty of layers and a good waterproof jacket.

May in Lake Tahoe

The May weather in Lake Tahoe is a dream for lovers of the great outdoors. The region’s numerous hikes and trails really come into their own this month, with full access to overlooks, waterfalls, beaches, and state parks. Explore by foot or bike, or take to the water on a sightseeing cruise of the lake. 

There are plenty of Lake Tahoe events in May. One of the largest in Cinco De Mayo, where the bars and Mexican restaurants in town hold parties and deals to celebrate the occasion. It is also Mother’s Day this month, so look out for special offers in spas and restaurants, or simply take advantage of the warming temperatures and longer daylight hours to dine alfresco with spectacular views of the lake.

Lake Tahoe weather in May

Lake Tahoe’s weather in May is perfect for outdoor adventures. It is noticeably warmer than in previous months, with highs of 59°F (15°C), 11 hours of daylight, and much less rain than in April. The weather at Lake Tahoe in May is still unpredictable, and nights and cloudy days can still be chilly, with average low temperatures of 32°F (0°C), so pack plenty of layers in order to weather whatever conditions you encounter. 

Lake Tahoe in June

Temperatures and crowd numbers continue to rise in June, the first month of Lake Tahoe’s peak summer season. Outdoor activities are the most popular pastimes in June, with hiking, mountain biking, beach days, and watersports all readily available. Getting out and about in astonishing nature is one of the very best things to do in Lake Tahoe in summer.

There are many fantastic Lake Tahoe events to enjoy in June. Take a trip to the past at the Valhalla Renaissance Faire, sample the area’s best beverages on the Tahoe City Wine Walk, or take the kids to the Truckee Duckee Derby for some family fun.

Lake Tahoe weather in June

June is a very pleasant month to be in Lake Tahoe, weather-wise. Temperatures reach a high of 68°F (20°C), and with 12 hours of daylight, it is the ideal time to enjoy the lake and all of its outdoor attractions. At nighttime, the temperature can drop down to 38°F (4°C), so you’ll still need some warm layers if you’re planning to stay out after dark. There are minimal rainy days in June, so you shouldn’t need to worry about packing wet weather gear.

Two women in a yellow kayak on Lake Tahoe in the summer

July in Lake Tahoe

With the Lake Tahoe water temperature finally reaching suitable temperatures for swimming, the lakeside beaches are the places to be in July. Popular spots include Baldwin Beach and Lakeside Beach, and get pretty crowded, especially at weekends. We recommend going during the week and seeing for yourself what all the fuss is about. After all, places are usually popular because they are good, and these beautiful beaches are no exception. You can also get active on the hikes around Lake Tahoe in July, and with 13 hours of daylight, there is plenty of time to go for a long walk in the wilderness. 

There are lots of great Lake Tahoe events happening in July. The largest golfing event in Tahoe, the American Century Championship Celebrity Golf Tournament takes place at Edgewood and sees famous golfers, sports stars, and celebrities tee off for charity. You can get tickets to watch, or rent a boat and anchor at the beach for awesome views of the tournament from the water. There are also numerous spectacular fireworks events around Lake Tahoe to celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July.

Lake Tahoe weather in July

The July weather in Lake Tahoe is sublime. Long, dry, sunny days cause the surface of the lake to twinkle invitingly in the sunlight, and temperatures reach a balmy 76°F (25°C). There is only one rainy day on average throughout the whole of July, making it the driest month in Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe in August

August is the peak of the Lake Tahoe summer season when the crowds well and truly descend for long, lazy days by the lake and unforgettable adventures in some of America’s most spectacular scenery. Lake Tahoe summer activities are available around the clock, from boat cruises to watersports, nature walks, and mountain biking. It is the time of year that schools break up, so book well in advance for restaurant reservations or ticketed events that you particularly want to attend.

One of the most popular Lake Tahoe events in August is the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. Running across both July and August at Sand Harbor, the theater festival sees professional companies put on a couple of the Bard’s most beloved plays in the most breathtaking outdoor setting. Attendees sit on the beach, with the rising peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains providing the backdrop for the show. There are food booths at the festival, or you can take your own picnic and wine to enjoy as you watch world-class theater performances in a world-class location.

Lake Tahoe weather in August

The weather in Lake Tahoe in August is very pleasant indeed, with long, warm days and very little rainfall. Daytime temperatures can reach as high as 79°F (26°C), and the temperature of the lake itself is perfect for taking a refreshing dip after a morning spent exploring the beautiful mountain pathways. Nighttime temperatures are still pretty chilly, so it’s worth packing a few warmer layers for nights out on the town.

A man sitting on a rock overlooking a sunny Lake Tahoe

September in Lake Tahoe

September is a season of change in Lake Tahoe, with dramatic differences between early and late in the month. In early September, temperatures are still warm, with crowds dwindling after Labor Day Weekend, and plenty of daylight hours to enjoy the last of the summer outdoor activities. Being the first month of fall, late September brings with it a magnificent change in the landscape. Take a hike around the trail of Lake Tahoe to see the leaves of the trees turn to glorious burnished reds and golds as the nights begin to draw in.

Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival in early September takes place at Northstar Ski Resort near Truckee and is a popular event consisting of three days of cooking demonstrations, culinary contests, and wine tasting. There are many free events at the festival, but some such as dinners require advanced tickets. 

Lake Tahoe weather in September

Things start to cool down throughout September in Lake Tahoe. At the start of the month, expect temperatures in the highs 60s, falling away to the low 60s by the end. Despite a dip in temperatures, September is still a dry month, with few days of rain and in normal years, no snowfall. The Lake Tahoe summer lasts until mid-September, generally, so you can still enjoy some beautiful weather early in the month.

Lake Tahoe in October

October is the best time to visit Lake Tahoe if you’re a fan of breathtaking fall colors. All around the lake, trees are dressed in magnificent leafy cloaks of orange, red, gold, and yellow, making the already beautiful landscape an utterly stunning place to see. There are still plenty of activities to be found in and around Lake Tahoe in October, from hikes and boat tours outside to shopping, spas, and casinos for rainy days.

There are also still lots of Lake Tahoe events to enjoy in October, despite the dropping temperatures. Fall Fish Fest is an event celebrating the magnificent annual spawning of the Kokanee salmon. Walk the Rainbow Trail on October 7-8 to see fish in their thousands. For something completely different, Oktoberfest at Camp Richardson is a lively, rowdy party in the spirit of the famous beer party.

Lake Tahoe weather in October 

Things are feeling significantly cooler in regard to Lake Tahoe October weather conditions. Daytime temperatures reach around 58°F (14°C), with nights dropping to 30°F (-1°C). October can be a rainy month in Lake Tahoe, with an average of 11 wet days, and the possibility of snowfall late in the month.

Fall colors in Lake Tahoe

November in Lake Tahoe

November is a quiet time to visit Lake Tahoe. The ski slopes are not yet open, but the last of the summer weather has been chased away by wet and chilly days. There are not as many outdoor activities on offer as either in summer or winter, and conditions on hiking trails are muddy and slippery. Despite all of this, November can be a good time to visit Lake Tahoe if you’re looking for a peaceful vacation where you can chill out and relax in your lakeside cabin. There are also great deals in restaurants, spas and indoor attractions to be found at this time of year.

There are also a couple of Lake Tahoe events in November that make the area worth visiting. The holiday feeling is starting to creep in, with festivals such as Valhalla Holiday Faire and Winter Wanderland at Tallac having a distinctly Christmassy air.

Lake Tahoe weather in November

The weather in Lake Tahoe in November is a mixture of fall and winter conditions. With average highs anywhere between 50°F to 31°F, things can be mild one moment and cold the next. November is also the first month where you will see significant snowfall, up to 16 inches by the end of the month. There can also be up to 18 days of rain in Lake Tahoe in November, so pack for all weather eventualities!

December in Lake Tahoe

Ski season begins with a vengeance in December in Lake Tahoe. With the slopes opening in time for the holidays, the crowds also return. December is a beautiful time to be in Lake Tahoe, especially for winter sports fans, but if you’re not one for skiing, there are still plenty of things to do.

There are numerous holiday and Christmas events taking place in Lake Tahoe in December, including Christmas markets, ice skating beneath the stars, and sleigh rides. The end of December sees the skies above Lake Tahoe light up with the glow of fireworks, as the resort rings in the new year in style.

Lake Tahoe weather in December

With the amount of daylight dropping back to 6 hours, December brings winter once more to Lake Tahoe. With an average snowfall of 34 inches across the month, expect carpets of white across mountains and forest trails. Temperatures reach an average high of 37°F (3°C) and drop down to 18°F (-8°C). Although undeniably cold, Lake Tahoe is one of the mildest ski resorts in the USA in December. When it’s not snowing, it is likely to be raining. There are 20 wet days on average in December, so don’t forget to pack your waterproofs!

A beautiful view of Lake Tahoe from the water's edge

So, when is the best time to visit Lake Tahoe?

The best time to visit Lake Tahoe really depends on what you’re looking for. For fantastic skiing in the best conditions, February is well worth weathering the crowds for. If you’re after the best weather, July and August are ideal, although crowding once again could be an issue. For the best of all worlds, September is the best time to visit Lake Tahoe, after Labor Day weekend. The crowds will b lower, and you’ll have some warmer weather and sunshine to enjoy the outdoor activities on offer.

Once you’ve decided when to visit Lake Tahoe, you’ll need to find somewhere to stay. Our Lake Tahoe vacation rentals are as spectacular as the landscape around them. Traditional mountain cabins, close to the lake are ideal for vacations at any time of year. Head over to our Lake Tahoe page to discover our beautiful villas in the region.