Editor’s note, June 21, 1:30 p.m.: The response regarding public access around Lake Tahoe’s shores has been updated by Jeff Cowen with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

The warm sun on my skin has me thinking about summer days spent at the lake. Of course, that idea is on many minds right now. How many other minds exactly was one of our questions in this month’s YATA — especially as the 4th of July approaches (drones, anyone?). And for those seeking to lay out a blanket and prop up an umbrella on one of Tahoe’s many fabulous beaches, a rundown of where the public/private property lines end will help make your beach day more enjoyable.

~ AH



How many people visit Tahoe each year?

According to the Tahoe Prosperity Center, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Caltrans, and Nevada Department of Transportation, the Tahoe Basin amasses more than 15 million visitors per year. 

The annual average daily vehicle counts published by Caltrans and Nevada DOT on incoming routes to Tahoe total roughly 24.8 million vehicle trips. TRPA uses an average vehicle occupancy rate of 2.43, which could mean as many as 60 million person-trips into the Basin per year.

~ Shelby Cook, project manager, Tahoe Prosperity Center

Line in the sand

Does the public’s access to beaches around Lake Tahoe change based on the water level of the lake? In other words, do property lines extend to a specific water level of the lake?

On the California side, the public has the right to pass below the highwater line on private shoreline. This is not public land, but land between high and low water is considered a public trust easement in California. In highwater conditions, there is no trespassing allowed on private property. On the Nevada side, there is no public trust below highwater, so no trespassing is allowed on private property and everyone must follow posted signage.

No matter what part of the lake you’re in, use the Lake Tahoe Water Trail to find places you can come ashore on a kayak or SUP and other tips on enjoying the lake.

Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program partners are also helping increase recreation access through land acquisition programs. Since 2014, public access has been restored on over 600 linear feet of Tahoe shoreline by placing lands in public ownership. That’s more than two football fields in total.

~ Jeff Cowen, TRPA public information officer 


  • Alex Hoeft

    Alex Hoeft joined Moonshine staff in May 2019, happy to return to the world of journalism after a few years in community outreach. She has both her bachelor's and Master's in journalism, from Brigham Young University and University of Nevada, Reno, respectively. When she's not journalism-ing, she's wrangling her toddler or reading a book — or doing both at the same time.

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