Peering down over the side of the Tahoe Queen, a paddle wheeler that offers cruises on beautiful Lake Tahoe, all I could see was blue, more blue and then a deeper blue. Our guides told us that we could see things 72 feet down in the water and I didn’t doubt them.
Lake Tahoe, which straddles the California/Nevada state line, is the second deepest lake in the United States at 1,645 feet. Crater Lake in Oregon is the deepest.
But then the guides told me something I didn’t like: When they first tested the clarity of the lake in 1968, you could see 100 feet down. Today, it’s only 72 feet.
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The Clarity of Lake Tahoe
We watched as divers submerged with white discs to measure the clarity of Lake Tahoe’s water. Changes have been made in the amount of construction allowed around the lake, and that’s helping. At one point the clarity was as poor as 65 feet. So good, we’re on the right track.
The clarity of the water is one thing that makes this area so pristine, such an unparalleled vacation destination. At 6,225 feet above sea level, the air is as crisp and clean here as the water appears.
The Sierra Nevada mountains are a place people come to shake off the world’s mental congestion and our own internal pollution. I could feel the cool, brisk wind blow the dust bunnies from my spirit as we navigated the lake.
Cruising on Lake Tahoe
On our 2.5 hour outing, we cruised around Emerald Bay, a National Natural Landmark. That means Emerald Bay is protected because of its outstanding biological and geological resources. Standing on the deck, we could see beautiful granite spires challenging the mountains for attention. A couple of remarkable homes, built before the construction restrictions were put in place, peeked through the trees, teasing us with their presence.
We could see hikers crossing several trails that circle the lake, and it made me eager to get off the boat and explore some more.
I’m not a skier but it’s a fabulous experience for anyone to ride the gondola up to the top of Heavenly Mountain. Grab a hot toddie at the lodge and watch as people zigzag back and forth between California and Nevada. It’s not something you can witness in a lot of places.
And enjoy the view. It’s worth the journey to clear your spirit.
Note: The Tahoe Queen, on which I learn about the clarity issues on Lake Tahoe, was severely damaged by fire in January 2017. That’s a shame, because it was an authentic paddlewheeler that once plied the great Mississippi River. The Dixie II is operated by the same company and a good choice for your cruise around Lake Tahoe’s clear, pristine water.