There’s enough room around Tahoe to create space to satisfy every different kind of snow activity—even snowmobiling. While you can’t take your mad machine anywhere and everywhere, you’ll find vast acreage at your disposal, whether you’re a lifelong rider or want to go out for your very first guided tour. A number of companies offer snowmobile rentals, maps, groomed terrain, open fields, and guided tours of the winter scenery.
Operating out of the town of Meyers on the South Shore, Lake Tahoe Adventures (3071 Hwy. 50, Meyers, 530/577-2940, www.laketahoeadventures.com, Nov.–Apr. daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m.) specializes in group snowmobile tours on the Nevada side of the lake. A shuttle takes riders from the tour center up to the base camp in Hope Valley, where the fleet of Arctic Cat snowmobiles waits to ply the high-elevation backcountry Sierra terrain.
First-time drivers and families with children should pick one of the more sedate trail tours or the snowmobile track, while expert snowmobile enthusiasts prefer the “Ultimate” off-trail tours that get deep into the backcountry and rougher riding. Children are welcome, but snowmobile drivers must be at least 15 years old. Reservations are required for all tours.
If you’re up on the North Shore, check out Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours, Inc. (Hwy. 267, south of Northstar, 530/546-4280, www.laketahoesnowmobiling.com, daily, $90–250). Boasting a fleet of Sea-Doo snowmobiles and more than 20 years of guided touring experience, this outfit offers everything from 90-minute easy tours that give you gorgeous lake views (aptly named Lakeview Adventures) up through private three- and four-hour adventures geared toward expert riders up for tackling ungroomed backcountry terrain. You’ll see sweeping North Shore views and drive through miles of unspoiled (if slightly singed) forest. Reservations are highly recommended, drivers must be 16 or older and have a valid driver’s license, and no children under five may ride with this company for safety reasons.
Several snowmobiling outfits operate west of Truckee along the main roads—you’ll see the tracks as you drive in and out of town. One company, Cold Stream Adventures (11760 Donner Pass Rd., Truckee, 530/582-9090, www.coldstreamadventures.com, daily, $130–155 for 2-hour tour), also offers tours into the mountains, promising climbs up to 2,000 feet above your starting point. These guided tours take routes through the forest that are private to this company—that is, you’ll see forested landscapes available to you no other way. Make reservations, grab your sunglasses, and come on out!
Down south on the Nevada side, it’s hard to miss the presence of the Zephyr Cove Snowmobile Center (760 Hwy. 50 at the Zephyr Cove Resort, 775/589-4906, www.zephyrcove.com, $110–250). The free shuttle runs right along the freeway for all to see, and for all reserved riders to use at their convenience. A Lakeview or Sierra Summit tour on a new Sea Doo snowmobile will include breathtaking views, easy riding on groomed trails, and plenty of stops that let you take pictures. Advanced riders can work with the guides to create a challenging personal tour.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition