For as much as I travel, there's nothing like exploring my own backyard in Reno Tahoe. This area offers unparalleled access to every kind of outdoor recreation you can think of, along with world class art, music and food. Each season, I find myself drawn to new activities: trail running, community theatre, snowshoeing and yoga have all played their part. Most recently, it's been kayaking. Nick and I spent a large chunk of our summer exploring the area in our 'yaks.
Because we like challenging ourselves with crazy adventures every once in awhile (or maybe because we're just crazy) Nick and I recently kayaked around Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America. Well, almost all of it. We ended up paddling for 55 miles — 3 straight days — starting in Homewood, working our way to South Shore and ending at Speedboat Beach. It was a grueling, beautiful journey. You can read more about the route we took here.
Tackling such an endeavor is not for the faint of heart. If you're looking to up your adventure ante and have a particular fondness for paddling through brilliant blue water 7 hours a day, discovering secret coves and bandaging blisters on your hands, then read on...
When To Go
RIGHT NOW! Well, if you're trained and ready, that is. As the summer swells begin to die down and the temps are still wonderfully warm, September is an ideal time for kayaking. Early-mid October could work well too, pending weather. Or, add this to your bucket list for next summer!
I highly recommend owning your own kayak for this adventure. Yes, there are credible outfits all over Reno Tahoe where you can rent quality gear, but to complete this undertaking you'll want to train heavily ahead of time. I kayaked Donner Lake all summer, starting at around 10 miles per week then working my way up to 20 miles. Important: make sure you have familiarity with many kinds of water conditions. Setting out early each morning will ensure gorgeous reflections and still waters, where the miles melt behind you effortlessly, but make sure you feel comfortable in choppy waters too. Note: there are many kayak apps available for your smart phone, although I ended up not using any of them and simply kept analog notes on my progress, both during my training and the journey itself.
Kayaking Big Blue
Bring water, extra snacks, plenty of sunscreen, and a dry bag to store everything. Wear comfortable shoes or sandals you can slip off when you want to go barefoot (my favorites are Teva). Along with your kayak, I also recommend investing in a high quality fiberglass paddle, which will make a WORLD of difference. I spent around $650 on my kayak, and $80 on my paddle — well worth the investment as I kayak so frequently. These stores in the Reno Tahoe area are a great resource for both kayaks and paddles (many offer a locals discount!):
- Tahoe Sports Hub (where Nick and I got everything we need)
- REI in Reno
- Sierra Trading Post
- Tahoe City Kayak
- Zephyr Cove Adventures
The key with kayaking so many miles (we averaged 18 miles/day) is to wake up early each morning and cover as much ground as possible before the wind picks up and the lake is littered with boats. Choppy water will slow you down quite a bit, so plan accordingly. There are many restaurants and cafes hugging the lake, so we were able to mostly eat out during our journey... also made for a great excuse to refuel on beer from time to time!
Following our journey, Nick and I enjoyed a blissful evening at the Atlantis (my favorite resort casino in Reno) for massages at the world class spa. We enjoyed a couples Swedish massage which was heaven, and spent some time in the co-ed spa area afterwards. Later we enjoyed steak dinners at Bistro Napa — wish every adventure ended like that! The Atlantis has stunning views of Reno, and was truly the perfect way to wrap up our journey and rest our weary bones.
Special thanks to Reno Tahoe for helping provide such a memorable adventure. All opinions expressed are my own.