With months of people being under “Stay at Home” orders, and if the past few days are any indication, this holiday weekend will be busy at Lake Tahoe as people get out in the fresh air, hike, bike, go to the beach and get on the water.
The July Fourth holiday at Lake Tahoe will look a bit different this year with firework shows canceled, social distancing, the requirement of face coverings in public places and growing concerns about responsible recreation.
The holiday weekend is still a great opportunity to get outdoors and celebrate our nation’s birthday by enjoying public lands and the great recreational activities at Lake Tahoe – as long as local, state, and federal laws are followed to keep all healthy and safe.
“With an expected increase in the numbers of visitors to our most popular recreation sites over the holiday weekend, I want to remind everyone that the fire danger remains high,” remarked Acting Forest Supervisor Danelle D. Harrison of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. “Lighting fireworks is prohibited and enforcement is in high gear. If you witness the illegal use of fireworks or illegal campfire activity, please call 911.”
Visitors and locals alike are reminded to do their part to help prevent wildfires. All fireworks are illegal in the Tahoe Basin, including sparklers and firecrackers. Fireworks are never allowed on National Forest System lands, so be sure to leave the illegal fireworks at home. If you see something, say something by reporting to 911 immediately and help us keep our communities safe from wildfire.
Under Stage 1 fire restrictions, forest visitors may not:
– Build or maintain a wood or charcoal fire except within in permanent metal fire rings or provided grills within developed recreation sites (e.g., campgrounds where fees are charged and there is an onsite host).
– Smoke, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while in an area at least three feet in diameter cleared of all flammable materials.
– Use any internal or external combustion engine (including chainsaws) without a spark arresting device properly working and a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher and a round point shovel.
– Weld or operate acetylene or other torch with open flame except in cleared areas of at least 10 feet in diameter and in possession of a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher.
– Use explosives or other incendiary devices, including any type of fireworks.
To promote public safety, the annual alcohol prohibition will be in effect at Nevada Beach, Zephyr Cove Resort and Zephyr Shoals (former “Dreyfus Estate”) on July 4 from 6:00 a.m. until midnight and at Chamber’s Landing Beach from July 3 through July 5. The Forest Order and maps will be posted at https://go.usa.gov/xVfjp. To ensure compliance, these areas will be patrolled by law enforcement personnel from the Forest Service, state and local law enforcement and private security staff.
Day use parking fees for July 4 at Baldwin, Pope and Nevada beaches will be $30 and at Zephyr Cove Resort beach the fee will be $40 on July 4 and $15 on July 3 and 5 to cover increased security and facility maintenance costs of the holiday.
Camping, Beaches and Day Use Areas
Fourth of July is one of the busiest weekends on the LTBMU. Most National Forest beaches, campgrounds and resorts are open. Visitors should plan to arrive early as parking areas at beaches, trailheads and picnic areas fill up quickly. Campsites should be reserved before traveling to Tahoe and are typically full this time of year. Wood and charcoal fires are only allowed within metal fire rings and provided metal grills in developed campgrounds with an onsite host.
Campground by the Lake in South Lake Tahoe is open, but no new reservations are being accepted. Only those with prepaid reservations are accepted due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Plan ahead. It will be busy but always more fun if you’ve thought of everything. Have a backup plan in case your intended area is overcrowded.
Everyone should recreate responsibly and adhere to precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with local health and safety guidance, including social distancing. Tips for preventing illnesses are available from the CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html. If an area is crowded, please find another location and follow responsible recreation practices at all times, including the following:
– Practice Social Distancing. Provide space of at least six feet at all times during your visit.
– Do Not Gather in Groups. Follow the latest guidance from officials.
Share the Trail. Alert other trail users of your presence and step aside to let them pass.
– Pack Out Your Trash. Leave with everything you bring in and use.
Leave No Trace
Be responsible for picking up and disposing of your trash. If trash cans or dumpsters are overflowing, please don’t add to the problem, take your trash home with you. Trash and debris left behind after festivities can be harmful and even fatal to wildlife. It represents a human health hazard, and degrades Lake Tahoe’s water quality. Trash cans and dumpsters may become full, so plan ahead and bring a trash bag with you and become part of the solution by packing out your own garbage.
Enjoying the Water
The lake will be patrolled by the US Coast Guard and law enforcement agencies from all jurisdictions. Be responsible and know what you’re doing when operating a boat, kayak, standup paddleboard. Always have a personal floatation device (PFD) on board or on your person at all times.
Cold Water Shock is real. Even it is a beautiful day the water in Lake Tahoe is cold beneath the surface. Going headfirst can cause one to gasp involuntarily and the PFD will keep you up.
Keep Tahoe Red, White and Blue Beach Cleanups
Consider volunteering for the League to Save Lake Tahoe’s Annual Keep Tahoe Red, White and Blue Beach Clean-Up from 8:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 5, to help clean-up sites all around Lake Tahoe. To volunteer and learn more, visit https://www.keeptahoeblue.org/news/events/keep-tahoe-red-white-blue-beach-cleanup-2020.