What’s SUP Lake Tahoe


The horseshoe bend of Emerald Bay stretches out before you; the steep rim of the lake, crystal clear water, pine tree canopy, and tiny island complete with stone tea house solidifying the uniqueness of it all. Stand up paddle boarding and kayaking are very popular on Lake Tahoe due to the visibility and gentleness of the water, the interesting boulders and topography of the shores, and the natural beauty, and Emerald Bay is the penultimate spot to explore. Prepare to complete a bucket list item.

Descending from the seasonably-crowded parking lot of Emerald Bay State Park, you’ll take a one-mile paved trail down to the lakefront, where you’ll find Vikingsholm, a big dock stretching out into the lake, and the gaggle of plastic kayaks and SUPs, ready for rental. Hit the water after a brief lesson (it’s easy) you’re floating on the aforementioned clear water- it’s about as clear as clear ocean water. The sun is shining, the water is gently lapping on the hull of your vessel, the mountain view is spread out before you, and all is right with the world.

There’s a lot of history in the bay: the ruins of a small stone building can be seen on Fannette Island, the only island in Lake Tahoe, just a short paddle away and graciously encompassed in the state park, meaning you can hike around the stony crag. The tea house was formerly owned by Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight, the owner of Vikingsholm, and several hundred adjoining acres back in the 1920s. In the summer, she would boat to the island with guests for tea time.

The rocky island, with its scrubby pines clinging on and rough hewn steps is reflective of the area’s mountainous nature. Watch your step while exploring, it helps to have proper footwear and an eye on the kids, and as much work as it is climbing to the top, it’s equally rewarding with a beautiful sight, watching the boats trickle in to the expansive bay, imagining how little things have changed in the last 100 years.

Either by boat or by foot, it’s easy to see why Mrs. Knight chose Emerald Bay for her majestic home more than 90 years ago, and why the area is a postcard worthy example of the magic of Lake Tahoe.

  • Get there early, the parking lot fills up fast and there’s a limited number of rentals available.
  • You’ll be exposed on your boat, so plan for sun protection and for everything to get wet.
  • Rentals are by the hour, one hour is enough time to explore Fannette Island.
  • The area around Vikingsholm has a lovely beach and picnic spots, so pack accordingly.

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as Creative Resources Manager for RTX, based in Asheville, NC. You can find him hiking the mountains of Asheville, gardening, traveling, and hanging with his growing family. His favorite RTX exchange destinations are Rangeley, Maine, Lake Tahoe, Banff, Canada, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, Cape Cod, and Orange Beach, Alabama. .


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