Tips for a safe Memorial Day weekend at Lake Tahoe

rushing river

Forest Service News Release

Public Affairs Specialist: Lisa Herron

(530) 721-3898

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif., May 25, 2023 – The unofficial start of summer is here, and warm temperatures have accelerated the melting of the Sierra Nevada’s enormous snowpack. The USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) cautions residents and visitors that rivers, streams, and creeks are running high, fast, and cold! Snowmelt water is bitterly cold, and exposure even a few minutes can cause hypothermia. If you choose to participate in water activities, keep these tips in mind: never swim alone, always wear an approved life jacket, keep a close eye on children and pets, and avoid strong currents.

“We anticipate a large influx of visitors this Memorial Day weekend,” said Forest Supervisor Erick Walker. “Due to the large amount of snow we received over the winter, visitors are advised that some National Forest roads, sites, and trails are still closed. To ensure an enjoyable weekend, plan ahead, please be flexible, and always recreate responsibly.” Find out what is currently open and view tentative opening dates on the LTBMU Recreation Conditions Report.

Due to the large amount of snow remaining in upper elevations, backcountry and wilderness visitors are advised that directional signs and trails may not be visible in some areas. A paper map and compass are essential, along with sturdy footwear and proper clothing, gear, and knowledge. Mobile devices may not work in some areas. Develop an emergency plan in case you cannot call for help. Avoid crossing flooded areas and be aware that river, stream, and creek levels can fluctuate rapidly. A stream crossed early in the day may not be able to be crossed later as temperatures warm and waters rise.

Expect Lake Tahoe beaches to be smaller than previous years due to high lake levels. Beaches with vegetation or rocky shoreline may be inaccessible. Arrive early to beat the crowds and use this opportunity to explore new areas.

Wildfire prevention is everyone’s responsibility. National Forest lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin are under year-round fire restrictions. This means wood and charcoal fires are only allowed within provided metal fire rings and grills in open, developed campgrounds such as Nevada Beach. Portable stoves with on/off valves are permitted outside of developed areas with a valid permit. Visit Tahoe Living With Fire to get prepared, get informed, and get involved.

Until sites officially open, there is no parking, trash removal, or restroom facilities available, so plan accordingly. Bring a trash bag in case trash receptacles are full or unavailable, and never leave trash on the outside of trash receptacles. Trash and debris left behind can be harmful or fatal to wildlife and degrades Lake Tahoe. Where pets are allowed, always clean up after them and dispose of pet waste bags properly. Where gates are still closed, be sure to park legally, completely off the roadway, avoid parking on vegetation, and avoid blocking gates.

Lake Tahoe is bear country. Due to snow coverage, natural food sources for bears are scarce, so be extra vigilant and help keep Tahoe bears wild by properly securing food, garbage, and other scented items. Never leave scented items in vehicles, and remember to lock doors and windows. Do not approach bears or cubs, always keep your distance, and never feed bears or other wildlife, it’s illegal. Feeding wildlife encourages them to enter human-occupied areas to seek out human food and garbage and disturbs their natural feeding habits. Bear canisters are required for overnight visits in Desolation Wilderness and are highly recommended in other backcountry areas. Visit and for more helpful information.

The Forest Supervisor’s office in South Lake Tahoe is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4:30 pm and will be closed on Monday, May 29, 2023, in observance of Memorial Day. Normal hours resume Tuesday, May 30.

For more information on staying safe and recreating responsibly on National Forests, visit Know Before You GoRecreate Responsibly, and Leave No Trace. Follow the LTBMU on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.

Stay safe, and have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

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