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October at Tahoe South

If Tahoe does experience a shoulder season, it’s now. Plenty of people will still come visit for various reasons revolving around fall fun and Halloween shenanigans, but with the change of seasons, it gets a bit calmer with fewer crowds and clutter. Maybe it’s the exit of Tahoe’s many fans, maybe it’s the transition to fall, regardless, it feels like a breath of fresh air. An eventful end of summer might have left you in a haze, but refreshing fall temps are here to pick you up.

Fall Colors near Lake Tahoe

With fall comes many new opportunities to get out and enjoy Tahoe. Fall festivities take on a completely different energy while still allowing you to enjoy all of the outdoors. The forests’ colors flip, the weather is comfortably cool, you’re swapping drinks on the water for cider by the fire. Now that the seasonal congestion has largely left, it’s also the perfect time to tackle those activities that may not have been as ideal wading through summer traffic.

Before the mountain resorts open and the snow is dumping, many people don’t know what to do with themselves. Don’t be one of those people. Fall in Tahoe South is all the fun with even more new and different ways to experience this great place.

Pick-your-own season

For me, to officially ring in the fall season, I need to get on a farm or orchard of some sort and pick my own fruit and produce. I ventured out to Apple Hill Farm’s High Hill Ranch recently and, as always, this is one of the best ways to do it. Not only can you grab apples, pumpkins, and even honey from hives on the farm, but the entire farm has all sorts of vendors set up like a giant flea market with artists, artisans, and creators of all sorts.

On top of the farm’s selection of fruits, they also make their own pies, salsas, sauces, fudge, and plenty of apple infused beverages such as juice, cider, hard cider, wine, and even cider milkshakes. There’s so much to see and do on this one farm, pepper in some nostalgia with a tractor hayride through the orchards. If you’re looking for more pick-your-own farms in the area, check out this list compiled for the El Dorado County.

Peep the fall colors
Fall is, of course, the best time to experience the colorful foliage as aspen leaves take on fiery hues. Not just the trees, but various flowers and other plants will turn from their summer shades and take on vibrant new colors. We’re just starting to see any real changes now with much more to come in the next couple weeks.

Fall Colors near Lake Tahoe

Fall Colors Hope Valley

Hiking around is a preferable way to do some leaf peeping, and in that regard, Fallen Leaf Lake is an exceptional option right here on the south shore. This area will also give you access to many other trails with astounding colors and views since it neighbors one of Tahoe’s highest peaks, Mt. Tallac.

Fallen Leaf Lake

Photo by Christian Arballo via Flickr

A short drive up the east side of Lake Tahoe will get you to Spooner Lake, which has a nice 2-mile loop around the water and makes for an easy wildflower walk. For something a bit more special, I recommend jumping on the rim trail at Spooner summit (which you can drive to) and making the trip up to Marlette Lake. Although a bit longer at close to 10 miles out and back, as you approach Marlette Lake and the stunning aspens that border the water, you’ll be happy you made the trek.

Some of the most dramatic colors will be seen in Hope Valley - check out our previous post for details on this spot and some more great places to see fall foliage.

Fall Festivals & Events
Arguably the best part of fall is indulging in what makes fall, fall. In this case, I am referring to the many festivals and events that celebrate and highlight food, fun, and entertainment unique to this season.

The first weekend of October is one that you’ll want to stick around for. For starters, Camp Richardson’s Oktoberfest is back October 6th-7th for their 24th year of celebrating ethnic foods and authentic German beer and wine. All weekend long you can enjoy great eats, local vendors and live music with other activities for kids such as a climbing wall, pumpkin patch, bounce house, and a bungee platform. If you’re feeling competitive, you can enter in some fun contests for a chance to win awesome prizes! Come ready to compete in a beer stein holding, yodeling or dress to impress for the costume competition. To make things even better, admission and parking are free.

Kokanee Salmon in Taylor Creek, Tahoe South

Kokanee Salmon at their peak.

That same weekend (October 6th-7th) is also the Fall Fish Fest at Taylor Creek. With the Kokanee salmon swimming upstream every fall, it is the best time to experience the salmon migration and it only lasts for a short window of time. The weekend events include children's activities and educational streamside programs. Not to be missed is the return of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's giant inflatable fish - the fish's tail serves as the gateway to fun activity stations for kids. The entire festival is educational and great for young ones, and even features a salmon feed.

If you’re itchin’ for Halloween, get in the right mindset at one of the Tahoe Heritage Foundation’s Tallac Historic Site Haunted Tours. In the evenings of October 19th-21st, experience an interactive haunted walkway at the Pope-Baldwin Estates, on the Tallac Historic Site grounds.

Haunted Tours Tallac Historic Site

That following weekend is also loaded with even more celebrating of food and flavor, in addition to the always festive Halloween fun. From October 26th-28th the South Lake Tahoe Food and Wine Festival returns for its ninth year at Harrah's Lake Tahoe. The weekend entails whiskey tasting, a Grand Market Expo, Peek a Boo Masquerade Ball, dancing, entertainment, and a champagne brunch.

South Lake Tahoe Food & Wine Festival

South Lake Tahoe Food & Wine Festival | Photo Credit Tahoe Daily Tribune

On Saturday, October 27th, come out and mingle with the creatures of the night at the Freaker’s Ball Halloween party. Starting at 8pm, get to MontBleu Resort for an epic dance party featuring  DJs, GoGo Dancers, Laser Lights, Plus $10,000 in cash & prizes costume contest. You’ll have two places to party with all of this fun happening in their MontBleu Showroom & Opal Nightclub. Bounce between the two and get freaky with everyone.

Freaker's Ball MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa Lake Tahoe

Freaker's Ball MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa Lake Tahoe

The Valhalla Art, Music and Theatre Festival also has various events that will run through the end of November!

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Cam Schilling

Cameron is a creative marketing professional with a passion for nature, music and responsible business. Having grown up in Maine, any day getting dirty outside is a day well spent. When he's not working on his own projects, he is out exploring the many marvels of Tahoe in search of the next perfect trek or hideaway.

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