Are you thinking about visiting Lake Tahoe in November? We are going to answer 10 important questions you might have about your November trip to Lake Tahoe, including key things to know about weather, costs, crowds, roads and what you can do in the late fall season.
Is November a good time to visit Lake Tahoe?
Yes! November is a fantastic time of year to visit Lake Tahoe because it is quieter and more affordable. After spending a fantastic week exploring Lake Tahoe in November ourselves, we think late fall strikes the perfect balance between costs, crowds, weather and activities in the area.
In this guide we will cover:
- 10 key things to know about visiting Lake Tahoe in November
- In depth information about temperatures, prices and tourism
- Best things to do on a November visit to Lake Tahoe
Let’s get right into the 10 most important things you should know about planning a trip to Lake Tahoe in November!
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Why Visit Lake Tahoe In November?
During the late fall month of November in Lake Tahoe you can expect cool temperatures, empty hiking trails and parking lots, more availability and lower prices at hotels, and the ski lifts to begin operation ready for the winter snow season.
Visiting Lake Tahoe in November comes with its limitations, namely the fact you won’t be spending your time lounging on beaches and swimming in the crystal clear waters.
However, late fall is the perfect time to visit Lake Tahoe if you plan to spend your time hiking, exploring and photographing the vast natural beauty of the largest alpine lake in North America.
We had a genuinely memorable experience during our November visit to Lake Tahoe and can’t recommend the late fall highly enough.
1. Is Lake Tahoe Crowded In November?
Most tourists flock to Lake Tahoe between May and September for the warm summer season which has a real problem with overcrowding or between December and March for the ski season.
November is one of the quietest tourism months of the year at Lake Tahoe, which makes it the perfect time to visit if you want to avoid the worst of the clear overcrowding issue.
We never had any issues getting parked at trailheads, taking photos at popular spots or finding hotel rooms last minute during our trip to Lake Tahoe in November. It is about as good as it gets for having a flexible itinerary in this area.
How Many People Visit Lake Tahoe Annually?
Lake Tahoe is an immensely popular year round travel destination and it is widely regarded as one of the very best vacation spots in the US.
Around 15 million people visit Lake Tahoe annually which is a huge volume of tourists for such a small area. Consider for a moment that Yellowstone National Park only receives around 4 million visitors each year for reference.
What Does That Mean For You?
Well, it means that visiting Lake Tahoe in November is about as good as it gets from a crowds perspective.
You have more than likely seen photos of Lake Tahoe in summer when you can’t get parked at trailheads, the beaches are so busy that you can’t see any sand and hotel costs are exorbitant because they fill every night without fail.
In November, you won’t have any of those problems. Sure, you won’t be able to swim in the lake, but at least you will be able to get parked in lots leading down to the beaches!
The only other month to consider for avoiding the Lake Tahoe crowds is April, but then you don’t benefit from the warm Christmas buzz beginning to grow.
2. What Is The Weather Like At Lake Tahoe In November?
The weather in Lake Tahoe in November is mixed with cold morning and evenings but pleasantly warm days, increased chance of rain and snow, and increased cloud coverage.
We found the weather during our week long stay in late November to be perfect for hiking during the day but we were cold at sunrise and sunset photo shoots.
These cooler conditions are part of the trade off for fewer crowds and cheaper prices in the Lake Tahoe area.
Is Lake Tahoe Cold In November?
Yes, Lake Tahoe has very cold mornings and nights in November.
If you don’t intend to be out and about at dawn and dusk, you will barely notice the coldest weather and as a result you will have no problems with cold weather in Lake Tahoe.
However, if you plan to be out watching sunrise at Emerald Bay State Park or sunset at Cave Rock like we were, you will need to pack heavy coats, gloves and hats.
Does It Snow In Lake Tahoe In November?
Snow is common at Lake Tahoe in November, especially towards the end of the month.
As the fall season transitions into winter in the High Sierras, the chance of snowfall in the Lake Tahoe area rapidly increases throughout the month of November from an average of 3.0 inches on the 1st to an average of 8.3 inches on the 30th.
If you want to photograph Lake Tahoe covered in snow, or you want to hit the ski slopes early in the season, you stand a good chance of being able to do both if you visit at the end of November.
It didn’t snow once during our trip to Lake Tahoe, but we tracked the weather and saw that a huge dumping of snow hit the area 2 days after we left.
Lake Tahoe November Temperatures
Let’s take a closer look at the high, low and average temperature statistics for Lake Tahoe in November:
- High Temperature – 56°F (13°C)
- Average Temperature – 41°F (5°C)
- Low Temperature – 27°F (-3°C)
- High Temperature – 45°F (7°C)
- Average Temperature – 34°F (1°C)
- Low Temperature – 23°F (-5°C)
As you can see, Lake Tahoe’s daytime highs drop by 11 degrees Fahrenheit between the beginning and end of November, whereas nightly lows drop by 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperatures of mid 50’s or even mid 40’s during the day if you visit Lake Tahoe later in November are great for hitting the trails.
It is just those chilly low temperatures you will have to contend with early and late that be a little less appealing!
Data source: Weather Spark
3. Are Roads Around Lake Tahoe Safe To Drive In November?
Yes, the roads are perfectly safe to drive around Lake Tahoe in November for the most part.
We had no issues at all for the duration of our stay, but we also had no snow, ice or rainfall. The roads can quickly become treacherous after rain or snow on those freezing cold November mornings so you need to be alert and stay on top of weather conditions.
All being well with the weather, you won’t have to make any compromises or accommodations. We were able to see every single attraction, hike every trail and access every restaurant we wanted.
One of the most important things to remember if you visit Lake Tahoe in November is to stay on top of checking current conditions of highways in the area.
This will tell you about any road closures or traffic buildups and you can even see live webcams from various roads around the area.
You should be fine in November, especially in the first half of the month. But if you are in Tahoe during a heavy late November snowfall, you may have to adapt your plans to be safe.
4. Are Lake Tahoe Restaurants Open In November?
You will be happy to hear that all restaurants are open as usual in Lake Tahoe in November.
In fact, not only are they all open, but they won’t be constantly full and you won’t have to make reservations weeks in advance like you may have to in summer.
We had no problems walking right into any restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner on all sides of Lake Tahoe in November.
There are still one or two upscale places that you should book ahead of time if that is your scene, but otherwise you will be perfectly fine for eating out.
Top Rated Restaurants Around Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is overflowing with excellent restaurants, cafes, lunch spots and snack bars.
We tried to eat a really diverse range of food in both North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe so we could recommend a bunch of great places for you to try.
Here are some of our top restaurant picks around Lake Tahoe:
South Lake Tahoe
- California Burger Company
- Base Camp Pizza Co
- Bert’s Cafe
- Himmel Haus
- Sprouts Cafe
- Cold Water Brewery
- Dragonfly Bagel Co
- My Thai Cuisine
- The Naked Fish
North Lake Tahoe
- Sugar Leaf Tahoe
- Inclined Burgers and Brews
- Bite Restaurant
- T’s Mesquite Rotisserie
- Mountain High Sandwich Co
- Soule Domain
5. Are Hotels In Lake Tahoe Expensive In November?
Lake Tahoe is a high end tourist destination and many houses around the lake are second homes for the wealthy. So naturally you can expect hotel prices to be higher than the average US vacation spot.
With that said, by visiting Lake Tahoe in November you are giving yourself the best chance to pick up a cheaper than usual hotel room in the area. You will benefit from lower occupancy rates which in turn will drive prices down to encourage bookings.
We have been traveling the world for 6 years and we even run a hotels blog so we know more than most about hotel prices.
After staying at multiple hotels in South Lake Tahoe, North Lake Tahoe and Tahoe City, we were pleasantly surprised by affordability in November.
Where To Stay In South Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe is by far the most popular, busy and amenity heavy area to stay.
You will find the highest volume of hotels, restaurants, shops, grocery stores and attractions in South Lake Tahoe.
Here are just some of the top rated hotels in South Lake Tahoe:
Want to stay in South Lake Tahoe? Read our guide to the 12 best hotels in South Lake Tahoe on our sister site Best Hotels Anywhere to see your top rated options.
Where To Stay In North Lake Tahoe
North Lake Tahoe is a much quieter, calmer and more relaxing place to stay.
There are fewer restaurants and hotels but the beaches and hiking trails are also less crowded. Hotels are typically more expensive along the more upscale northern shores.
Here are just some of the top rated hotels in North Lake Tahoe:
Want to stay in North Lake Tahoe? Read our guide to the 10 best hotels in North Lake Tahoe on our sister site Best Hotels Anywhere to see your top rated options.
Where To Stay In Tahoe City
Tahoe City on the western shores of Lake Tahoe bridges the gap between the lively south and the sleep north.
You will find a nice balance of atmosphere, places to eat out and attractions. However, there are few hotels in this middle-of-the-road region of Lake Tahoe.
Here are just some of the top rated hotels in Tahoe City:
Want to stay in Tahoe City? Read our guide to the 5 best hotels in Tahoe City on our sister site Best Hotels Anywhere to see your top rated options.
6. What Are The Best Things To Do In Lake Tahoe In November?
A November visit to Lake Tahoe is going to mean good news and bad news in terms of what you can do.
On the positive side, you can do almost everything that you could do in summer but without the crowds. Plus, you might even be able to ski at the end of the month if you get snow. There is a festive Christmas spirit in the air and the ice rink at Heavenly Resort is open for the kids.
On the negative side, you are not going to be able to swim in Lake Tahoe in November like you would be able to in summer. It isn’t beach weather and the water is freezing cold anyway.
Other than the typical sun, beach and swim side of things, you can still do everything else and more because of the transitioning seasons.
There are so many fun things to do in Lake Tahoe for every type of visitor.
Here’s what you can’t miss in November:
- Lake Tahoe sunrise and sunset photography
- Hiking several fun trails to incredible overlooks
- Ride the Heavenly Gondola later in the month
- Ski or snowboard if there is snow on the slopes
- Explore the famous Emerald Bay State Park
- Eat, drink and relax on the beaches (with plenty of layers)
The beauty of visiting Lake Tahoe in November is being able to do the most popular activities without the overwhelming crowds.
This huge benefit is not something to take lightly. Just ask anyone who has visited in summer!
7. Is November A Good Time To Hike In Lake Tahoe?
November is a fantastic time of year for hiking in Lake Tahoe as long as the weather is fine. Daytime temperatures are idyllic for hiking in light layers and not overheating.
All of the best hikes in Lake Tahoe are open, quiet and relatively easy to find parking in November.
Compare that to summer when you will seriously struggle to park and the trails are always full for what might just be the very best reason to visit Lake Tahoe in November.
Top Hiking Trails
Hiking was one of the things we were most looking forward to in Lake Tahoe and the trails did not disappoint.
We took on some of the more famous hikes but we also found a hidden gem here and there to add to our completed list.
The best part about hiking in Lake Tahoe is gaining altitude and ending at an elevated overlook with spectacular views over the deep blue lake and snow capped mountains.
Here are some of the top hiking trails you can’t miss on a first visit to Lake Tahoe:
- Eagle Falls Trail
- Cave Rock Trail
- Chimney Beach Trail
- Bonsai Rock Trail
- Monkey Rock Trail
- Eagle Rock Trail
- Mt Tallac Trail
8. Is November A Good Time For Photography In Lake Tahoe?
Lake Tahoe is a truly magical place to photograph any time of year.
Many of the best photo spots are at the end of hikes or on beaches and to reach those places you need to be able to park your car.
An enormous and understated benefit to visiting Lake Tahoe in November is being able to get parked at lots leading to the most amazing photo spots.
The lack of crowds on hiking trails and at popular photo spots more than makes up for the lack of sunbathing in our opinion.
Another pro for November is later mornings and earlier sunsets for photographers who want to shoot at dawn and dusk. You can set your alarm later and be back for dinner at a reasonable hour.
Best Photo Spots
We knew Lake Tahoe was going to be incredibly photogenic but we were still blown away by just how impressive the landscape is at almost every turn.
Our cameras took a real hammering and we brought home a wide range of postcard perfect images.
Here are some of our favorite photography locations around Lake Tahoe:
- Bonsai Rock
- Boathouse on the Pier
- Eagle Rock summit
- Eagle Falls
- Fannette Island
- Monkey Rock summit
Interested in photography? Here are the 10 best sunrise and sunset photo spots in Lake Tahoe that you can’t miss on your visit.
9. Can You Ski At Lake Tahoe In November?
The Lake Tahoe ski season typically begins around mid November or Thanksgiving weekend which means you can usually ski if you visit at the end of November.
Did you know that Lake Tahoe is home to world class ski resorts?
There are so many downhill slopes and backcountry tracks to explore in the ski season, here are just some of the most famous destinations around Lake Tahoe:
When Do The Ski Lifts Open?
Exact opening dates for Lake Tahoe ski lifts are dependent on snowfall in the month of November but aim for Thanksgiving weekend to avoid disappointment of arriving early to no snow.
With plenty of snow early to mid November, you can expect the slopes to open a few days earlier than originally planned.
The Heavenly Gondola began operation for the winter season on our last day in Lake Tahoe.
10. What Do You Need To Pack For Lake Tahoe In November?
Packing for a trip to Lake Tahoe in November is going to be all about layers. Keep your swimsuits at home!
You will need lots of layers and plenty of outfit options because the weather is changeable and the temperature varies heavily throughout the day.
One thing is for sure, you need to pack a robust pair of hiking shoes or trail runners in addition to one or two separate pairs of shoes for the evening.
Plan to keep your hiking gear completely separated from your going out clothes.
Remember, mornings and late evenings will be cold enough for heavy layers but between 10.00am and 5.00pm it can be warm enough for light layers or even shorts.
Let’s start with the basics:
- Underwear and normal socks
- Hiking socks (thick like Darn Tough)
- Shorts and light long pants for hiking
- Moisture wicking t-shirts for hiking
- Light and medium layers to day pack when hiking
- Evening clothes for dinner and drinks
- Sunglasses and maybe a baseball cap
- Heavy coat, gloves and beanie hat for sunrises and sunsets
- At least 2 pairs of shoes for hiking and evenings
- Camera, lenses, tripod and plenty of data storage
After that it comes down to your personal travel style.
Certain areas around Lake Tahoe are upscale and swanky but there are dozens of great places you can eat out in your hiking gear.
Lake Tahoe In November FAQ’s
Let’s take a quick look at some of the most frequently asked questions about visiting Lake Tahoe In November.
Yes, cheaper hotel prices, fewer crowds and comfortable hiking conditions during the day make November one of the best months of the year to visit Lake Tahoe. You won’t be able to swim or sunbathe, but hiking trails will be empty and you can even ski at the end of the month.
Mornings and evenings are cold around Lake Tahoe in November, so if you plan to hike early and be out for sunrise or sunset photography you will need to take heavy coats, gloves and hats. The temperature warms up significantly during the day and becomes perfect for hiking.
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We hope this guide to visiting Lake Tahoe in November helps with planning your trip to the Sierra Nevada Mountains!
Please let us know if you have any questions about visiting Lake Tahoe in November below in the comments.
Mark and Kristen
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