Lake Tahoe is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range with a surface elevation at 6,226 feet above sea level. The lake splits California and Nevada with 2/3 in California and 1/3 in Nevada. It is the largest Alpine lake in North America at 22 miles long, 12 miles wide and covers a surface area of 192 square miles; it has 72 miles of shoreline. Lake Tahoe is the third deepest lake in North America while the tenth deepest in the world. At its deepest point, the lake is 1,645 feet located near Crystal Bay with the average depth at 989 feet.
Lake Tahoe is considered geologically young as it was formed about 10,000 to 11,000 years ago. Glaciers are responsible for carving out the valleys that define Emerald Bay, Fallen Leaf Lake and Cascade Lake. Emerald Bay is actually the most photographed island in a freshwater lake in North America.
The lake is 99.9 percent pure, with visibility up to 75 feet below the surface and holds an estimated 39.75 trillion gallons of water. Most of the lake loses water due to evaporation. The summer’s heat can warm the upper 12 feet of the lake to about 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Lake Tahoe never freezes mainly because a constant temperature maintained at depths below 700 feet of 39 degrees Fahrenheit.
The area surrounding the lake is referred to as Lake Tahoe or just Tahoe. The whole area shaped by the ice age is known as the Lake Tahoe Basin. Mount Tallac is the highest peak rising from the shoreline at 9,735 feet and the highest point in the Tahoe Basin is Freel Peak at 10,881 feet. At lake level, the annual snowfall averages 125 inches, while at alpine skiing elevations, the snowfall averages 300 to 500 inches per year. The sun shines during 75% of the year, or 274 days in Tahoe.