Have you ever picked a vacation destination using Pinterest? I believe that Sand Harbor State Park on Lake Tahoe might be the first place I’ve visited after discovering it on Pinterest. It was this sunset photo by Joshua Cripps that made me want to go there. What I didn’t realize at the time was that this photo was taken in January. After visiting there last summer I discovered that there is no way Joshua Cripps could have taken this photo in the summer because there would be too many people in the way! As with many of our country’s awe-inspiring natural wonders, Sand Harbor is stunningly beautiful, but, because of its beauty, also extremely popular, and therefore extremely crowded. The park was about a half-hour drive from where we stayed in South Lake Tahoe.
Although there is a long stretch of sandy beach, we thought the main attraction of this park was not the sand, but the boulders.
I liked that the water depth increases gradually and the boulders provide shelter from the waves, creating ideal wading spots for very young children.
My kids love to climb rocks, so this combination of swimming and rock climbing was perfect for them.
Many of the boulders are submerged under water, but are shallow enough that you can stand on them. The water was really clear and blue.
Of course, my kids wanted to swim out to the really big rock formations.
There is a Boater’s Beach where we saw everything from motor boats stand up paddle boards to inflatable rafts.
The beach area was colorful, but very crowded with umbrellas, folding chairs, blankets, and towels. This is not a good place for quiet sunbathing. We recommend you find a place to set your belongings, then get in the water.
It was mostly a family friendly atmosphere. We did see some people (parents, actually) drinking beer, but they were not behaving obnoxiously. There were many families at Sand Harbor the day we visited.
The park had restrooms and a snack bar. We planned to get ice cream at the snack bar, but when we saw the huge line coming out of the building, we decided to postpone our ice cream treat until after we left the park.
My kids thought Sand Harbor was “really awesome” and “lots of fun,” but at least one of them thought that the water was too cold. The sand quality was good for building sand castles (if you can find a spot to build one). My husband thought it was the most crowded beach he’d ever visited. My advice if you want to visit Sand Harbor is to go early in the day. As I mentioned in my post about Round Hill Pines Beach & Marina, Lake Tahoe is NOT a place for beach hopping. Pick one and stay there because the parking lots fill up by mid-day.
Ready to visit?
Sand Harbor State Park
2005 Nevada 28
Incline Village, NV
Entry fee: $12 per vehicle (Apr. 15–Oct. 15); $7 per vehicle (Oct. 16–Apr. 14); $2 discount for Nevada residents
May 1–Memorial Day Weekend: 8 a.m.–7 p.m.
Memorial Day Weekend–Labor Day: 8 a.m.–9 p.m.
Labor Day–Sept. 30: 8 a.m.–7 p.m.
Oct. 1–Apr. 30: 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
Many thanks to the PR Agency for the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority for coordinating my trip.
This attraction appears in my e-book, How to Visit All 50 States in 12 Trips.