Tahoe Moonrises

Before moving here in ’95 I’d never really given moonrises their due. Maybe because it was always rainy, foggy or just too darn humid to see anything back East. In reality it’s probably because I didn’t live anywhere that showcased the moon as spectacularly as Lake Tahoe – and I didn’t know people as crazy the locals here who do all sorts of weird stuff in that ethereal glow.

Partying with Natural Fireworks

At Squaw, the nastiest skiers attack closed sections of the mountain – the Tram Face in particular – under the light of the moon because they know they won’t get caught…if they live. Snowshoers revel in these bright nights, too. Up above Granlibakken at Paige Meadows people drag kegs and wood and whatever else they need for late-night vigils on nights when the moon is round. In summer, mountain bikers get it on with lights which are powered by batteries that have been adapted to fit in their water bottle holders. I was recently asked to join a group of world-class athletes in a moonlight paddleboarding rally later this summer. The plan is to cross the Lake from East to West. Actually these guys will have already crossed the long way (South to North, roughly 21 miles) earlier that day – I’m just one of the hacks who’ll join them for the ‘easy’ passage 10 miles to the East Shore.

The view from Blackwood's Picnic Area

But one of the best things to do on a Full Moon is simply pick a good spot and watch it rise. Tahoe’s West Shore is one of the best places in the world to watch a moonrise. You can have a drink at Sunnyside or in Homewood, or go even more low key and hit the public pier and BBQ area directly across from Blackwood Canyon. This is a five minute drive from Tahoe City – you just go a couple miles past Sunnyside and watch for the “Blackwood / Caspian Wilderness” sign. There are a number of grills and picnic benches. For the romantically inclined there’s even a beautiful old stump with a 2-person bench carved on the lake-facing side and a big old heart on the back.

Two Lovebirds on the bench for the first time

Another incredible place to take in a Tahoe moonrise is at the top of any mountain peak. The easiest to reach are those at Squaw because the tram runs all summer. Once there you can either hang at the huge decks of High Camp or hike 30 minutes and reach your favorite ski summit. The amazing thing about being this high is that you literally feel the pendulum of the universe (stay with me): you’ll watch a burning sun disappear in the lower ranges that approach the Valley and then, just like watching tennis on TV, glance the opposite direction and you’ll see the first fringe of that impossibly-colored moon coming over the eastern side of the Sierra and light the Lake on silver fire.

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