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Lake Tahoe – Largest Alpine Lake in North America

Lake Tahoe is a fresh water lake located in Sierra Nevada of the United States. It is about 35 km long and 19 km wide. This lake is almost 2 million years old. It was formed by vertical motion(normal) faulting. The upliftment of the block created the Carson Range on the east and the main Sierra Nevada crest on the west. Then the eruptions from the extinct volcano Mount Pluto formed a volcanic dam on the northern side.

Subsequently, melting snow filled the southern and lowest part of the basin to form the ancestral Lake Tahoe. The continuous rain and runoff added additional water in the lake. The Lake is so large that its surface looks convex due to curvature of the Earth. We will see some of the important points about this lake in below section.

Lake Tahoe - Largest Alpine Lake in North America

Lake Tahoe – Largest Alpine Lake in North America

Also Read: Notre-Dame Basilica – Most Visited Monument in North America

  • It is the 2nd deepest lake in the United States after Crater Lake in Oregon.
  • It is the 16th deepest lake in the World.
  • It has a shoreline of about 116 km with a surface area of about 490 square kilometer.
  • It is known for its water quality and panoramic beauty of surrounding mountains on all the sides.
  • About two-thirds of the Lake shoreline is in California.
  • Lt. John C. Frémont was the first European-American to see Lake Tahoe during his second exploratory expedition on February 14, 1844.
  • Lake has a dry-summer continental climate and chilly winters with regular snowfall.
  • The testing of Lake Tahoe water reveals that it is 99.994% pure which means it is much cleaner than most of the commercially used distilled water.
  • The largest source of fine sediment particles to Lake Tahoe is urban storm water runoff, constituting 72% of the total fine sediment particle load.
  • Lake Tahoe is fed by 63 tributaries which drains an area about the same size as the lake and produce half its water, the other half by direct precipitation. More on wikipedia.
  • Another amazing fact about this lake is that it never freezes.
  • The only outlet it has through the Truckee river flowing northeast through Reno, Nevada, into Pyramid Lake which has no further outlet.
  • The flow in the Truckee River and the height of the lake are controlled by the Lake Tahoe Dam at the outlet.
  • The maximum designated limit to which the lake can be allowed to rise in order to store water is at 6,229.1 ft (1,898.6 m).
  • The geology of the lake is such that an earthquake on the normal faults present in the deeper portion of the lake can trigger a Tsunami with predicted wave heights on the order of 10 to 33 ft.
  • Freel Peak at 10,891 feet (3,320 m) is the highest peak of the Lake Tahoe Basin. Other important peaks in this basin are Monument Peak, Pyramid Peak and Mount Tallac.
  • Area around the lake was mostly inhabited by Washoe Native Americans.
  • There is a large rock called Cave Rock located on the southeastern shore of the lake is considered a sacred site for the Washoe Indians.
  • Prior to development of rail roads, lake was a very popular transportation hub for the surrounding area as mining and logging activities started.
  • Lake is also popular for Water Sports and beach activities. The various popular activities include parasailing, jet ski rentals, eco-friendly paddle sport rentals and fishing.
  • The lake also hosts one of the most prestigious wooden boat shows in the country, the Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance, organized every year in the month of August.
  • During skiing season, people from across the Nevada and California flock to the slopes around the lake for downhill skiing.
  • Lake is also a favorite spot for numerous hiking and mountain biking.
  • SCUBA diving is another favorite for tourists coming to the lake.
  • Fred Rogers became the first person to swim the lake across in 1955, and Erline Christopherson became the first woman to do so in 1962.
  • Lake Tahoe is home to Coast Guard Station Lake Tahoe.
  • Lake is a major tourist attraction in both Nevada and California.
  • Environmental pollution is one of the major challenges around the lake. In the past, construction activities around the lake led to clouding of the lake’s blue waters. Currently, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is regulating construction along the shoreline.
  • The League to Save Lake Tahoe (Keep Tahoe Blue) has been an environmental watchdog in the Lake Tahoe Basin for 50 years.

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