Lake Tahoe in October
It happens every year: the subtle changes of the season, and you start to see and feel that summer is over. You look at the clock and think it’s 5 pm and it’s already getting dark? The pine needles cover the yards and driveways and the squirrels and bears are foraging for winter. Fall is in the air, the weather is unpredictable, and some years here at the Lake autumn lasts a little longer than some would like, and other years the snow starts just as the World Series begins and doesn’t stop till Easter. Fall gets those cold snaps where everybody up here gets fooled and breaks out the snowblowers and start to hunker down. Then it warms up and we have a spectacular Indian summer, and it’s back to the beach. It’s an adventure here a Lake Tahoe in October, kind of a gift from Mother Nature, where you can have every season in one month.
Tahoe can be very predictable though, as in you know you’re going to find something to do, no matter what. From fish festivals to huge Halloween parties and fall foliage to wine tasting, there’s no shortage of events happening, either natural or man-made. Oh, and we have a visit from one of the Beach Boys doing Pet Sounds.
If you look around into the mountains anywhere around the Lake the aspen groves that sprout from the various creeks are popping with bright yellows and reds of the turning leaves: a great contrast to the green of the Jeffery pines and other evergreens. Taylor Creek on the south end of the lake flows from Fallen Leaf Lake and meanders through the forest and through a meadow and dumps out into Tahoe. It is a very special place in the fall. Not only can you see all the colors of the trees and bushes, you can see the cycle of life for a species of fish. The Kokanee salmon do their annual fall migration from Tahoe up the creek to spawn. And the good people of South Lake Tahoe throw a party with the Fall Fish Fest October 1 and 2 from 10 am to 4 pm. A full weekend is planned at the Taylor Creek Center off of Highway 89 (Emerald Bay Road): nature walks, streamside programs and a visit from Smokey the Bear and Lulu the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.
On the same weekend as the Fall Fish Fest (Oct. 1 and 2), just down road on Hwy. 89 at Camp Richardson is Oktoberfest. So after witnessing the natural wonders of what Tahoe has to offer, go grab a beer and a bratwurst at the 22nd annual Oktoberfest, where the people at Camp Rich do the worldwide folk festival right. A well-stocked beer and wine garden, an assortment of German food and desserts, and the crowd pleasing Gruber Family Band performs lively polka music, and it’s free to attend.
Keeping with the festival motif, down at Stateline is the South Lake Tahoe Food and Wine Festival at Harrah’s and Harveys on October 21-23. The 7th annual event of wine tastings, dinners, concerts, and parties is a great excuse to get up to the lake and spend the weekend at a casino. Friday night is the right night for drinking and dancing, and you can start the festivities with some Sake Tasting at Harrah’s Sushi Kai from 10 pm to 11pm and discuss and taste the different types of the Japanese rice wine. Then, if you want to change gears completely, head on over to the Peek Kick Off Party inside of Peek Nightclub at Harrah’s, starting at 10:30 on Friday night and going to Saturday morning around 4:30 am. Sponsored by Grey Goose Vodka, the specialty drink will be Paris Mules, which are sure to get you dancing to the club music that thumps all night. After a long night of drinking, what could be better than a long day of drinking and eating? Saturday, October 22 at Harrah’s Special Events Center is the Grand Market Expo, the signature event of the festival. A wide selection of foods, wines, craft beers and liquors from culinary masters. $50 per person and well worth it. Great wines from some top notch vineyards and so much good food you will definitely get your money’s worth. Go to Caesars.com for more information or call 1-800-786-8208.
The week before the food and wine fest, Lake Tahoe will have a special treat when Brian Wilson presents Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary celebration and final performance in its entirety, along with rare cuts and greatest hits, at Harrah’s inside the South Shore Room on October 14 at 7:30 pm. A world tour for the celebrated iconic album, and a date is set right here in our small town.
Then, to wrap up the month, is another type of special treat with the 38th annual Freaker’s Ball, Lake Tahoe’s largest, oldest and most extravagant Halloween bash being held October 29 at MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa. The festivities start at 8 pm in four different venues inside the casino. Pretty much the entire casino will be turned into one big monster mash, and if you’re a fan of the pagan holiday this will be one frightful and raucous event. All sorts of ghoulish fun will be had, with costume contests and all sorts of crazy characters wandering here and there. While you’re there, raise your glass to the state of Nevada, which shares the same birthday as Halloween, and say thank you to the casual state drinking laws that let you party all night long.
— Brendan Packer