Mention Nevada and most folks think of Vegas casinos and clanging slot machines. But what about Lake Tahoe? No, not the ski resorts. We're talking about taking a scenic run of a whole different sort, with the Lake Tahoe Corvette Club.
Every spring, when the snow has pretty much melted off the mountains, this organization hosts a world-class gathering in South Lake Tahoe, drawing the likes of legends such as Bob Bondurant, Tony DeLorenzo, and Dick Guldstrand, along with a first-rate collection of Corvettes.
Rather than dwell on the specific cars, though, we thought it better to focus on the draw: Lake Tahoe and the surrounding sights. A couple years ago, club organizers briefly considered some other locations for the annual event, but that idea was overwhelmingly voted down by members. No surprise, since Tahoe not only has unparalleled beauty, but also some epic driving experiences. What better way to enjoy your Vette than going on one of the most exhilarating road trips you could ask for? We'll supply a few highlights for your next vacation.
To get your bearings, we should point out that Lake Tahoe straddles the state line between California and Nevada. Think of a clock face, and the dividing line extends basically between high noon and just before six. On the left half, the California side, the destinations are mostly of the natural variety. You'll also encounter some striking scenery on the Nevada side (but might also strike gold at some of the casinos). We'll start our tour in South Lake Tahoe, right at the MontBleu resort, where the club held its event this spring.
Head clockwise from there on Route 89 to Richardson Park, where you can pull right up the shore and spot some lingering snowcaps. Then push on to Emerald Bay, undoubtedly one of the most spectacular vistas you'll ever find. Located at about 7 o'clock, the park there features Vikingsholm, one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the western hemisphere. There's also a hand-built, stone "tea house" on Fannette Island, where the lady of the mansion used to have her butler take her in a rowboat for a pleasant afternoon diversion.
But we have more diversions in mind beside this eye-pleasing waypoint. Pushing clockwise on the road that circumnavigates the lake (take Route 28 through quaint little Tahoe City) to Gar Woods Bar & Grille, overlooking Carnelian Bay. This restaurant is named after those famous mahogany runabouts from the '30s and '40s. You can still see some fine examples on the lake dating back to this era. Of course, hundreds of restaurants line the shores of Lake Tahoe, so we'll leave that up to your personal tastes, but we've also had good meals at Jason's and outstanding burgers at the funky Char Pit grille in King's Beach on the north end of the lake.
After passing through Kings Beach (a great picnic spot, as well), crossing into the Nevada side of Lake is marked by the sudden appearance of a few casinos. We've heard of many folks getting married here (and at South Lake, too), since wedding licenses are easily obtained and most wedding chapels will help you with the paperwork, so gettin' hitched can happen without a hitch. (And some say the same is true of getting a divorce in nearby Reno, which usually takes a couple weeks, with no residency or hearings required.)
Our convoy of Corvettes took a slight detour off Route 28 at Incline, heading up the hill on Route 431 to an overlook on the way to Mt. Rose, where we gathered for a group photo. Then we backtracked to Route 28 to continue around the lake, threading through the sandstone canyons near Sand Harbor Beach, another pretty spot that overlooks the aptly named Crystal Bay. The water is so clear, you can see boulders far below. (Note, however, that Sand Harbor can be very crowded in the summertime, so don't assume you'll be able to pull in there, and if you park on the main road, you might find a ticket on your windshield when you return.)