Water Venues in Nevada
The mega water draw of the Sierra Nevadas and the second deepest lake in the United States, Tahoe is nothing to pass up. Known for its crystal-clear water, many visitors opt for stand-up paddleboarding, surfing from one beach to the other. But look out for Tahoe Tessie—the dragon-dinosaur-beast that legend says lurks beneath Tahoe’s calm waters.
In stark contrast to Tahoe are the brown desert-like environs of the 195-square-mile, blue-green Pyramid Lake, the largest water hole situated entirely in Nevada. It was named one of the top public fisheries in the world by Flyfishing & Tying Journal due to its record-size Lahontan cutthroat trout that celebrities, foreign royalty, and even a U.S. president have pursued. It also is home to the endangered cui-ui suckerfish, which is found nowhere else in the world (and is off limits to anglers). Boaters, jet skiers, kayakers, and wakeboarders also love the lake for its secluded, undeveloped setting.
Water Venues in California
Scotts Flat Lake
Near Nevada City (the West’s whitewater hub), this forested mountain lake permits most types of boating (except jet and waterskiing) and is ideal for paddleboarding. Powerboats occasionally disrupt the tranquility of beaches, coves, and evergreens, but the fish are plentiful, especially rainbow and brown trout, which are stocked in spring and summer. One caveat: campers beware of gregarious, food-hungry bears.
Located between Grass Valley and Colfax, this 900-acre lake with 26 miles of shoreline is perfect for waterskiing, with many coves and long open stretches of water. Fishing is accessible from boat or shore. Although drought can plunge water levels to new lows, there still is plenty of the wet stuff for water activities.
Twenty miles west of Nevada City, Englebright was formed along the Yuba River by Englebright Dam. It’s recognized for its boating and fishing, and also is lauded for its unique “boat-in-camping only” provision—boaters tie up for the night and camp using only their packed-in equipment.