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Are There Sharks In Lake Tahoe | What Else Should I Be Concerned About

Are there sharks in Lake Tahoe ? This is one of only a few questions people have that can stand in the way of a great day out in Tahoe City.

What’s the best way to spend your summer? Swimming in Lake Tahoe! What’s the best way to spend your winter? Skiing in Lake Tahoe!

Lake Tahoe beautiful clear waters

Now, if you watched Jaws growing up, you probably developed some kind of shark phobia like myself and as we all know, when it comes to these carnivorous creatures, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

But are there sharks in Lake Tahoe? Is it safe to swim in Lake Tahoe? Or is Lake Tahoe dangerous in any way? If you have found yourself asking any of these questions, then keep reading because we are about to debunk some myths and reveal some truths!

Are There Sharks In Lake Tahoe?

An oceanic black tip shark swimming the clear waters

Let’s cut right to the chase. Are there any Sharks in Lake Tahoe? The short ( and relieving) answer is no! The reason for this is the fact that, although water is a shark’s natural habitat, the temperature conditions, especially in winter, are too cold for them which makes it hard to see their prey. 

In other words, even if there were sharks in Lake Tahoe (which there aren’t), it probably still would have been okay to swim in it because the sharks wouldn’t be able to see you- talk about brain freeze!

This doesn’t mean that you won’t feel the occasional, slippery fin brushing up against you. Remember that Lake Tahoe is a freshwater lake which means that it is home to a variety of freshwater fish. This also makes it an excellent place for a fishing adventure! 

Some of the fish that you might encounter include sockeye salmon, largemouth bass, golden shiner, mosquito fish, mountain whitefish and a variety of trout. Don’t worry, none of them fancy humans for dinner like alligators and other carnivores do.

The most biting that they will do is to bite onto your fishing hook which is a win for you and your family!

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Are There Any Snakes in Lake Tahoe?

Garter snake in the forest in Tahoe National Forest

If you hear a faint rattling sound, it is wise to mind your step because you might be approaching a rattlesnake which is one of the few snakes that you may encounter at Lake Tahoe.

Unfortunately, rattlesnakes are considered to be dangerous and venomous, regardless of the fact that they aren’t likely to attack unless they feel threatened. 

Thankfully, according to locals, it is unlikely to encounter a rattlesnake on your expedition. However, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the species and the actions to take in the event that you run into one. Here are a few tips:

Some things to be aware of  when encountering a snake

Firstly, it is important to pay attention to the snake’s hibernation schedule. Snakes usually hibernate in the winter and come out during spring. So, if you want to avoid them completely, it is best to visit Lake Tahoe during hibernation season. 

If you are brave enough to take the risk of encountering a rattlesnake, the first step to take is to remain conscious of their warning sounds. Rattlesnakes earned their name with good reason since they make a faint rattling sound to warn predators when they are feeling threatened.

So, if you hear a hissing sound or a rattling sound, be sure to mind your feet and check the area that you are walking through to spot the snake.

If you have spotted the rattlesnake, it is important not to aggravate or scare it because doing so will likely cause the snake to attack. Rather move in the opposite direction very slowly and explore a different part of the area. 

Do not try to kill the snake! Apart from the fact that dong this could harm Tahoe Lake’s ecosystem, snakes are a lot faster than many of us think and can pounce at a speed of up to 2.98 meters per second which is a lot faster than the average human can run!

Lastly, if you are unfortunate enough to get bitten by the snake, it is important to seek medical attention immediately! Take a look at this link for more information on what to do after a venomous snake bite.

Are there Crocodiles or Alligators in Lake Tahoe?

Crocodiles (alligators) on the rocks near the reservoir.

What is worse than encountering a rattlesnake on your swimming expedition? Encountering an Alligator of course! Thankfully, there haven’t been any reports of alligator or crocodile sightings or attacks in Lake Tahoe, but there are quite a few alligator species that inhabit the surrounding areas. 

Also, animals have been known to go on their own adventures causing them to end up in unfamiliar territory, so it is always a good idea to keep an eye open, but I wouldn’t worry too much about a real-life Crocodile Dundee situation!

If you tend to get a bit paranoid, like me, then there are a few interesting activities that you can do in Lake Tahoe, that don’t involve being in the water. One of these activities epic adventures includes Kayaking. 

Since rogue animals are even less likely to attack something as big as a kayak, this is one of the safest ways to have a blast in Lake Tahoe while avoiding the underwater life. No kayak? No problem!  

You can rent a kayak for the day at Lake Tahoe Kayak Rentals without having to dig too deep into your pockets. Just be sure not to damage your rental unless you want to pay for the damages!

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Are there bears in Lake Tahoe ?

Bear hunting salmon in Lake Tahoe

Now, we know that there are snakes in Lake Tahoe, but thankfully, there aren’t any alligators or sharks. This leaves the question: “Are there bears in Lake Tahoe?” Unfortunately, the answer to this one is a yes.

On the bright side, the Grizzly bears that used to roam the area died out quite a while ago which left Lake Tahoe to the Black Bears.

Although Black bears have been attributed to a few human deaths, studies have shown that you are more likely to be killed by a human as opposed to a black bear.

In fact, the statistics that revolve around the topic show that black bears kill less than one human per year! ( This means that there are certain years in which no humans get killed at all-I’m sure that a bear can’t kill half a human.)

Also, black bears, similarly to rattlesnakes, tend to keep to themselves unless they feel threatened in which case they are likely to attack. ( Hence the saying: Don’t poke the bear!)

Some things to be aware of when encountering a bear

You aren’t that likely to encounter a back bear on your expedition, but if you do, it certainly isn’t a death threat. Here are a few things that you can do if you encounter a bear in Lake Tahoe.

Rule number one is, naturally, never to threaten or approach the bear (unless you have a death wish.) If you do encounter a bear it is important to remember that the forest is its domain and you need to respect that.

Be sure to make direct eye contact with the bear and to stand as still as possible.  If you have any of your kids with you, pick them up and try to look at big as possible ( once again, it is important to do this without threatening the bear.)

The next thing to do would be to walk away as slowly and calmly as possible. Remember, a bear’s prey also runs when it encounters one, so by running, the bear will naturally assume that you are its prey. Calmness is the best policy with this one.

Have you ever heard of the saying: “ going into mamma bear mode?” In case you haven’t it refers to someone who gets aggressively defensive in order to protect someone and the saying exists for a reason.

If you get in the way of a mamma bear’s babies, she will most likely go into mamma bear mode. So, if you see any cute and fluffy bear cubs, resist the urge to pet them and rather get out of the area.

Camping in Lake Tahoe

And lastly, if you are camping in Lake Tahoe, be sure to lock your food away as the smell is likely to attract bears. This brings me to the next exciting item on the list of things to do in Lake Tahoe- camping!

Being in such a beautiful location with such spectacular things to do, can make it hard to fulfil your excitement-lust in one day.  So, why not make it a weekend expedition, pack your tents and invite your family and friends along on a camping expedition?

You can check out the campgrounds and book your stay here!

Is it safe to swim in Lake Tahoe?

Swimming in Lake Tahoe

So, now that we know what and what not to expect when it comes to dangerous wildlife, is it safe to swim in Lake Tahoe? Well, it all depends on how well you handle the cold! In general, it is safe to swim in Lake Tahoe.

Since it is a popular destination for water sports, many people do so. However, you may remember when we answered the question: “Are there sharks in Lake Tahoe”, we concluded that there aren’t for a very specific reason- the water is too cold!

Swimming is actually one of the most popular things to do in Lake Tahoe- especially in the summer! In fact, there are multiple indoor and outdoor pools for you to enjoy regardless of the season ( if you’re still skeptical of the rattlesnakes.)

But if you are looking for the real deal, Lake Tahoe has lakes within lakes, within lakes. You can choose between cooling off in the Truckee River, Fallen Leaf Lake, Donner Lake or Spooner Lake. ( Don’t forget to try out some water bombs of shallow dives!)

Alternatively, Lake Tahoe is also home to a breathtaking beach where you can ride the waves on your surfboard or simply cool down by swimming through the waves. 

The water can be cold in Lake Tahoe

However, park officials have warned about temperature shock in the icy lake for those of us whose bodies aren’t used to the freezing water temperatures which is also known as “cold water shock” and can be life-threatening if you aren’t careful!

Some of the “warning signs” to look out for include: A sudden, involuntary gasp for breath once you hit the water which can result in swallowing too much water.

You may also experience rapid breathing and if your body has experienced too much of a shock from the icy temperature. Also, you could very well faint which, in turn, could lead to drowning.

As much as splashing headfirst into the tantalizing waters may seem hard to resist in the scorching summer heat, it may be a good idea to “test the waters” first and dip your feet in to see whether your body will be able to handle the sudden temperature change.

Once you have submerged yourself in the water, try to swim around a bit while doing some breaststrokes and butterflies until the exercise warms up your body. After this, you should be used to the temperature meaning that you can enjoy your swim without worrying about cold water shock!

Lake Tahoe’s water is known to be cold in general, but if you’re wondering when the best time is to swim in Lake Tahoe, you may want to schedule your trip between mid-July to late August when they have a variety of swim events and marathons to join in on!

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How Dangerous is Lake Tahoe?

View of Lake Tahoe from above

If you’re still asking: how dangerous is Lake Tahoe? (especially in terms of humans) you may be relieved to hear that crime is mostly unheard of in this area which makes it one of the safest places to be. 

One of the primary threats will be the rattlesnakes and black bears, but if you follow the basic safety guidelines that we discussed in this article you shouldn’t have any problems.

The biggest cause of death in Lake Tahoe at the moment is the cold water shock which can be avoided quite easily by entering the water slowly and at a shallow point.

If you would rather be safe than sorry, it may also be a good idea to avoid swimming alone for the first time round. By doing this, there will be someone around to help you or to call a lifeguard if your body does go into shock.

Also, try not to venture into the woods alone in case you run into a bear or a rattlesnake. As the saying goes, “there is always safety in numbers.” A black bear may be less likely to attack if you are travelling in a group. 

If someone is unfortunate enough to accidentally step on a rattlesnake and get bitten, one of your group members can go get you the help that you need instead of you having to undergo a survival movie-style journey back to safety.

Stay safe while swimming in lake Tahoe

The last danger and this should go without saying, is swimming under the influence of alcohol or narcotics that impair your motor functions and judgement. Doing this can be dangerous enough as it is without worrying about drowning and hypothermia.

So, if you are someone that gets a bit too daring and adventurous after having a few cold ones, it’s best not to indulge in dangerous or unfamiliar turf like Lake Tahoe’s icy waters.

Other things to do in Lake Tahoe

Hiker standing and enjoying view of Lake Tahoe

If the cold is too much for you to handle, why not try out a few of the other things to do in Lake Tahoe? The first, and my personal favorite, item on the list is hiking!

Lake Tahoe is home to a beautiful hiking trail which, in turn, is home to a variety of wildlife. Keep your eyes open to catch a glimpse of some mule deer, porcupines, beavers and racoons!

If you are looking for a splashing adventure without getting into the freezing water, you can always sign up for a relaxing boat ride or rent a kayak to venture out on your own. You can also bring your fishing gear to indulge in some fly fishing!

Flyboarding and parasailing are also popular must-do activities in Lake Tahoe, but these might send you splashing into the water, so be sure to wear a life jacket and warm up to the water first!

Lastly, if you’re visiting Lake Tahoe in the winter, don’t forget to bring your ski boots to brave the snowy hills. The list of exciting things to do in Lake Tahoe is endless!

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So, are there sharks in Lake Tahoe? Thankfully not! You can rest assured that you won’t star in the next Jaws movie if go swimming here. In fact, it is considered reasonably safe to swim in Lake Tahoe as long as you are conscious of the freezing water temperatures and take the necessary steps to avoid getting cold water shock. 

Lake Tahoe is a breathtaking tourist destination that has a lot to offer. Go kayaking over the gentle ripples, or spend the day catching some fish if you’re not willing to brave the cold waters.

If you’d like to break a sweat before testing the waters, you can always go on a refreshing hike where you will encounter a variety of wildlife if you keep your eyes open. 

Just be sure to steer clear of the rattlesnakes and black bears! Also, don’t forget to check out some of our other awesome tourist destinations for your next adventure!