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How To Visit Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe: Information & parking tips to know before you go


Lake Tahoe, California

by Coco Tran On September 8, 2023

sand harbor beach photos

Sand Harbor Beach Lake Tahoe is a stunning state park located on the eastern shores of Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. With its crystal-clear water, gently sloping beaches, and interesting rock formations, it is no surprise that Sand Harbor is one of the most popular and spectacular parks in the Tahoe basin. It is the largest alpine lake in North America and is a cobalt blue lake atop the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

if you’re looking for information on how to visit the stunning Sand Harbor Beach, you’re at the right place because I visited recently and have up-to-date sand harbor information 2023 to make the most of your trip! Not to add to the FOMO, but Sand Harbor boasts crystal-clear water, gently sloping beaches, and interesting rock formations that make it one of the most beautiful beaches in Lake Tahoe for swimming, kayaking, and scuba diving. As the largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe is a must-see destination!

Sand Harbor Beach Lake Tahoe State Park

Sand Harbor’s Main Beach is 2,500 feet long and is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and a wide variety of beach activities. There is also a small launch corridor for non-motorized watercraft at the south end of the beach. Whether you’re looking to relax on the shore, explore the water, or take in stunning views, Sand Harbor has something for everyone. With its beautiful cove and clear waters, Sand Harbor is an amazing spot along the beautiful Lake Tahoe.

If you’re looking for a beautiful and popular beach in Lake Tahoe, then Sand Harbor Beach is a must-visit. This beach is located on the northeast shore of Lake Tahoe within Lake Tahoe – Nevada State Park and is known for its large sandy beach, crystal clear waters, and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

sand harbor lake tahoe

Sand Harbor Beach Amenities

Sand Harbor Beach has a variety of amenities that make it a great place to spend the day. Here are some of the amenities you can expect to find:

  • Picnic benches and barbecues: There are plenty of picnic benches and barbecues available, so you can enjoy a family picnic or cookout while taking in the stunning views of Lake Tahoe.
  • Nature trail: If you’re looking for a bit of exercise, take a stroll along the nature trail that winds through the park. You’ll be treated to beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
  • Boat ramps: Sand Harbor Beach has two double boat ramps, making it easy to launch your watercraft and explore the lake.
  • Visitors center: The visitors center at Sand Harbor Beach is open year-round and provides information about the history of the area, as well as maps and other resources to help you plan your visit.
  • Beach activities: Sand Harbor Beach is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and a wide variety of water activities. Whether you want to kayak, play beach volleyball, or just relax in the sun, there’s something for everyone at this beach.

Overall, Sand Harbor Beach is a wonderful beach to spend the day with family and friends. With its stunning views, crystal clear waters, and variety of amenities, it’s no wonder why this beach is one of the most popular spots in the Tahoe basin. So pack a picnic, grab your sunscreen, and head to Sand Harbor Beach for a day of fun in the sun!

Sand Harbor Nevada Visitor Information & FAQ

If you’re planning a visit to Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe, it’s important to know the operating hours, visitor center location, and parking information. This will help you make the most of your time at the park without any hassle.

Sand Harbor Hours

Sand Harbor Beach is open year-round, but the operating hours vary depending on the season. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the park is open from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM daily. During the off-season, the park is open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Visitors should note that the park may close at varying times during the day due to high visitation or other factors. It is recommended to check the park’s website or call ahead to confirm operating hours before planning a visit. You can enjoy beach activities during the day, but overnight camping is not allowed.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/sand-harbor-lake-tahoe/

Sand Harbor Visitor Center

The Sand Harbor Visitor Center open since 2007,is located near the park entrance. The center offers information about the park’s history, geology, and wildlife. The visitor center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Explore Comstock-era logging, Sand Harbor’s story, the Virginia Gold Hill Water Company, and more. Plus, grab souvenirs at the gift shop, park store, and enjoy a seasonal restaurant right next door.

sand harbor lake tahoe

Sand Harbor Beach Park Facilities

Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park has plenty of facilities to make your visit comfortable and enjoyable. Some of the amenities you’ll find at the park include:

  • Picnic areas 
  • Sandy Beach
  • Restrooms
  • Hiking and biking trails
  • Boat launches
  • Fishing areas

Sand Harbor Beach Nevada History

Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park has a rich history that dates back to the early 1900s. In 1921, the state of Nevada purchased the land that would eventually become the park. Over the years, the park has been expanded and improved to provide visitors with the best possible experience.

One of the most notable features of the park is Sand Harbor, which is located on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe. Sand Harbor is known for its crystal-clear water and beautiful sandy beaches, making it a popular destination for swimmers, sunbathers, and boaters.

Sand Harbor Shuttle Information

For those who prefer not to drive or bike, the East Shore Express shuttle provides an excellent alternative. The shuttle runs from Incline Village to Sand Harbor State Park, with stops in Carson City and South Lake Tahoe. The shuttle is available from June to September, and it is a convenient and affordable way to get to Sand Harbor without the hassle of driving and parking.

Sand Harbor has ample parking, but it fills up quickly during peak season. The parking lot is open from 7 a.m. until one hour after sunset. Visitors are advised to arrive early to secure a parking spot. Once the parking lot is full, no additional vehicles will be allowed to enter the park until it reopens, which is usually around 5 p.m.

Sand Harbor Tahoe FAQ

Where is Sand Harbor Beach located?

Sand Harbor Beach is located on the northeastern shore of Lake Tahoe in Nevada, USA.

How big is Sand Harbor?

Sand Harbor is huge stretch of 55 acres and 2,500 ft of sandy beaches and swimming coves. 

How big is Sand Harbor parking lot?

The Sand Harbor parking lots have a total of 450 parking spaces.

Do you have to pay to get into Sand Harbor?

Yes there is a parking fee of $15 per vehicle and $2 Per person if you are walking in or biking into Sand Harbor Beach.

Are dogs allowed at Sand Harbor?

Dogs are not allowed at Sand Harbor during summer months From October to April. Dogs are not allowed at Sand Harbor during the summer months.

Can you get married at Sand Harbor?

yes you can! The permit fee and information can be found here. 

Where’s the Sand Harbor Rentals located?

The clearly lake rental booth is on the far side parking lot, If you drive to the furthest left parking lot it’s on the beach. You’ll see a tent with their name. 

Sand Harbor Parking Information & Accessibility 

Sand Harbor is a stunning beach located in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, which is situated on the east shore of Lake Tahoe. The park is approximately 12 miles south of Incline Village and 20 miles north of South Lake Tahoe. It is easily accessible by car, bike, or on foot.

Parking can be a challenge at Sand Harbor, especially during peak season. When I went, we arrived at 6 am in July. Honestly, the parking at Sand Harbor is a frustrating mess. Lake Tahoe doesn’t have a system in place to accommodate Sand Harbor’s popularity. With only 450 parking spots there’s a line that forms on the highway to turn into the entrance well before the gates even open.

I spoke to some folks in their cars in the line and they said they have been waiting in line since 5 am (and the park doesn’t open till 7 am). The workers were frustrated as well, having to constantly tell confused vehicles to keep moving, “keep going, you cannot park here, this is a highway” and “The park doesn’t open till 7 am, keep driving”.

When we arrived at 6 am the sheriff already blocked off the back of the line full of vehicles and told anybody attempting to line up to keep driving and that they cannot wait there. As you can see, it parking at Sand Harbor is frustrating and very unorganized at the moment. But don’t worry, I’ll share helpful tips and how we got parking at Sand Harbor below. 

There are a few things you should know before you go to Sand Harbor:

  • The parking fee is $15 per vehicle. Cash or checks only, no credit cards are accepted.
  • The parking lot fills up quickly, so plan ahead and arrive early to secure a spot.
  • If the parking lot is full, you can park at the overflow lot located about a mile away, and take the shuttle/bus to the park.
  • There is a shuttle available to take you into Sand Harbor (more information below)
  • There is no overnight parking allowed at Sand Harbor.
  • There is no BBQ allowed at Sand Harbor
  • No glass containers 

Sand Harbor Boat Ramp

The park also offers a boat ramp that is open year-round, with hours varying depending on the season. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the boat ramp is open from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM. During the off-season, the boat ramp is open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Visitors should note that the boat ramp may close due to high water levels or other factors. 

The Boat ramp fee is $75 per boat.

There is also a mandatory boat inspection if you have an out of state boat. This is to check for aquatic invasive species. For more information check out their website 

All three regional inspection stations are now open 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Boaters can drop in to an inspection station or book an appointment.

When To Visit Sand Harbor: Sand Harbor Weather and Climate

Sand Harbor is a beautiful destination to visit any time of the year, but the best time to visit is during the summer months of June, July, August, and September. During these months, the weather is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying the beach.

According to the National Weather Service, the average temperature during the summer months ranges from 70°F to 80°F, with the warmest month being July. The water temperature during these months averages around 75°F, making it comfortable for swimming, kayaking, and other water activities (although it feels much colder!) It’s honestly some of the most refreshing and clearest lakes I’ve ever been in. 

sand harbor beach

If you’re planning a visit to Sand Harbor during the winter months, keep in mind that the area can be extremely cold. Lake Tahoe is a popular ski destination during the winter, so if you’re not planning on hitting the slopes, it may be best to visit during the summer months.

The table below provides a summary of the average weather conditions at Sand Harbor throughout the year:

MonthHigh Temperature (°F)Low Temperature (°F)Average Precipitation (in)
Sand Harbor in January41152.7
Sand Harbor in February44182.1
Sand Harbor in March49212.3
Sand Harbor in April56271.4
Sand Harbor in May64331.2
Sand Harbor in June73390.6
Sand Harbor in July81440.3
Sand Harbor in August80430.3
Sand Harbor in September73370.7
Sand Harbor in October62301.2
Sand Harbor in November49222.0
Sand Harbor in December41162.5

As you can see, the best time to visit Sand Harbor is during the summer months when the weather is warm and sunny. However, if you prefer cooler temperatures and fewer crowds, the spring and fall months are also great times to visit.

How To Get To Sand Harbor Beach

If you’re planning a visit to Sand Harbor cove, Here are the options to get to Sand Harbor:

Driving and Parking at Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe

One option is to drive yourself to Sand Harbor and park in one of the parking lots. Keep in mind that parking can be limited, especially during peak season, so it’s a good idea to arrive early or consider other transportation options. The parking fee is $15 per vehicle, and there are several parking lots available.

What time does Sand Harbor fill up?

Sand Harbor parking lot fills up by 8 am during summer months. If you want to park here see my parking tips below!

lake tahoe sand harbor

Parking Tips for Sand Harbor Beach:

If you’re wondering How to get parking at sand harbor: I’ve got tips that helped me secure parking at Sand Harbor during peak summer time in July. You can either wake up really early and be the first few cars to wait in line or arrive closer to the park opening times:

  • Arrive before 5 am and be the first few cars to line up to turn into the park 
  • Arrive at 6 am and park and wait at the Memorial Point Scenic Overlook ( about .4 miles away) and closer to 7 am when the park opens get in line to get into the park
  • It’s not safe and not encouraged to park and wait at the sides of the highway, but there are vehicles that did
sand harbor beach lake tahoe

Sand Harbor Beach Map & Sand Harbor Shuttle Map

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/sand-harbor-lake-tahoe/

sand harbor beach directions:

Sand Harbor has two entrances, one is for cars and one is the Sand Harbor boat ramp. The Google GPS coordinates for the parking lot. You cannot park in the boat ramp parking lot if you do not have a boat. The highway to sand harbor beach comes from the north and south.

Depending from where you’re driving from your access to the sand harbor parking to will be in a different direction. We arrived from the south of Lake Tahoe. The line of cars formed on the south end of the entrance (heading up towards north tahoe) at the left turning lane. The line of cars was cutt off by a sheriff’s car since it’s a one-way lane and you cannot block traffic. on the North side (heading towards south lake tahoe) there was no waiting allowed as there was no turning lane. 

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/sand-harbor-lake-tahoe/
sand harbor trail

Lake Tahoe East Shore Express Sand Harbor Shuttle

Another option is to take the East Shore Express, which is a shuttle service that runs from Incline Village to Sand Harbor. You can park your car at Incline village and take the shuttle. The shuttle runs every 20 minutes during peak season and every 30 minutes during off-peak season. The shuttle is free to ride, and it’s a great option if you want to avoid the hassle of driving and parking. The only downside is you cannot take more than a backpack. Yes you can take your bike onto the east shore express. But unfortunately, animals and dogs aren’t allowed on the shuttle.

Sand Harbor shuttle fees for Round-trip Fares

$3,00 for general public $1.50 For Veterans and Seniors

The Sand Harbor Shuttle hours are:

10 AM – 7 PM Weekends:

June 16, 17 and June 23, 24 Daily:

June 30 – September 3 June 30:

Service begins at 11:30 following the parade July 4: 8 AM – 8 PM

FROM INCLINE VILLAGE :

Corner of Southwood & Hwy. 28 (Old Elementary School) 771 Southwood Blvd., Incline Village, NV 89451 Service begins at 10 AM, then every 20 minutes until 6:20 PM.

FROM SAND HARBOR VISITORS CENTER Service begins at 10:20 AM, then every 20 minute

Lake Tahoe East Shore Trail Access

You can also walk or bike to access Sand Harbor through the East Shore Trail, which is approximately 3.5 miles long. The trailhead is located at Tunnel Creek Road, I Biked this trail and you can find information on the East Shore Trail biking experience here. The East Shore Trail offers breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains. It’s a nice and wide paved trail that wraps around the lake shore. Once you reach Sand Harbor Beach on foot, there. is a day use fee of $2 per person and it’s cash only.

In my opinion this is the best way to reach Sand harbor if you don’t have tons of stuff to take with you. You can stop by many of the hidden coves on the way to Sand Harbor. We really enjoyed Hidden Beach the day we went biking, since we brought our doggies, we couldn’t stay at Sand Harbor since dogs aren’t allowed at Sand Harbour Beach.

No matter which transportation option you choose, be sure to plan ahead and arrive early to make the most of your visit to Sand Harbor.

What To Bring To Sand Harbor: Make The most of your visit to Sand Harbor packing List

When I went to Sand Harbor beach, we brought our own kayaks and some other things that made our all-day stay at Sand Harbor great! Here are some essential things that you should bring to make your visit To Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe the best one yet:

Foldable Wagon: Hauling your stuff from the car onto the beach will require multiple trips. A lot of people used a wagon to get their stuff from their car to the beach

A Bike Trailer Wagon: if you’re biking into sand harbor, having this wagon/trailer attached to your bike will let you bring more items with you!

Beach Blanket: I used a linen sheet from Parachute and it worked great and dried quickly

Dry Bag: If you go on your kayak and want to bring your essentials with you (phone wallet keys)

Foldable beach Chairs: Another essential if you don’t want to sit on the sand.

Shade Umbrella: There isn’t any shade on the beach, so bringing your own shade is essential to last in the sun. This is a great packable umbrella that’s also cute!

Shade Tent: If you’re having a larger party a shade tent is absolutely necessary

Cooler: A cooler large enough for all your beverages

Sunblock: The sun is scorching and you need to protect your skin

Hat: My hat is linked below and my sunglasses are linked as well

Swimsuit: My swimsuit is linked below

Kayak: Inflatable kayak is such a great way ! There are rentals on the beach as well

Travel Essentials

Curated List of travel Must Haves

Things To Do at Sand Harbor Beach Lake Tahoe Park

If you’re wondering what is there to do at Sand Harbor State Park, there are ample of activities! If you’re looking for a fun-filled day at Lake Tahoe, Sand Harbor is the place to be. Here are some of the top activities you can enjoy at Sand Harbor:

Boating and a Boat Ramp

Sand Harbor has two boat ramps that make it easy for boaters to launch their boats and enjoy a day out on the water. Whether you want to go fishing or water skiing, the boat ramp at Sand Harbor is the perfect place to start your adventure.

kayaking clear lake tahoe sand harbor
Clear Stand Up Paddle boarding and clear kayaking guide

Tahoe Shakespeare Festival

If you’re looking for a unique and fun experience,  check out the annual Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival held at Sand Harbor. This Sand harbor Shakespeare festival is a must-see event that features live performances of Shakespeare’s plays in a stunning outdoor setting. Bring a picnic and enjoy the show right on the beach! It’s a fun event that’s unique to Lake Tahoe;

Sand Harbor is also the site of the annual Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival during July and August. This has got to be one of the most beautiful venues in the world for such performances. Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival plays and other activities mostly take place in the evening so as not to create a conflict with the day-use crowds at Sand Harbor.

Aquatic Life & Water Activities

Sand Harbor is home to a variety of aquatic life, making it a great destination for snorkeling and kayaking. You can explore the crystal-clear waters and see schools of fish swimming around you. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a crawfish or two.

In addition to these activities, Sand Harbor is also a great place to relax on the beach, swim in the lake, and enjoy a meal at the Kona Grill restaurant. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, Sand Harbor has something for everyone.

Kayaking and Stand Up Paddle Board at Sand Harbor

From Sand Harbor you can yakaing to Secret Cove, bonsai rock, and Chimney Beach. We brought our own kayaks and  kayaked to Secret Cove and I have an article about  kayaking from Sand Harbor to Secret Cove here. 

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/sand-harbor-lake-tahoe/

Additional Services and Amenities at Lake Tahoe Sand Harbor Beach

Sand Harbor is not just a beautiful beach, it also offers a range of additional services and amenities to enhance your experience. Here are some of the services and amenities you can take advantage of during your visit to Sand Harbor:

Sand Harbor Bar and Grill

If you’re feeling hungry or thirsty during your visit, you can grab a bite to eat or a drink at the Beachside Cafe. The cafe offers a range of food and beverage options, including burgers, sandwiches, salads, and more. You can also enjoy a refreshing Alcoholic beverage while you take in the views of the lake. We ordered the pina colada and Rum runner and it was yummy! There’s no need to haul your food here as the grill has plenty of food at a decent price. The drinks were $12 and the food was about 9-$15.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/sand-harbor-lake-tahoe/

Equipment Rentals

If you forgot to bring your beach gear, don’t worry. Sand Harbor offers a range of equipment rentals, including chairs, umbrellas, and beach towels. You can rent these items from the Beachside Cafe, which is located near the main entrance of the park.

Sand Harbor Kayak Rentals

Kayaking is a great way to explore the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe. Sand Harbor offers kayak rentals from Clearly Lake Tahoe Rentals. You can rent single or double kayaks, as well as their popular clear kayaks. Life jackets are included with your rental. Kayaking is a fun activity for all ages and skill levels, and it’s a great way to enjoy the natural beauty of the lake.

Sand Harbor Beach Webcam

If you can’t make it to Sand Harbor in person, you can still enjoy the views of the beach with the Sand Harbor Beach Webcam. The webcam is located near the main entrance of the park and provides a live feed of the beach. You can access the webcam from the Sand Harbor website, and it’s a great way to check the conditions before you plan your visit.

Or if you want to check out the current conditions at Sand Harbor Beach before heading out, there is a live webcam available. The Sand Harbor Beach Webcam provides a live stream of the beach and surrounding area, allowing visitors to see the current weather, water conditions, and crowd levels.You can access the webcam on the park’s website here.

Restrooms

Sand Harbor Beach has several restrooms located throughout the park. The restrooms are clean and well-maintained.

Overall, Sand Harbor offers a range of services and amenities to enhance your experience at the beach. Whether you need beach gear, want to rent a kayak, or just need a place to freshen up, Sand Harbor has you covered.

The Lake Tahoe Travel Guide

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