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Take A Dip Into The Best Beaches In Truckee & North Lake Tahoe

Alex Silgalis
June 10, 2024
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Nothing calls out summer more than a day at the beach. And yet this season is about exploring all the nooks and crannies of the mountains as well. Luckily, Truckee is the perfect combination of beach life meets mountain town fun. Spend a morning taking in the wildflowers and finish it off on the shores of the Truckee River or Donner Lake. From the iconic North Lake Tahoe beaches to the unknown pooch-friendly Prosser Reservoir, here’s the best beaches for every occasion.

China Cove beach at Donner Memorial State Park in Truckee.

Best Kid-Friendly Beaches in Truckee

Soaking up the sun, taking in the mountainous scenery, laying on the sand, and swimming in crystal-clear waters, these kid-friendly beaches are truly the perfect way to spend your free time together with your family.

Donner Lake West End Beach

If Lake Tahoe is the jewel of the Sierra then Donner Lake is the shimmering sapphire of Truckee. This glacial lake, formed by a natural moraine, provides all the fun of its bigger sibling to the East but with a fraction of the crowds. For a kid friendly beach, we recommend West End Beach. As the name suggests, it’s on the western side of Donner Lake and features a gorgeous 12-acre day-use beach with American Red Cross Certified Lifeguards supervising the designated swim area in summer. Visit this page to learn more about Donner Lake & how you can protect this precious resource!

Daily beach admission: Youth & Senior Non-Resident (1-17 & 62+): $7, Adult Non-Resident (18-62): $11.

China Cove

While the two main Donner Lake beach areas are on the western and eastern shorelines, there is another quieter and more relaxed one on the southern end - China Cove. Accessed via Donner Memorial State Park, due to the limited parking next to it, it’s usually less crowded. A unique feature to China Cove is that there are trees behind the beach where you can set up beach chairs under them for shade while you watch your kiddos frolic in the water.

Parking fees: May 1 - September 30: $10 per vehicle for the day. October 1 - April 30: $5 per vehicle.

Donner Lake dog-friendly beach in Truckee.

Dog-Friendly Beaches in Truckee

As much as you're excited for a day at the beach, your pup is probably twice so. The idea of running full sprint and leaping in the cool waters of a lake is something that will bring joy to both you and your companion.

Donner Memorial State Park

Truckee is head over heels for their dogs so it's no wonder that Donner Memorial State Park is one of the most pet-friendly state parks in California. But just like other Golden State Parks, certain trails/sections are off limits such as in the visitor center, on the half-mile Nature Trail, and China Cove Beach. They are permitted to join you on a six-foot (maximum) leash on the Lakeside Interpretive Trail, Zig Zag Trail, fire roads, and along the shore of Donner Lake except for China Cove Beach. For a full-on dog-friendly beach, you’ll want to head to the east end of Donner Lake within the park. You’ll identify the dedicated pet friendly beach as the area closest to the Tahoe Donner Beach Club Marina.

Parking fees: May 1 - September 30: $10 per vehicle for the day. October 1 - April 30: $5 per vehicle.

Truckee River Regional Park

Within the Truckee River Regional Park’s 62 acres, you’ll find miles of pet-friendly nature trails and picnic areas all along the river. One of the most popular spots to experience the river with your pooch is the Truckee River Legacy Trail. Besides taking in the riverfront views, you’ll find a few river beaches for your furry family member to take a dip in.

Prosser Reservoir

Fed by Prosser Creek, Prosser Reservoir is a popular local recreation spot with single track and dirt roads weaving through the woods and around the reservoir. Featuring a shoreline of approximately 11 miles in length, there’s a lot of places to post up with your pooch to enjoy the scenery or just go for a hike.

Aerial view of Boca Reservoir in Truckee its beaches at sunset.

Best Truckee Beaches For A Sunset

Donner Lake East End

Yet another beach located inside Donner Memorial State Park giving you access to Donner Lake. On the eastern flank, you’ll find the visitor center, hiking trails, interpretive paths, and a large Donner Lake Beach. With the sun shimmering off the waters and the tall peaks of Donner Summit in the background, it makes for the perfect place to relax and take in a sunset. Visit this page to learn more about Donner Lake & how you can protect this precious resource!

Parking fees: May 1 - September 30: $10 per vehicle for the day. October 1 - April 30: $5 per vehicle.

Boca Reservoir

One of the bodies of water where you can nearly drive right up to the water’s edge on the eastern shore and launch a kayak or paddleboard. Boca Reservoir also features dog-friendly hiking trails as well as beaches where you can toss a tennis ball around with your furry friend. For sunsets though, bee-line to the west side of the reservoir to the lookout point at Boca Hill.

Off the Beaten Path Natural Beauty

Independence Lake

Located in one of the five properties in the upper Little Truckee River Watershed, it’s considered one of the most pristine alpine lakes west of the Rockies. Due to its pristine nature and intact ecosystem, Independence Lake has become a unique refuge for rare fish. This body of water is home to one of only TWO self-sustaining populations of the native Lahontan cutthroat trout in the world. It also contains six other native Lahontan fishes that have lived here since glaciers disappeared some 10,000 years ago.

Aerial view of a North Lake Tahoe beach and kayakers.

Best North Lake Tahoe Beaches

How could we call out the best North Lake Tahoe beaches without highlighting some of our favorites on the shores of Big Blue. For paddlers, Watermans Landing and its three acre pebbly beach for a variety of out-and-back paddle adventures. Sun worshippers will want to head to Kings Beach State Recreation Area. Located on the north shore’s “banana belt”, it’s one one of the sunniest North Lake Tahoe beaches. And for those that want a no frills beach with fine sand then consider a visit to Moon Dunes Beach. All of these options are within 10 miles of downtown Truckee and make for a perfect day trip.

Explore all of the Lake Tahoe beaches.

People boating in a North Lake Tahoe cove with mountains in background.

Take Care & Show Your Love for Truckee

Getting tubular and rafting the Truckee River, paddling on Donner Lake, or boating on Lake Tahoe is one of the best ways to pass the time on a Tahoe summer day. But it takes everyone to keep Truckee’s ecosystem healthy and thriving. Show your love for Truckee by following the Leave No Trace principles. That means doing whatever it takes to take everything with you i.e. “Pack it in. Pack it out.”  And if you do float on any river, remember to get in and out on established trails. Want to help even more to keep Truckee beautiful? Sign up for one of our outdoor volunteer events.

Alex Silgalis

Born and raised as a flat lander in Chicagoland, Alex spent his summers working to save up for a season pass to the local hill along with any trips out West or beyond he could squeeze in. It was during his travels, both as a kid & an adult, Alex discovered his inspiration for Local Freshies® . His idea was to create the No. 1 Web site providing the local scoop on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer alongside the love of his life and business partner, Jaime Pirozzi.

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