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Tahoe Nugget #211:

Tahoe Ecotourism and Cascade Lake
July 17, 2011

The latest buzzword at Lake Tahoe is ecotourism. The idea is to grow the regional economy away from declining drivers like casinos and construction. As defined by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) ecotourism is "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people."

Nugget #211 Top Eagle Falls  Emerald Bay
Top of the Eagle Falls as it plummets to feed Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe.

I'm certain that if this new movement increases tourism in the Tahoe Basin, it certainly will "improve the well-being of locals" and their businesses. But since Tahoe is at 6,200 feet in the Central Sierra, the "responsible travel" will most likely still be the family SUV. Of course, some ecotourists could be bussed up from transportation hubs like Reno and Sacramento, but many summer visitors have more on their week-long itinerary than just staying in the Tahoe Basin.

Nugget #211 Cascade  Trailhead
Find the trailhead at the Bayview Trailhead Campground on Highway 89 across from the Emerald Bay overlook at Inspiration Point.

Part of TIES mission statement explains that this new business model will be achieved by establishing an international network of individuals, institutions, and the tourism industry. Success depends on "educating tourists and tourism professionals."  The final pillar requires influencing the tourism industry, institutions and donors to integrate the principles of ecotourism into their operations and policies.

Nugget #211 Hiker Carrying  Child
Cascade Falls trail is moderate and well maintained, but please don't carry your child like this.

Lake Tahoe has been marketing its natural beauty and year-round lifestyle for years, and I have noticed more international visitors in the past decade and especially in the last five years. The region has always had to walk a fine line between the financial allure of development against protecting the environment and scenic value. Now that the Tahoe Basin is mostly built out, the pundits see ecotourism as the future.

Nugget #211 Little Boy  Cascade
I was concerned about the little boy who was acting a bit hyperactive near this cliff edge while his father spent too much time looking in the other direction. A slip would have been fatal.

Not one to complain, I will be positioning part of my business toward the educational prospects inherent in ecotourism in order that I too may obtain some of the "well being for locals" promised in the ecotourism model.

Nugget #211 Solo Gazer  Cascade
The views are spectacular and worth every step.

I last visited Cascade Lake in June 2006 (see Nugget #84) during that spring's heavy runoff. A few days ago I took that short hike again to see how water flows looked this year. I wasn't disappointed. White water was roaring everywhere in the vicinity, including Cascade Falls and Eagle Falls at Emerald Bay. Took some photos and shot a few 60 second video clips for those at home. On the scale of difficulty the Cascade Falls hike is rated as moderate, but just 1.5 miles roundtrip.

Nugget #211 Cascade Lake  Tahoe
Cascade Lake with Tahoe in the background.

Once at the falls, however, plan on spending some time exploring the swimming holes and glaciated granite. Hike is best done in the morning on a hot day as the return walk back to the car is along a sun exposed granite wall that gets toasty during a summer afternoon.

Four Video Links: Click for 1 minute videos:

Front View of Eagle Falls July 14, 2011

Top of Eagle Falls & Emerald Bay

Feeder streams above Cascade Falls

Top of Cascade Falls & Cascade Lake

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