Update: Coronavirus & Wildfire
Please note that in the current Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic environment, traveling into the backcountry is risky. Backcountry travel has the potential to place great and unnecessary strains on emergency medical services. Thru-hikers and other backcountry travelers who happen to be carriers of COVID-19 could pass along the virus to smaller, trail towns that have limited medical services. Also note that most Lake Tahoe businesses and recreation locations are operating under modified conditions (mask wearing requirements, social distancing, take-out only restaurants…). Know before you go (i.e. search online or call) to determine whether or not your intended destination is closed or operating under alternative procedures.
The Caldor fire reached Echo Summit on August 29, and entered the Lake Tahoe Basin on August 30th. I was evacuated from my home in Meyers (very close to Echo Summit) on August 29 (until September 11), as well as residents of Christmas Valley. Residents of South Lake Tahoe and Stateline were evacuated in the following days (most of them on August 30). Many of those residents from the Nevada side of Tahoe and those who live in the city limits of South Lake Tahoe were able to start repopulating by September 5. I wasn’t able to go home until September 11. And, Christmas Valley residents were allowed to go back on September 12.
As of September 15, the Caldor Fire is at 69% containment, with much of the south shore still in evacuation warning status. Highway 50 is closed, and will continue to be so for a long time. Also, all Forest Service lands and California State Parks (Tahoe) are currently closed due to extreme wildfire risk. So I recommend that you avoid traveling to or through Lake Tahoe right now. Wait until this fire is extinguished completely before visiting. Here’s a list of links regarding the current state of wildfire threat in the Lake Tahoe Basin:
- Caldor Fire is at 69% containment (9/14/21)
- South Tahoe was completely evacuated (over 22,000 people at once!) between August 29 – September 12, 2021
- Evacuation orders and warnings are expanding due to the Caldor Fire (8/20/21)
- HWY 50 from Sly Park to Meyers is closed (8/20/21)
- All CA State Parks on the west shore of Lake Tahoe are closed to the public (8/20/21)
- All Forest Service lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin are closed to the public (8/20/21)
Significant portions of hiking along the west shore of Lake Tahoe are closed for recreational use (8/19/21)
- El Dorado National Forest is closed to all recreational use, possibly through September (8/18/21)