Welcome back to another week of Exploring Our Backyard. This week, we're heading out to the East Shore of Lake Tahoe to go clear bottom kayaking. I've been to Lake Tahoe numerous times but have never seen it with a view like this on our expedition with Clearly Tahoe.
It was an early-morning wake up call to head to Clearly Tahoe's Zephyr Cove kiosk to meet co-founder Kelsey Weist and on-site guide and partner, Geoff Miller, who would be our tour guides for the day. We took off for Cave Rock State Park to begin our clear-bottom kayaking adventure along the east shore. Clearly Tahoe has been opened for about four years and offers a variety of tours from scenic shoreline tours and sunset tours on the east shore to Eco Discovery Tours and LED Glow and LED stargazing tours in South Lake Tahoe. But all of them require you to check in at either Zephyr Cove or Tahoe Keys, depending on your tour, before heading out to the water.
Upon arriving at Cave Rock, we zipped up our life jackets and learned some in-and-outs of the transparent kayaks during a safety lesson. I was amazed by the fool's gold on the shoreline when getting into the kayak. I didn't know that existed near the lake. Once I got on the water, I was blown away by the views under the surface. It was incredible kayaking over rocks and looking at the formations in the water you can't see from the shoreline.
"Clear kayaking is so much different than a typical kayak," Weist said. "They're shaped like a canoe because they are. It's actually a French-style canoe called a pirogue, and it's designed for fishing in shallow waters. They're flat on the bottom, so they don't have a defined hull like a normal kayak would, but it does create a window of visibility for guests to see down through the bottom, about 65-70 feet deep, depending on the time of year and the clarity. The boats, because they're flat on the bottom are much more stable than a canoe. Unlike a canoe, they're not as tippy, and you do sit in them like a kayak and paddle them like a kayak. So unlike a normal kayak or a canoe, this is a whole new unique type of activity that is new even to experienced kayakers."
I felt safe and stable throughout my time on the water, even when the winds were starting to pick up in the late morning. One of the best parts about it was I didn't get wet. It was a warm morning, so I didn't need a jacket or blanket, but you can still kayak in the late fall months and bundle up so it doesn't have to be a summer activity.
While this is an activity almost the entire family can enjoy for a few hours, Clearly Tahoe reminds us why the lake is so clean and clear and how they try to protect the lake. They work with the League to Save Lake Tahoe to help educate their guests on invasive species, as well as Clean Up the Lake to monitor some of the trash that's below the surface.
"It's such a rewarding experience to not just share the kayaking itself, but to also educate a lot of their guests on the things they can do to get involved and help 'Keep Tahoe Blue' and keep this beautiful lake preserved the way it is today," Weist said.