Enjoy Family Fun as the Salmon Run at Taylor Creek in South Lake Tahoe

Update: The Fall Fish Festival is October 5-6, 2019. It’s the best time of the year to visit. Beyond spotting the vibrant Kokanee salmon, there are numerous activities for the entire family planned at this festival at Taylor Creek in South Lake Tahoe. It’s educational, fun and free!

Spotting the Kokanee Salmon

Are you looking for a nature-filled fall activity that works for the entire family? It may be time for you to head to South Lake Tahoe to visit Taylor Creek. Not only will you experience some breathtakingly beautiful scenery on the trails that run through the park but if you time it right, you’ll be able to see the Kokanee salmon spawn.

At the suggestion of Andy’s family, we walked through the park in October last year. The weather was crisp (South Lake Tahoe is a world away climate-wise from Los Angeles) and fall was clearly in the air. I just wanted stand there and take deep breaths – enjoying the clean, peaceful feeling of the place, despite the Saturday crowds.

We knew we wanted to walk the trails and see the Stream Profile Center. Most areas are easily navigated even if people have mobility challenges, and we loved being able to look out over the water to see the fish, as well as spotting the animals in the trees.

You can start in the Steam Profile Chamber, which allows you to see the salmon and other fish in their natural habitat through floor-to-ceiling glass windows, or finish there. We actually began our explorations on the Rainbow Trail.

Taylor Creek in South Lake Tahoe
Andy by the Rainbow Trail at Taylor Creek in South Lake Tahoe.

The Rainbow Trail loops through the marshland and along Taylor Creek. It runs for about .6 of a mile and felt like easy terrain to me (and I can be a wuss about these things). It can be quite crowded on the weekends in the fall, but we had no difficulty getting spots near the water to see the salmon.

When we came out, we looped back toward the Visitor Center and decided to walk out to some of the vista points along Smokey’s Trail to get a feel for the mountains beyond the park. I admit that I fell in love with some of the views. The extraordinary colors reminded me of paintings I used to see when I was a child, and I can’t imagine ever getting tired of seeing these sights.

The park is closed during the winter and early spring months as the snow descends on South Lake Tahoe. The Visitor Center, trails and the Taylor Creek Steam Profile Chamber are all free!


South Lake Tahoe, Taylor Creek, California, family travel

20 Replies to “Enjoy Family Fun as the Salmon Run at Taylor Creek in South Lake Tahoe”

    1. I really loved it up there, and I need to spend more time exploring. Of course, it was already expecting snow, so that trip might have to wait for a while.

    1. The festival is usually at the beginning of October, so that is the best time to go. The salmon are running and there are tons of events. I’m betting the summer is also beautiful. I think Taylor Creek events end by the beginning of November/end of October because snow starts coming in and keeps coming well into the spring.

  1. It has been far too long since I last visited Lake Tahoe. Thanks for putting it back on my radar. I have always wanted to see the salmon run. So thanks for the suggestion to visit during the Fall Fish Festival. And such great views too!

    1. It was my first time in the area (other than passing through), and I really want to spend more time up there. The scenery alone is worth the drive.

  2. Hi! The post was very pleasant to read and the pictures drew me in and now I am thinking about traveling there once I go to the USA.
    The scenery looks very clear and the weather looks perfect for a hike.
    The lake looks very clean and the salmons look very lively!
    Hope I could visit there soon! Thanks!

  3. This is my kind of place. The fall colors are so wonderful to see. My husband would love to see all the salmon too. We’ve seen the salmon run in Alaska on the Russian River and it was so impressive. It was fun to see the fishermen, very near bears, catching fish. It looks like a great fall hike. Beautiful, but not too difficult.

  4. Lake Tahoe is my favorite lake in the world! I spent many winters and summers there. I haven’t visited the Rainbow trail during fall or Salmon spawning season though. It looks like I am missing out. I’ll have to check it out again. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Those colours and landscapes from the Rainbow Trail are absolutely breathtaking. I can admire them for hours. Which is the best time to visit South Lake Tahoe for the Salmon run?

    1. In early October every year there is a festival that celebrates the area and the salmon run. This year, it is October 5-6. We were there in mid-October when we visited, and it was perfect — salmon still running, air was crisp but not too cold to walk around and no snow.

  6. That sounds like a blast. I love that area around Lake Tahoe it is so beautiful! But seeing the Salmon Spawn for free sounds like a fun adventure for sure. So in general it is always in September and October or do they kind of farm them all year round at Taylor Creek? I think I missed that part.
    Love the after hike too. Those views and for free, amazing!

    1. It seems like the festival is always at the beginning of October (likely the first weekend). You can probably catch the salmon spawning earlier than that, and we went mid-October, and there were still so many to see.

  7. We went to Lake Tahoe as a family over the summer and had a blast! there is so much to do and there is a lot of kid friendly activities! I can’t wait to go back! xo – Kam

    1. There really is something for people of all ages. And it never hurts to find a family activity that is actually free!

Comments are closed.