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.
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!