March is one of the last months of the ski season in the cities of South Lake Tahoe (California) and Incline Village (Nevada), and Tahoe City (California), and from our experience, it’s a good time to visit Lake Tahoe, which is nearing the end of its winter months.
The region has enviably snowy terrain and a large, turquoise alpine lake.
We live in California and visit Lake Tahoe many times a year and created this helpful guide as a resource for potential visitors. It will help you know which Tahoe ski resorts to visit in March and what to wear during a late-winter or spring break visit to Lake Tahoe.
We also cover hiking tips, in case you are not into skiing.
While spring wildflowers bloom in other parts of California, in Tahoe, it is still winter in March, with frequent snowstorms.
The average high temperature in Tahoe is around 48°F (9°C) in March, and the average low can drop to 23°F (-5°C) degrees. Visitors who enjoy snow sports will be delighted to ski, snowboard, or snowshoe every day in March. Hiking in wintery conditions is also possible.
Average high temps:
- Early March: 45°F (7°C)
- Mid-March: 49°F (9°C)
- Late March: 51°F (10°C)
With over 70 inches of snowfall in March, Tahoe is a cold, snowy place for a wintery spring break trip. However, days are longer, and skies are clearer, making March an excellent time to visit.
This is a winter month going into spring, so we’ll cover early-month, mid-month, and late-month weather in the Tahoe region.
At the beginning of March, daily high temperatures are in the mid-40°F degrees, with evening and morning temperatures dropping below freezing to the low 20°F degrees.
Historically, there is over a foot of snow in the first days of March, with up to 16 inches of snow falling in the Truckee and Tahoe City area. Early March is the cloudiest and wettest time of the year in Tahoe, and more than half of the time, there will be cloudy skies with a 30% chance of precipitation.
In the middle of March, daily high temperatures reach the upper 40°F degrees, while evenings and mornings remain in the lower 20°F degrees, below freezing.
You can expect at least 10 inches of snow mid-month, and in the Truckee region, you can get up to 15 inches of snow in mid-March. Skies are still cloudy half of the time, and there is over a 26% chance of precipitation.
By the end of the month, the daily high temperature rises to around 50°F degrees, with evenings still below freezing. Late March is still snowy with about 8 inches of snowfall in South Lake Tahoe, 10 inches around Incline Village, and 11 inches around Truckee.
There is about a 20-25% chance of precipitation; half of the time, it is cloudy. However, late March is the best time for a milder winter visit to Tahoe. That’s also our preferred time!
Can You Hike in March?
March is a fantastic month to go hiking at Lake Tahoe, as long as you’re prepared for snow hiking.
From our experience, you’ll need the following:
- Microspikes, crampons, snowshoes, or all of the above (depending on conditions)
- Waterproof hiking boots
- Snow gaiters
- Trekking poles
- Wool socks and base layers
- Waterproof jacket, wool hat, and gloves
- Multiple layers of clothing (we’ll cover clothing later in this article)
Remember to hike on flatter terrain during the winter, as you’d need mountaineering training to attempt a strenuous hike. What is easy in the summer is much more challenging with snow.
Here is a list of winter trails for hiking: AllTrails.com.
In South Lake Tahoe, an easy hike is the Lam Watah Nature Trail which takes you to Nevada Beach (a 2.8-mile loop). For more of a challenge, head to Emerald Lake State Park and hike there, such as the Cascade Falls Hike (1.4 miles out and back).
If you’re in Incline Village, you’ll love the Stateline Lookout trail, an easy 1.7-mile path that crosses the Nevada-California border and overlooks the lake’s northern edge. And for a more challenging hike just south of Incline Village, trek up to “Monkey Rock” on this 2.6-mile out-and-back trail for exceptional lake views.
Can You Swim in Lake Tahoe in March?
In March, Lake Tahoe water temperatures range from 40°F (4°C) to 45°F (7°C), which is very dangerous to swim in for more than a few minutes. So, visitors to Lake Tahoe who wish to swim will be better suited to an indoor swimming pool.
Even boating, like kayaking, will be risky (and unavailable) for visitors. If you visit Lake Tahoe in March, it’s best to stick with land activities like skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing.
What to Wear
As it is still winter in March, you must wear many warm layers at Lake Tahoe. For instance, you’ll need waterproof hiking boots or snow boots with a firm grip. Pack leggings, long-sleeved shirts, wool socks, sweaters, long pants, gloves, and a waterproof jacket.
We recommend the following clothing layers:
- Base Layer: Leggings, long-sleeved shirts, and wool socks. It’s best to wear a thick and warm fabric like wool for this base layer.
- Second (Mid) Layer: Wool or synthetic sweaters, hoodies, and long pants. Gloves, a warm winter hat covering your ears, and a scarf or buff.
- Third (Top) Layer: Waterproof, windproof jacket and waterproof pants. Snow gaiters and waterproof gloves for snow activities.
You may experience rain, sleet, or snow, so bring an umbrella or heavy-duty waterproof jacket. And always bring multiple layers of dry, warm clothing if you get wet.
Best Time | Crowds
March is a good time to visit Lake Tahoe because even though it’s still high season for snow sports, it’s the least impacted winter month for tourism (December through February are more impacted).
And with days stretching out further and daytime temperatures warming up, March can be an excellent time to stay. The three largest cities around the lake are listed below, and the best time to see them is in March.
South Lake Tahoe, California
Annually, millions of tourists visit South Lake Tahoe, the most populated city in the region. However, if you’re staying in March, you’ll have more choices of hotel rooms, and early to mid-March will be the least crowded time to visit, as you’ll be avoiding the spring break crowds that typically arrive in the last half of the month.
There are more choices, so hotel costs are less expensive here, ranging from $100 to $200 per night for a 2- or 3-star hotel or $200 to $800 for a 4- or 5-star hotel.
Heavenly, Kirkwood, and Sierra-at-Tahoe are resort destinations for visitors to South Lake Tahoe and its surrounding region. The weather in South Lake Tahoe becomes milder in March, ranging from a high of 45°F to 51°F degrees.
Truckee and Tahoe City, California
Truckee and Tahoe City are great places for winter visitors who want to be closer to the deep snow of the lake’s northwestern side. Northstar, Sugar Bowl, and Palisades Tahoe are all popular resorts for this region.
On the lake’s western side, the snow is deeper, so hotels cost more, ranging from $150 to $1,000 per night. The weather in these cities warms up in March, ranging from a high of 44°F to 51°F degrees. It’s better to visit this region early to mid-March before spring break.
Incline Village, Nevada
With the fewest residents of all major Tahoe cities (around 8,000 people), tourists may overlook Incline Village in favor of larger cities with more resorts. However, visitors will enjoy Diamond Peak Resort.
The weather begins to warm in March, ranging from 44°F to 50°F degrees during the daytime. Similarly to Truckee and Tahoe City, hotels in Incline Village cost from $100 to $1,000 per night. The best time to visit will be early to mid-March, before spring break.
7 Mountain Resorts to Visit in March
The Lake Tahoe region has many ski and snowboard resorts; some close in April, but most are open through the end of March. March can be a surprisingly heavy time for snowfall in the Tahoe area, and because this is near the end of the high season, it’s a great month for snowboarders and skiers.
March Snow Conditions: Freezing and icy in the morning, then warmer by 10:00 a.m. as snow begins to soften when the sun comes up.
For San Francisco visitors, Sugar Bowl, Sierra-at-Tahoe, and Kirkwood are the closest ski resorts (about a 3-hour drive away). For Sacramento visitors, Sierra-at-Tahoe and Kirkwood are the closest. But most conveniently, for Reno visitors, nearly everything is about an hour away.
Diamond Peak Resort
- Incline Village
Diamond Peak Resort is the only resort on this list in Incline Village, on the northeast corner of the lake on the Nevada side. This part of the lake is drier, with clearer bluebird skies.
💡 Check the best hotel deals here: Incline Village (via booking.com)
The resort is best for intermediate to advanced skiers and receives 9-16 inches of snow in March. Diamond Peak is also the closest resort to Reno (a 45-minute drive), and from San Francisco, you’ll need to drive for 3.5 hours. Read more about the resort on their Facebook page.
Heavenly Mountain Resort
- South Lake Tahoe
Heavenly Mountain Resort is a popular resort in South Lake Tahoe, the most populated city on the southeast side of the lake. Heavenly is in a central location within walking and commuting distance of restaurants, bars, and casinos, so it is the most touristy of all Tahoe resorts.
In March, the resort may receive 8-13 inches of snow, with more earlier in the month. The resort is a 3.5-hour drive from San Francisco and only one hour south of Reno, but you won’t need a car once you’re there. Read more about the resort on SkiHeavenly.com or visit their Facebook page.
- Outside South Lake Tahoe
Kirkwood is a ski resort located 45 minutes south of South Lake Tahoe, closer to Sacramento.
💡 The best accommodations: Kirkwood Mountain Resort (via booking.com)
The resort is better for more advanced skiers and receives 9-16 inches of snow each March. Kirkwood is a 2 to 2.5-hour drive from Sacramento, 3 hours from San Francisco, and a 1.5 to 2-hour drive from Reno. Read more about the resort on their Facebook page.
Northstar California Resort
Northstar California Resort has heavy snowfall characteristic of the lake’s northwest side; every March, it receives 10-17 inches of snow. Northstar is a luxury, family-friendly resort suited for beginner to intermediate skiers.
💡 Accommodations in Truckee (find deals via booking.com)
- Outside Tahoe City
Palisades Tahoe is the largest ski resort in California, known for its advanced routes and late-season slopes that stay open past other resorts’ closing dates.
💡 We recommend the Palisades Tahoe Lodge
This resort is on the northwest section of the lake and has among the most significant snowfall in Tahoe, receiving 10-16 inches of snowfall, most of it in early March. Palisades Tahoe is a 3 to 3.5-hour drive from San Francisco and less than an hour from Reno. Read more about the resort on their Facebook page.
- Outside South Lake Tahoe
Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort is a family-friendly and beginner-friendly resort located a 30-minute drive south of South Lake Tahoe.
Every March, the resort receives 8-13 inches of snow. Visitors from Sacramento will find this accessible (a 1.5 to 2-hour drive). In 2021, Sierra-at-Tahoe was severely burned in the Caldor wildfire, after which they closed temporarily.
However, they reopened in the 2022-23 season to great acclaim. Sierra-at-Tahoe is a 1.5-hour drive from Reno or Sacramento and a 3 to 3.5-hour drive from San Francisco. Read more about the resort on SierraatTahoe.com or their Facebook page.
Sugar Bowl Resort
- Outside Truckee
The cozy Sugar Bowl Resort has one of the snowiest winters in Tahoe, receiving 10-16 inches of snow every March. Additionally, Sugar Bowl is one of the oldest resorts in the country and is the best resort for visitors who prefer shorter lines and smaller crowds.
The resort is better for intermediate to advanced skiers. The resort is a 3 to 3.5-hour drive from San Francisco and 40 minutes from Reno. Read more about the resort on their Facebook page.