Lake Tahoe in September

Our California resident created this guide to learn about the weather and events in September and what to wear during your September visit to South Lake Tahoe

September is a spectacular month to visit South Lake Tahoe and nearby cities. This month marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn (unofficially on Labor Day, the first weekend of September). Still, visitors can enjoy many activities and events like music festivals, kayaking, biking, and horseback riding.

When arriving in Lake Tahoe after Labor Day, you may be surprised by the smaller crowds and quieter downtowns. However, the excellent weather is still here, and September is the golden time of the year to visit this region of California and Nevada.

While September is a great month to visit, there are some essential things you need to know before visiting. Especially our tips on what to wear and special events (scroll down!).

Special September Activity Tip

Experience a once-in-a-lifetime scenery in September on this cruise with an amazing crew. Worth every penny!

September Weather Overview

September marks Lake Tahoe’s final warm days of the year, with average daily high temperatures from 68°F to 77°F (20-25°C). However, the evenings and mornings may reach freezing temperatures, particularly at the end of the month. It rains one day on average and snow is highly unlikely.

We’ll cover early-month, mid-month, and late-month September weather in South Lake Tahoe. The average high temps throughout the month:

  • Early September: 77°F (25°C)
  • Mid-September: 74°F (23°C)
  • Late September: 68°F (20°C)

Though you are less likely to get a sunburn in September, you should still wear sunscreen and a hat as higher elevations can give you more exposure to harmful sun rays.

Daily temperature progression on a typical day:

  • Morning: 45°F
  • Afternoon: 73°F
  • Evening: 55°F
Early September

Labor Day is one of the ideal three-day weekends to enjoy Lake Tahoe. At the beginning of September, daily high temperatures are in the mid to upper 70 F° degrees, with evening and morning temperatures in the upper 30 F° degrees.

The daytime hours between 10:30 and 7:30 p.m. are comfortable. The sun sets at around 7:30 p.m., after which temperatures turn cold. Skies are clear most of early September with less than a 5% chance of rain.

Mid-September

Temperatures hold steady through the middle of August, with daily high temperatures around 80 F° degrees and evenings and mornings in the upper 30 F° degrees. Temperatures are comfortable between 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., after which the air cools quickly.

Daytime hours between 10:30 and 7:30 p.m. are comfortable. Skies remain mostly clear, with little chance of rain.

Late September

Autumn in Lake Tahoe begins in late September. Daily highs lower to the upper 60 F° to lower 70 F° degrees. Additionally, early mornings and evenings decrease to freezing temperatures.

There are a few comfortable hours between 1:00 and 6:00 p.m., but you’ll experience the area’s cooler temperatures in late September.

Snow and Rain Forecast in September

September in South Lake Tahoe is the shoulder season, and the likelihood of snow is extremely low, with just over a 0% chance. The month is often so dry that there is a higher risk than average for wildfires. There is, however, a higher chance of rain throughout the month, with up to a 9% chance by September 30.

Swimming in September

The Lake Tahoe water temperature in September can vary between 60 F° and 70 F° degrees, which means it will feel cold for swimming and may cause cold water shock. You can swim in September, but you should check the water temperature before going for a dip.

Remember that the lake is filled with melting snow, so it’s naturally frigid and dangerous to swim in, even during the warmer summer months. Enjoy your swim, especially in early September when the water is warmer. Please consider these safety tips for cold water:

  • Know your swimming limitations and consider a life jacket (drowning can happen to anyone, even if you are a good swimmer)
  • Enter the water slowly
  • Do not swim alone
  • Respect the dangers of cold water
  • Check the wind conditions and the weather forecast
  • File a ‘float plan’ before boating and leave with a friend or loved ones

What to Wear in Lake Tahoe

September afternoons in Lake Tahoe are warm and sunny, but daytime temperatures begin to cool quickly after mid-month. During the day, you’ll probably choose to wear layers like t-shirts, lightweight long-sleeved shirts, shorts, a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

You can still swim in the lake during the day, so bring a swimsuit and dry clothes to change into afterward.

During the evening, temperatures drop after 6:00 p.m., so begin to layer up with warm clothing after 5:00 p.m. By late evening, and in the early morning, you may even need winter clothing like jackets, gloves, and scarves.

The mornings before 10:00 a.m. will be cold, and you’ll want to wear warm clothing like sweaters, jackets, and scarves.

September Packing List for Lake Tahoe

September in South Lake Tahoe is still warm and sunny, though evenings and mornings may drop to freezing temperatures. So, here’s a list of items to pack for a September stay in Tahoe.

  • Layers of sun-protective, lightweight clothing for the daytime
  • Warm clothing layers for the mornings and evenings
  • Autumn clothing like jackets, gloves, and scarves for early morning and late-night outings
  • Hiking boots or running shoes with good grip
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, chapstick with SPF, and a hat
  • A water bottle and electrolytes for daytime activities
  • A swimsuit and beach clothes and shoes for the lake

Best Time to Visit and Crowds

If you’re visiting Lake Tahoe on the weekend in early September, you’ll see nearly as many tourists as you would in August (about 10% less). If you’re planning to visit for Labor Day weekend, you’ll need to reserve accommodation months in advance and prepare to arrive at popular spots before 9:00 a.m. However, schools have already begun in August, so you’ll experience fewer crowds as September progresses.

Tip: To find the September best rates on accommodations, book them months ahead if possible. However, you can also try to find deals and special rates via booking.com – Lake Tahoe Hotels (price check)

The best time to visit for the most comfortable daytime temperatures is in early September, but if you’d like fewer people, it’s best to travel to Tahoe from mid to late September.

Lake Tahoe Activities in September

There are multiple activities to enjoy in South Lake Tahoe in September, including:

  • Biking: Rent bikes or bring your own bike to explore the mountainous terrain in sites like Boreal Mountain Resort and Northstar California Resort.
  • Horseback Riding: The cooler temperatures of September make for incredible horseback riding along the lake.
  • Hot Air Balloon Rides: One unique way to experience a September sunrise is to sign up for a hot air balloon ride in South Lake Tahoe.
  • Hiking: Hike the trails at Heavenly Ski Resort or explore day hikes in the Lake Tahoe region. Look into the guided via ferrata tours at Palisades Tahoe for a more challenging trek.
  • Rock Climbing: There are multiple outdoor climbing spots in the Lake Tahoe area, and Heavenly Ski Resort has a climbing wall for those who prefer the adventurous indoors.
  • Watersports: This region is one of the only places with a “water trail” for visitors who want to explore the lake. Rent kayaks or even charter a lake cruise.
  • Other: Lake Tahoe offers many adventurous sports like ziplining and parasailing.

7 Lake Tahoe Events in September

September marks the unofficial beginning of autumn in the Lake Tahoe region, but several summer events continue through Labor Day, which falls on the first weekend of September. Labor Day weekend is the ideal time to visit most cities around Lake Tahoe, including South Lake Tahoe, which hosts memorable holiday activities. Ongoing activities include concerts, architecture tours, farmers’ markets, a wine festival, and a surprisingly early Oktoberfest. As the evenings get colder, most September events conclude by late afternoon, so be sure to have a campfire or fireplace to return to.

Heavenly Village Summer Concert Series
  • When: Friday and Saturday evenings in early September
  • Where Heavenly Village, South Lake Tahoe

To wrap up the summer, the Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe hosts a free, family-friendly live music series. The shops and restaurants near the stage are also excellent for visitors looking for dinner with a show. Read more at TheShopsatHeavenly.com.

Alpen Wine Fest
  • When: First weekend of September
  • Where: The Village at Palisades Tahoe, Northwest Shore of Lake Tahoe

The Palisades Tahoe resort hosts this long-running wine festival on the Sunday afternoon of Labor Day weekend. The Wine Fest includes live music and wine tasting at dozens of wineries. Tickets cost $40, and profits go towards a multiple sclerosis support organization. This resort is a one-hour drive from South Lake Tahoe, and after all the tasting, it may be best to stay at the lodge or in nearby Tahoe City. Read more at PalisadesTahoe.com.

Music in the Park
  • When: First weekend in September
  • Where: Tahoe Paradise Park, South Lake Tahoe

Music in the Park wraps up its summer music festival series in early September. This is a free and family-friendly festival that includes food trucks. Tahoe Paradise Park is a 15-minute drive from South Lake Tahoe, making it an easy day trip for visitors. Read more at VisitLakeTahoe.com.

Ski Run Farmer’s Market & Street Fair
  • When: Fridays in September
  • Where: Ski Run Boulevard, South Lake Tahoe

The Ski Run Farmers Market is another summer favorite in South Lake Tahoe. Live music and market vendors show up every Friday from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. Unlike other events, the Ski Run fair runs through late September. Read more at SkiRunFarmersMarket.com.

Fall Art Hike
  • When: Second weekend in September
  • Where: Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Loop, North Lake Tahoe

While Lake Tahoe is known for its hiking, one standout event in September – an art hike – also includes music, art, poetry, and dance. The 1.3-mile Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Loop trail features eight performances and art pieces. Altogether, the art hike takes 2.5 to 3 hours to complete and is appropriate for attendees of all ages (there is a 9:00 a.m. “mindfulness hike for adults,” if you prefer). Tickets cost $45 per adult and $15 per child. This trail is a 50-minute drive from South Lake Tahoe. Read more at TrailsandVistas.org.

Oktoberfest
  • When: Third or fourth Saturday in September
  • Where: The Village at Palisades Tahoe, East Lake Tahoe

This is the ultimate Oktoberfest in Lake Tahoe, held a month early on one of the last warm afternoons of the year. Travel to Palisades Tahoe, the ski resort just outside Tahoe City, about an hour northeast of South Lake Tahoe. Here, you’ll sit in beer halls, enjoy hours of German food, listen to Bavarian bands, and participate in the “Oktoberfest games” like a keg roll. Read more at PalisadesTahoe.com.

Historic Vikingsholm Castle Tour
  • When: Daily in September
  • Where: Emerald Bay State Park, South Lake Tahoe

During the summer, visitors to South Lake Tahoe can visit the Vikingsholm Castle, a Scandinavian mansion and designated National Natural Landmark. You’ll need to take a short but steep hike to get to the castle. Guided tours cost $15 per adult and are free for children under seven. This castle is a 20-minute drive from South Lake Tahoe. You can pay for a boat shuttle from South Lake Tahoe for a more relaxing visit, which costs $70-$125 more. Read more at SierraStateParks.org.