The Taylor Creek Visitor Center, operated in partnership with the Great Basin Institute, is located on the south shore of beautiful Lake Tahoe approximately three miles north of the City of South Lake Tahoe. The visitor center serves as a hub where four fascinating self-guided trails begin. The visitor center is typically open from June through October. Though the buildings are closed during the winter, the grounds remain open year-round and the site serves as a popular cross-country skiing and snowshoeing destination. Please note: Wood and charcoal fires are not permitted.
The Great Basin Institute is an interdisciplinary field studies organization that promotes environmental research, education, and conservation throughout the West. Founded in 1998 at the University of Nevada, the Institute’s mission is to advance applied research and ecological literacy through community engagement and agency partnerships to support national parks, forests, open spaces and public lands. The Great Basin Institute became the interpretive association for Taylor Creek Visitor Center in 2018.
The Taylor Creek Visitor Center is the hub of four fascinating self-guided interpretive trails and the Stream Profile Chamber, a primary attraction at the complex. This unique underground viewing chamber, located along the Rainbow Trail, provides a view of the stream environment allowing visitors to study a diverted section of Taylor Creek through a panel of aquarium-like windows, offering a fish-eye view of Taylor Creek’s underwater wildlife. One may spot brightly colored fish, diving ducks, crayfish or other hidden surprises in the chamber’s mural that follows Taylor Creek through the four seasons. This upfront wildlife experience is appropriate for all ages.
The Rainbow Trail, Lake of the Sky Trail, Forest Tree Trail and Smokey’s Trail meander through several habitats, from stream to marsh to forest to high desert. Interpretive signs along the trails provide a fascinating look at plant and animal life, geology and ecology, as well as natural and cultural history of the area. Another trail leads to the nearby Tallac Historic Site.
The Visitor Center is staffed with rangers who can provide more information about the area. A great selection of maps, books, and postcards are available for purchase. Rangers lead daily walks along the creek and trails, and the beautiful Lake of the Sky Amphitheater offers special evening programs in July and August. Check out their website at www.fs.fed.us/r5/ltbmu for program schedules.
The annual Kokanee Salmon Festival takes place here on the first weekend in October, during the fall spawning run of the Kokanee Salmon in Taylor Creek. This great family event includes a Salmon Feed, 5K, 10K and 1/2 Marathon Kokanee Trail Runs, 1/2K Kids Tadpole Trot, creek-side interpretive programs, as well as other special events and environmental education programs in the amphitheater.
The Visitor Center and Taylor Creek Stream Profile Chamber are FREE and open to the public. Wilderness permits for back country access are also available here. You can find the US Forest Service Visitor Center on Hwy 89, 3 miles north of South Lake Tahoe.