Contact UsStanford Sierra Conference Center
P.O. Box 10618
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158 Physical Address:
130 Fallen Leaf Road
Fallen Leaf, CA 96150
Summer is undoubtedly my favorite season in Tahoe, but fall comes in as a close second. When kids go back to school and town quiets down, the aspens turn golden and the weather starts to cool. I find fall a great time to hike, bike, pull out my warm clothes, and read a book by the fireplace. It’s nice to do these things to decompress from a summer packed with visitors, crowds, and the heat! There are quite a few fall events in the Tahoe area that are fun for visitors and locals. Plus, the shoulder season is a great time to find deals at hotels, restaurants and local stores. Summer gear is highly discounted by September, and stores are also rolling out winter gear, so you could be the first to purchase the newest and coolest items for the upcoming season! The fall season is also when Lake Tahoe is clearest. Without much water flowing into the lake in the fall months, there is less sediment and other pollutants coming in to the lake. If you’re in the Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe area this fall, here are a few things that are definitely worth checking out! Ironman Lake Tahoe takes place on Lake Tahoe’s north shore, September 21st. The 2.4 mile swim, 110 mile bike ride and marathon run (all at an altitude of 6,200+ feet!) is only for the insanely fit, but it’s a great event to watch! After exiting the water, racers ride along the lake and on to Truckee and past Northstar Ski Resort. The two lap course ends back at the beach and racers take off on a run that ends at Squaw Valley. Viewing will be great all day from anywhere on the bike or run course (Tahoe City, Truckee or on Lake Tahoe), but I’ll be in the Village at Squaw Valley for the finish!
The annual Fall Fish Festival takes place on October 5th this year at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center. This family-friendly event isn’t just for kids! It’s an awesome sight for anyone to see the bright pink Kokanee salmon swimming up Taylor Creek. If you’re not in Tahoe on the 5th, the fish are usually around a week before and after the festival. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see some of Tahoe’s bears stopping by the stream for a meal.
Happening at the same time as the Fish Festival is Camp Richardson’s Oktoberfest. This two-day event, October 4th and 5th, is a family-friendly event with food, activities, games and of course, beer! Costumes aren’t necessary, but there is a costume contest!Fall Colors in Hope Valley are stunning when the aspen leaves go from green to golden and light up the landscape. Hope Valley is located just over Luther Pass at the junction of Highway 89 and Highway 88 (Pickett’s Junction). There is lots of hiking in this area, as well as great road biking. The bike from Pickett’s Junction to Blue Lakes is approximately 28 miles roundtrip, and has great views with minimal traffic. Grover Hot Springs in Markleeville is another great place to take in the fall scenery and stay warm on a cool day! Just because summer is over doesn't mean that the fall isn't a wonderful time to visit Tahoe. You might not be swimming in Lake Tahoe or Fallen Leaf come October, but it's still a beautiful place to visit with a whole different set of perks for the season!
During the summer when we host Stanford alumni and their families, Stanford Sierra is packed full of guests. We keep our maximum to 180 during the spring and fall conference seasons, but during the summer, we often have upwards of 250 guests! It can get pretty loud and chaotic here on serene Fallen Leaf Lake. So Bruce Campodonico, our head of maintenance (that title doesn't really give Bruce credit for all he does here), is on a mission to create hidden, peaceful spots where you can get away from the bulk of your fellow event attendees. Here is a rundown of what Bruce has created so far:Bruce and his crew built the Snooper Chalet so our 5 & 6 year-olds in the summer would have a home base. This is also where yoga classes are held. During the conference season, the Snooper Chalet is quiet. You get there by taking a left uphill when you see the cleared area on your way back to the parking lot. Behind the main lodge Bruce and his crew built a stone wall and included a nice seat. It's a nice shady area and there isn't much foot traffic, just a few of our staff members heading to and from the lodge. I think the seat built into the wall looks like a throne... During the summer it's chaos on the lakefront during daytime hours. But in the fall, it's often quiet and a great spot to read or just relax. Bruce's latest creation is a gazebo on the lake. Perfect for a romantic moment or some quiet alone time. The gazebo is between the entrance to Stanford Sierra and the main lodge. Look for the stone steps leading down to it... So if you see Bruce during your visit to Stanford Sierra say "hello" and thank him for all the cool stuff he has built around Camp!
I highly recommend extending your stay in Tahoe after visiting Stanford Sierra Conference Center. In my last post, I suggested a few hikes and restaurants in the South Lake Tahoe area. Hiking and eating are two of my favorite things to do, so I started there, but Tahoe has a lot more to offer! Last summer my family visited and I realized I needed to diversify my typical activity suggestions to include fun things for all ages, abilities and fitness levels. So, here are a few more fun things to do on the South Shore:
ActivitiesTallac Historic Site and Taylor Creek Visitor Center: Located near Fallen Leaf Lake off of Highway 89, these are both great places to explore with kids. You can visit one or the other, or walk along the bike path to get between the two. The Tallac Historic Site offers a self-guided walk through historic buildings and beautiful scenery. Check their event calendar to see if anything interesting is happening while you’re in town! The Taylor Creek Visitor Center is just down the road (less than a mile) and provides information about some of the area wildlife. There is a pretty neat Stream Profile Chamber where you can see the animals and plants in the stream through large windows. During the fall, don’t miss the Kokanee Salmon Festival! The creek is filled with Kokanee salmon swimming upstream to spawn—it’s quite a sight! Lakeview Commons and El Dorado Beach: All summer, Lakeview Commons and El Dorado Beach (Lakeview Avenue and Highway 50, South Lake Tahoe) offer many activities for individuals and families. The beach is a fun safe area for kids to splash around in and swim in Lake Tahoe. A concession stand sells locally made ice cream and other snacks, and there are boat rentals on the beach. One of Tahoe’s most popular activities is paddle boarding, and this is a great place to learn! South Tahoe Standup Paddle offers rentals, lessons and guided tours right on the beach. For your daytime beach visit, make sure you have a swimsuit, towel, sunscreen and sunglasses! In the evenings, Lakeview Commons has free outdoor grills (bring your own charcoal and food to grill) and a great view of the sun setting behind the mountains. During the summer, there are paddleboard races starting at 6:30pm on Wednesday nights, and there is live music and vendors on Thursday nights.
If you’re spending a few extra days in Tahoe, don’t miss one of Tahoe’s most iconic sights: Emerald Bay. Emerald Bay and Fannette Island are two of the most photographed places in Tahoe. Views from the parking lots on either side of the bay are wonderful. If you’re up for it, walk down the steep path to Emerald Bay Beach from the Vikingsholm parking lot and take in the views from lake level.
The Heavenly Gondola is another great place to see amazing views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains. Located in the Heavenly Village, the gondola takes you to the top of the mountain. Be sure to stop at the halfway point to enjoy the best views of the basin. At the top, enjoy fun summer activities including tubing, zip lining, hiking, and a ropes course! Heavenly Village is also an entertaining place to spend a few hours. There are many different shopping, dining and entertainment options in the Village which makes it a great area to stroll, window show and enjoy an ice cream cone on a hot day!Looking for more suggestions? Just ask the front office when you're at Camp and they'd be happy to make more suggestions for enjoying a few extra days on Tahoe's South Shore.
When people are planning their trip to Stanford Sierra Camp and Conference Center they frequently ask, “What do I absolutely need to have at Camp?” There are quite a few things you need at Camp, but I’ve narrowed my list down to ten essential items. Here they are to get you started!
Weather has warmed, the trees are in bloom and the lake is calm in the morning. This means it's time to paddle Fallen Leaf Lake! I stopped on my drive to work this morning and took this photo.We have a fleet of 12 stand-up paddle boards at our boat dock, if you're not sure what a stand-up paddle board is (or an SUP as they are also called) then head on over to thesupguru.com. In advance of meeting or event here at Stanford Sierra, the group coordinator chooses open boat dock hours. During open boat dock hours, our staff members will fit you with a life jacket and help you check out the watercraft of your choice. The first time I tried paddle boarding I was hooked! We bought boards soon after and spend most of our paddling time on Lake Tahoe. When I can sneak out of work, I paddle on Fallen Leaf Lake. If you haven't SUP'ed before, when water is calm is the best time. Check out our video below, Matty gives an excellent intro and some more advanced tips on how to paddle. If you want a quick lesson for your first paddle on Fallen Leaf Lake, find me in my office on the first floor of the main lodge. I would love to join you at the boat dock for a quick paddle!
Lake Tahoe native Ryan Goralski is a Sadhana Yoga Chi instructor and Licensed Massage Therapist who provides his services for attendees of all-inclusive conferences and retreats at Stanford Sierra Conference Center.We recently sat down and talked to Ryan: What is your current job? In my role at Stanford Sierra Conference Center, I am a yoga instructor and massage therapist for attendees of spring and fall conferences and retreats. I usually lead yoga classes in the morning, then provide massage therapy sessions in the afternoon. This will be my third season. What is the best thing about your job? It really starts on my commute to work, when I’m driving or riding my bike out to Fallen Leaf Lake. There’s no better way to start the day. I also love the Cathedral Room, where I hold yoga sessions. It overlooks the lake, but more than that, it allows me to lead the class into a sunrise session and embrace the yoga tradition. As we do sun salutations, the sun comes right over Angora Ridge and reflects off the lake. I can’t think of a better indoor location to do yoga. Seems that most folks just want to unwind or decompress from their everyday busyness... I get to guide our guests into achieving a more relaxed and fluid well-being whether it's yoga or massage therapy or a bit of both. For guests coming in the spring or fall conference season, what is a ‘can’t miss’ activity or place to see? Start off with a yoga session in the Cathedral Room, doing sun salutations as the sun rises over Angora Ridge. Certainly the views from the top of Mt. Tallac are some of the best in the universe. It’s hard to beat an early morning paddle on Fallen Leaf Lake – either in a paddle boat or on a stand up paddleboard (SUP). It’s beautiful when it’s glassy and calm. Do you have a favorite memory of your time working at Stanford Sierra? It’s hard to narrow it down to one event, because it’s always a breath of fresh air to go out to Stanford Sierra and participate in the daily activities. It’s not so much the weather, as I also love it in the rain. It’s more the experience of being in the great outdoors – you’re surrounded by incessant natural beauty and the overall experience is truly unique. Currently there is no cell service at Fallen Leaf Lake. What do you think are the benefits of disconnecting? My perspective as a health practitioner is that it’s all about creating fluidity and spaciousness in the body. Fallen Leaf Lake helps us to unfold our bodies from the closed modern gadgetry posture and open our peripheral awareness back to the natural environment. The lack of cell service frees you up to be truly open to our surroundings, helps boost creativity, and reconnects you with your higher well-being.
Every fall Stanford Sierra Conference Center hosts a group of fifth and sixth graders from East Palo Alto. Briefly liberated from their urban environment and enthused by mountain air, water games and sugar--the children run wild. On one of my first days at camp I stood in the lobby watching a competitive game of tag. One boy running helter skelter, nearly collided with the Camp Director, Dave Bunnett. Tilting his head to look at Dave, the boy's jaw went slack. Dave looked down, smiling. After a moment of appraisal the boy broke the silence, “You're a giant!”And he was right. Dave is 6'5''. Bemused at the child's assessment, Dave watched the boy walk away. That was one of my first encounters with Dave and it encouraged me to subscribe to the general consensus here at camp: Dave is a nice guy. Dave has been the Camp Director here at SSC since 1995, but he began at the bottom. He was a Stanford University student and summer staffer here in the early 80s. Feeling at home on the lake, Dave stayed on and began working his way up through the ranks. “I can still remember the day I drove onto Fallen Leaf Road for the first time,” Dave told me as we sat and talked in the old lodge. “I was coming to work and I drove in on the road and I looked around and I just said, 'Wow, this is pretty incredible! I have to figure out how to stay around here.'” After Dave worked as a summer staffer responsible for supervising children, cleaning dishes and making beds, Dave was promoted to DOPO, department of plant operations, where he handled maintenance issues. Then Dave traded his work belt for a telephone when he assumed the position of assistant camp director. Seven years later he was made the camp director, a position which he has held for nearly two decades. The annual visits for the East Palo Alto youngsters is one of the accomplishments of his tenure for which Dave is most proud. It was not his idea. During a midseason interview with a summer staffer, Dave was informed that while happy, the student felt unfulfilled. His reasoning was that while he was having an excellent summer, it was a selfish pursuit--he hadn't helped anyone but himself. This sparked a long, involved conversation. The result of that conversation was the pro bono, annual visit of underprivileged children which continues to this day. It is fairly evident to most people who encounter Dave that he has an adventurous spirit. That spirit is imbued within Stanford Sierra Camp. After Dave graduated from Stanford, he joined the Peace Corp and worked in the Solomon Islands. He said of his experience, “At the time it was very, very third world with very little medical care. People were happy and well-fed because they had a good supply of natural resources, but it was very, very primitive where I was.” Some of Dave's best adventures were sailing.“At one point I sailed a boat from Spain to Venezuela,” he told me, his signature smile beaming across his face. “I'd done some Hawaii trips before. But Spain to Venezuela, we had some good times. We got caught in a big storm at one point, and that was sort of fun.” That's they type of guy Dave is, someone for whom storms are an adventure - not something to keep you from going out again. Dave keeps the sailing program going strong at Camp with a good fleet of boats and staff training every season. See Dave in our Stanford Sierra sailing overview video. Since assuming his position as Camp Director, Dave no longer backpacks across Europe, but he still partakes in the adventures that can be found around camp. He runs the Angora Loop nearly every day during the summer and often sails Lake Tahoe. Dave shares his camp experience now with his wife, Tamara, (they are about to celebrate their 19th wedding anniversary!) and his daughters Danica and Tatum. During the second to last week of the fall conference season, we had our first heavy snow. The clouds hung low, hiding the mountain peaks. Snow drifted serenely to the ground, as if each flake had all the time in the world to fall. Standing in front of the Main Lodge and looking out at the lake really felt mystical. The clouds and snow buffered all other sound, leaving camp a tranquil refuge seemingly all on its own. Dave believes that it is his responsibility to make this feeling of magic last, allow it to permeate everyone's experience here—from guests to staff. When I asked Dave about whether that initial feeling of magic has lasted his thirty-years at Stanford Sierra Conference Center, he said, “It's different in my position now. I have to worry and take care of stuff to keep it magical for you guys.”
Each summer for over 50 years, we host Stanford alumni and their families for one week of blissful summer camp on the shore of beautiful Fallen Leaf Lake.Our summer program is hugely popular with Stanford alumni, who wait up to five years to secure a spot for their family. The key components of the program are outdoor activities in our amazing setting on Fallen Leaf Lake, quality educational programs including faculty speakers and fun activities to get the group interacting. You can incorporate these successful elements of our summer family camp into your group event at Stanford Sierra Conference Center. Many groups hold meetings in the morning and evenings to have afternoons free for fun, outdoor activities. Excellent options are either a guided hike or boating. Maybe a kayak relay race? We can help you plan your activities and schedule a staff member or two to join your group for a hike or to run your boating race. For an overview of hiking in the area, watch our hiking video. During the day, plan plenty of breaks for the group to relax and network together. Weather permitting we hold coffee breaks outside on the deck overlooking Fallen Leaf Lake. The serene setting seems to put meeting attendees at ease. For evening activities we have two good options to borrow from summer camp, a bonfire and sing-a-long on the beach with s'mores and disco bingo. If you have guitar players or singers in your group, encourage them to bring their instruments to lead your group in singing camp songs together. We can provide the bonfire on the beach, song books and s'mores. If you don't have any musicians in your group, we can recommend local groups you can hire for your bonfire sing-a-long. Disco bingo is a Sierra Camp tradition that continues with guests maintaining their enthusiasm for it year after year. Disco bingo is bingo, with disco music (costumes strongly recommended) added. Maybe your bingo caller will play "Dancing Queen", then all female attendees get up and dance. Some beer and wine at dinner can help get your group in the mood to boogie! We can provide the enthusiastic bingo callers in disco attire. You can add other summer camp activities to your Stanford Sierra meeting including yoga classes and lunch or dinner barbecues. Contact us and we can help you plan your event and suggest activities so you meet your event goals and your attendees have a relaxing and fun visit to Fallen Leaf Lake.