Nature & Wildlife

Nature & Wildlife

Here are just a few of the residents you may spot during your time in Lake Tahoe. We encourage you to enjoy seeing them in their natural habitat (from a safe distance!).

The Black Bear

The American black bear - found only in North America, is estimated to have a population of 750,000. Today, these beautiful creatures can be found in and around the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Black bears are approximately 4-7 feet tall and can weigh up to 500 pounds (although females tend to be smaller, only weighing up to 300 pounds). They are capable of reaching speeds up to 30 miles per hour. And they are superb climbers, with short, curved claws that enable them to quickly climb trees.

Fun Fact: “Black” bear refers to the species of bear, not their color. Black bears range in color from blonde to black, with cinnamon brown being the most common color.

But Be Bear Aware! Be careful. Be aware of your surroundings and remember, it is against state law to feed bears. For your safety, law enforcement is working hard to remind people to practice proper food storage and trash disposal. Food, beverages, and ice chests must be stores in bear-resistant containers and garbage must be disposed of in bear-proof garbage containers. For more information about Black Bears in the Lake Tahoe Basin and being “Bear Aware”, please visit: US Forest Service - Be Bear Aware or
Guidelines for Living In and Visiting Bear Habitat 

Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

Lahontan cutthroat trout are the largest inland cutthroat trout in the world and the only trout native to Lake Tahoe, but unfortunately, they are considered an endangered species. There have been times when the lake has been stocked, but they are a rare find in the Lake. Fishermen are much more likely to catch other introduced sport fish – including lake trout (mackinaw), rainbow trout, brown trout, kokanee salmon and largemouth bass.

Yellow-Bellied Marmot

The Marmot is the largest of the ground squirrel tribe and is often called a “woodchuck” or “groundhog”. Its upper back is yellowish brown, and it has a buff-colored under-belly. The Yellow-bellied Marmot dwells at high altitudes (at elevations of 6,500 feet and higher) and is most often spotted during the summer months sunning itself on rocks. Marmots come out of hibernation in the spring and feed on meadow vegetation.


A resident of the wild west, the coyote is a very curious animal and often lives close to humans. They usually hunt at night and can be seen near highways in the Tahoe Basin.

Mule Deer

This species of deer gets its name from their unusually large ears which resemble those of a mule! They are closely related to the white-tailed deer (which do not live in the area). They can often be seen grazing in the meadows in the mornings and evenings.


Lake Tahoe can be a wonderland for birding enthusiasts. The Northern Goshawk can be seen soaring through the forest looking for prey year-round. The TRPA, Forest Service and the states of CA and NV have listed the bird as a species of special interest.

Learn more about our partnership with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and find great resources to help you go birding in Zephyr Cove.