At Lake Tahoe’s Taylor Creek Visitor Center, you can look eye-to-eye with a fish.
The Taylor Creek Center, located about three miles north of the intersection of U.S. 50 and Highway 89 on Lake Tahoe’s south shore, is home to the Stream Profile Chamber, a unique underground exhibit that offers underwater views of the creek, which flows into Lake Tahoe.
There, visitors will find floor-to-ceiling glass windows offering an underwater glimpse of the creek, which is home to trout, Kokanee Salmon, crayfish, frogs and a variety of water insects.
The view of the creek can be mesmerizing as visitors can watch various fish, such as the pinkish-colored Kokanee, and other creatures swim by the giant windows.
In early October (October 5-6 this year), visitors can view the annual fall migration of the salmon during the Fall Fish Fest, which is held at the Taylor Creek Center. In addition to interpretive talks about the salmon, the even includes a salmon feed, an interactive play, trail runs, a treasure hunt and a visit from Smokey Bear.
In addition to offering a fish-eye perspective, the Stream Profile Chamber contains a large mural depicting the four seasons of Taylor Creek and displays describing the various fish, plants and animals found in or around the creek.
The chamber, however, is only part of the reason to visit the Taylor Creek facility, which is operated by the U.S. Forest Service. The complex, which is open from Memorial Day weekend through October, also includes an information desk manned by forest service rangers and a small gift shop.
Additionally, the Lake of the Sky Amphitheater, an outdoor stage with seating that is a popular site for special nature programs offered by the rangers.
There are also several short trails that wind through the area around the visitor center.
For example, the Rainbow Trail is a half-mile paved loop route that leads to the Stream Profile Chamber. This trail starts at the visitor center and soon leads into a small grove of quaking aspen.
Interpretive signs along the way describe the natural history of the area. At about the halfway point, you reach Taylor Creek, a natural trout and salmon-spawning stream.
The creek is peaceful and beautiful as it meanders through the trees, heading toward Lake Tahoe. A wooden walkway has been built over the stream and affords a nice place to just stand and enjoy the lush surroundings.
The month of October is the time of year the fish are most active and when you can see several varieties of fish swimming in deeper pockets of water in the creek.
The trail leads into the Stream Profile Chamber. Exiting out the other side, the trail continues into the trees before winding its way through green meadows and over several smaller streams.
If you look behind you on the trail, you can see majestic Mount Tallac in the background (it’s the mountain with the snow that is shaped like a giant cross on its southern face).
The other main developed trail is Lake of the Sky Trail, which leads from the visitor center down to Lake Tahoe. This half-mile trail includes a wooden wildlife viewing deck, which offers nice views of the Taylor Creek marsh and meadow.
The deck also boasts a colorful, panoramic display that points out many of the plants and animals that live in the area (and where you might see one if you look closely). It is also a popular spot for birdwatchers.
For a list of summer evening programs in the Lake in the Sky Amphitheater go to http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/ltbmu/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5165788.
The Taylor Creek Visitor Center and the Stream Profile Chamber are open daily from 8 a.m.-5p.m. but call in advance because hours will vary (530-543-2674). There is no admission charge.
Richard Moreno has a passion for Nevada, its towns and people.