There’s a place at Lake Tahoe where we were able to look eye-to-eye with fish without getting wet.
The place is the Stream Profile Chamber at Lake Tahoe’s Taylor Creek Visitor Center on the lake’s southern shore. The center is located on Highway 89, about three miles north of the intersection of U.S. 50 and Highway 89.
The Stream Profile Chamber offers the chance to get an underwater view of Taylor Creek, one of the many natural streams that flow into Lake Tahoe.
Floor-to-ceiling glass windows in a special, underground exhibit present a one-of-a-kind view of the creek, which is home to trout, Kokanee Salmon, crayfish, frogs and a variety of water insects. In addition to offering a fish-eye perspective, the chamber contains 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. Several short trails wind through the area around the visitor center.
My favorite is the Rainbow Trail, 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 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).
In the summer months, the Taylor Creek Visitor Center and Stream Profile Chamber are open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no admission charge.—-Richard Moreno