Take a Ride on the M.S. Dixie II

Dated: September 14 2023

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Did you know that Zephyr Cove is home to the M.S. Dixie II, the largest paddle-wheeler on Lake Tahoe? The M.S. Dixie II is a 72-foot-long, 400-passenger paddle-wheeler cruising Lake Tahoe since the 90s. It offers a variety of cruises, including lunch cruises, dinner cruises, and sunset cruises. Passengers can enjoy stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains, live entertainment, and delicious food.


The MS Dixie II is one of Lake Tahoe's three paddlewheelers. It leaves from Zephyr Cove and goes to Emerald Bay. It then stops at Fannette Island and takes in the view of Vikingsholm before returning to the mainland. A real paddlewheel powers this vessel. Its rear wheel moves through the water and propels it forward. Although this component only accounts for a small portion of the ship's propulsion, the rest is provided by underwater propellers. It's also diesel-powered! 


The MS Dixie II, a newer version of the MS Dixie, was built specifically for Lake Tahoe. Since this is the boat's second iteration, the boat's lineage can be traced back to the original vessel, which was launched in 1949. From 1972 to 1993, the MS Dixie traveled across Lake Tahoe. During one stormy night, the powerful winds pushed waves into the vessel's lower decks, filling the hold with water. After the crew members came out the following morning, they discovered the boat was resting on the lake's bottom, about ten feet below the surface. Because of this incident, the entire day's cruises on the Dixie were canceled. It was then raised, cleaned, and repaired.


During the 1990s, MS Dixie started to show its age, and in 1993, it was announced that it would be its last season. To replace it, the company decided to build a new boat called the MS Dixie II. It was constructed in Wisconsin, driven in pieces across the country, and assembled in Zephyr Cove.


Most of the trip is taken out in the middle of Lake Tahoe. The highlight of the trip is going to Emerald Bay, a glacial valley separated from the rest of the lake by a narrow entrance. As you pass through this area, the water's depth decreases rapidly until there are only a few feet between the rocks and the bottom of the boat. During times of extreme drought, the MS Dixie can't enter this area. The paddlewheel starts up again after passing Vikingsholm. The Dixie then cruises back to Fannette Island and across Lake Tahoe to the port at Zephyr Cove. 


The daytime cruise, which lasts for about two hours, offers a variety of photo opportunities along with Lake Tahoe's fresh air. It's easy to see why this cruise has been voted “Best Cruise in Nevada” by Nevada Magazine!

Tickets range from $55-99 and can be purchased in advance.

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Nancy Beaulieu

After graduating from Emerson College in Boston, Nancy's love of travel and the great outdoors brought her to Lake Tahoe to spend the Summer of '83. "I loved the Lake Tahoe area so much that I decided....

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