Lake Tahoe’s East Shore

When I moved to California, and saw Lake Tahoe for the first time, it literally took my breath away. The juxtaposition of clear, emerald water, blue sky, towering pine trees and the peaks of the Sierra Nevada is truly a sight to behold. The challenge can be that you want to capture it all in one photograph!

Bonsai Rock, on the Nevada side of the lake, offers a unique focal point to the expansiveness of the lake and California Sierra Nevada mountains beyond. It is a unique boulder just off the shore of the lake where small trees grow out of the rock and persevere despite the wind and elements. My significant other and I drove up here one Saturday afternoon in February. Sacramento that day was a sunny, clear day, but we were pleasantly surprised to find puffy clouds, then later, some more ominous storm clouds as we approached the lake. The right cloud conditions can really create more drama and interest to a photograph!

Finding Bonsai Rock is a small challenge, but not insurmountable. It is approximately 1 mile south of the Sand Harbor Overlook on Nevada’s north shore. The approximate geographic coordinates are 39.186027 N, 119.928220 W. The spot is not marked, but can be seen from Highway 28 from the gravel turn off on the lake side of the highway. From there, it is a short but steep hike down one of the various sandy and rocky trails to the shoreline. Wear good shoes, bring a flashlight and/or headlamp, and in winter, most certainly dress for cold, windy conditions. The wind at the shoreline was pretty fierce this particular day.

We were awed to witness constantly changing light conditions as the sun dipped in and out of the constantly changing and volatile clouds. Having the rock set against the backdrop of these weather conditions and amazing clouds gave the scene an almost spiritual quality. There were maybe a dozen photographers shooting the scene in complete silence, I’m sure because they were in awe as much as I was!

Another location on Tahoe’s east shore is nearby Sand Harbor, known for it’s picturesque boulders, rocks and pines growing to the shoreline. I’ve heard recommendations to photograph here at sunset, due to the direction you are facing, but I photographed here at sunrise this past September and found the California mountains and boulders lit a serene pink. Overall, the Nevada shoreline offers sandy shorelines and picturesque boulders to create interest in the near or middle distance of a photograph. It is hard to go wrong here in amenable light and weather conditions!

My name is Beth Young, and I'm a licensed architect specializing in healthcare facilities, with a strong passion for capturing the beauty of the natural world through photography. Please feel free to browse or comment. If you wish, prints are available using long lasting and high quality photographic paper or museum quality canvas using archival inks at my website:

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