North Lake Tahoe is beautiful year-round, making it a natural wonder for photographers of every skill level.
Visually speaking, Tahoe is an especially exciting location, because there is plenty of terrain to navigate year-round—and lots of contrast. More terrain equals more photographic opportunities—and in the Instagram age, that’s a chance you don’t want to miss. Few can imagine a more stunning combination than the epic mountains that surround North Lake Tahoe and the crystal blue water that fills it—which is exactly why you’ll want to bring the magic of North Lake Tahoe to your photo feed.
We’ve put together a list of five of our favorite places to snap breathtaking shots of our mountain paradise. With our advice, your Instagram account should be the envy of travelers worldwide.
1. Crystal Bay Fire Lookout
With footholds aplenty and many well-known points of interest throughout the area, it can be easy to forget the sheer scale of North Lake Tahoe’s epic beauty. But while it’s easy to appreciate the view no matter where you stand in North Lake Tahoe, some viewpoints offer a bigger slice of Tahoe’s landscape than others.
Situated above the Tahoe Biltmore, the Crystal Bay Fire Lookout is an ideal panoramic viewpoint. Thanks to a relatively easy hike that takes you high above the shoreline, and an open area that shows off 360 degrees of North Lake Tahoe’s breathtaking views, this is a point that shouldn’t be missed by anyone looking to snap a memorable photo. Use a panoramic head on your tripod (whether its mobile-sized or standard issue) to smoothly capture Tahoe’s beauty in a single, seamless take.
2. Bonsai Rock
Standing proudly at the midpoint between Sand Harbor and Hidden Beach is Bonsai Rock, a unique stone formation cracked by stunted trees which resemble the artful bonsai the landmark is named after. The formation overlooks the vast expanse of North Lake Tahoe’s crystal-clear waterscape, making this the perfect location for photographers seeking to capture the spirit of the region in one spot.
To get the perfect shot for your feed, stand-up paddleboard or kayak to Bonsai Rock from Sand Harbor or Hidden Beach. Bring your GoPro or water-resistant camera, and grab a picture that is sure to impress with turquoise water and the region’s unique boulder feature.
3. Tunnel Creek Trail
A moderately challenging but incredibly rewarding hike, the Tunnel Creek trail offers some of the best views of nature in North Lake Tahoe. With high vantage points off the beaten path and plenty of plant and rock formations along the way, you’ll be able to capture elements of Tahoe both big and small.
Even better: the area is fairly trafficked so, if you ask nicely, one of your Tahoe neighbors might even snap a photo of you and your group. We recommend stopping for a light breakfast and caffeine fix at the Tunnel Creek Cafe before you make the journey, so you’re nice and energized.
4. Squaw Aerial Tram
For those who want to get far above the shoreline—about 2,000 feet, in fact—without making a difficult hike, the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Aerial Tram can’t be beaten. Board the aerial tram anytime between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and enjoy a leisurely climb up the mountainside of North Lake Tahoe—from which you’ll see a plethora of trees, acres of granite and an impressive view of Squaw Valley quite unlike anywhere else.
To really take advantage of this, consider using a mobile wide-angle lens to get the biggest swathe of visual content possible. Although this view is sure to show you lots of Tahoe, this tip will give you maximum exposure from one of the highest points you can get to in the region.
5. Decks and Docks Along the Shore
After Opening Day at the Lake, many lakeside decks and docks will be open for public use. Docks are one of our favorite vantage points of the lake. Stably appointed on the shoreline and offering a horizontal perspective that is humbling in its beauty, you really get a sense of your place in the world as you stand before Tahoe’s expanse. Even better, decks and docks act as the perfect setting for an iconic Instagram shot.
In our opinion, a walk and photo on one of the region’s docks is an experience that shouldn’t be missed in Tahoe memory-making. Check out the dock at Kings Beach, West Shore Cafe, or a number of other locations around the lake for this experience. Take advantage of the natural sense of symmetry that decks jutting out onto a watery canvas create, or buck the trend and do something bold and unusual.
These are just a handful of locations where you can find picture-perfect beauty in North Lake Tahoe—truly, it is more difficult to find a bad view in Tahoe than it is to find one that is picture-perfect. To truly understand Tahoe’s natural beauty, we recommend staying a while to find a few hidden gems of your own. When you do, tag #TahoeNorth for a chance to be featured. See you on the ‘gram!