United States Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe, CA USA

2 images 1 contributors Shoot freely

Rob Bartlett

About this spot
This is a much photographed little bay on the West shore of Lake Tahoe, CA. Pretty much a must-shoot if you're in the area. It is within Emerald Bay State Park, and there are a number of interesting things to see and do in the immediate vicinity, including trails and kayak rentals. Drones are prohibited, but pretty much anything else goes otherwise for photographers.

The scene works year round. There isn't really much going on in Fall, there is little color in the trees. Probably the best time to shoot the bay is sunrise, when the light is interesting and there are reflections on the water. Daylight is fine, it's a pretty scene, but it would be helpful to have some scenic clouds. Sunset might provide some interesting light on the mountains in the background or clouds.

Winter photography can be very rewarding, though negotiating the snow-clogged roads and traffic can be a trying experience.

Close to the the road there is a spot for a waterfall shot with the bay in the background. During the spring melt it can be quite energetic. Most of the Photography action, at least the grand landscape scenes, are shot from near the road, which is great for lugging heavy Landscape Guy gear. There is a castle ("Vikingsholm") in the park proper that has a parking lot and a lower section that is reached via a fairly steep pedestrian trail from a parking lot. That may be worth a visit. During summertime, apparently, you can rent a kayak and paddle out to Fanning Island, where there is a decrepit stone tea house or something which may provide camera fodder.

Emerald Bay Road, also known as Hwy 89, is the how you get there. The road is somewhat narrow, twisty and turny, and steep in places but there are a couple of turnouts and parking lots right next to the perfect vantage spot and if you get there early you can park and have minimal walking to do. If you go there later in the day it tends to be mobbed with tourists, so good luck.

Join PhotoHound to learn how, where and when to capture amazing photos here

  • Know the best times, seasons & shooting conditions
  • Detailed directions - maps, co-ordinates and directions
  • Know how to get there - where to park or how to reach there using public transport
  • Browse inspirational photos and learn how they were taken - see the EXIF details
  • Bookmark your favourite spots for future reference
  • Know exactly when to shoot for beautiful photographs - sunrise, sunset, blue hour and astrophotography
  • Detailed, 7-day weather forecast at this location
  • Share your images with like-minded travel photographers
Essential Information

Web links