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Lake Tahoe Sunset Photography

No matter where you may live, it is possible to catch amazing sunsets. Where I live it's just a little bit more impressive. Lake Tahoe offers a diverse and interesting landscape to shoot the golden hour, sunset, and the amazing color streaks that appear after the sun falls below the horizon line. So where are the best places around the lake to shoot sunset and the surrounding times? Well lets get into it. Let's start north and work our way around the lake clockwise at some of the places I go to shoot most frequently.


Kings Beach , CA

Kings Beach offers an almost oceanic horizon line due to the size of the lake and the lack of iconic Tahoe boulders sticking out of the water. If you're standing on the beach facing out towards the lake the sun will typically be setting to your right. At this location I personally like to shoot after the sun has fallen below the horizon line. You'll have a nice soft ambient light and miles of (usually) flat water that follow. I would shoot this area wide angle and perhaps throw a subject out there for a silhouette shot.


Sand Harbor, NV

Well if you Google search images of Lake Tahoe this is the area that is sure to pop up. Crystal clear waters and those iconic huge boulders that seemingly just dropped out of the sky and perfectly into the lake. From Sand Harbor state park there are a variety of photographic options that you can't miss. Try climbing out onto the rocks off trail and getting down closer to lake level. If your standing on the beach try to get a nice low shot a little less wide to emphasize the size of the boulders. Whatever spot you choose you won't be disappointed. On a lucky day the sky will catch fire and be hot pinks, bright purples, and some soft dark blues. I like to shoot this location with a wide angle lens, long exposure, and use some high quality ND filters. This gives that water it's soft almost still look and really drags out the movement of the bright and beautiful clouds going by.


Emerald Bay, CA

Emerald Bay needs no introduction as it very well may be the most iconic area of Lake Tahoe. If (and that is a reallllly big if) you can snatch some parking either in the lookout parking lot or the the roadside surrounding that lot, then you are in for a lovely treat. The floating island gives a great focal point no matter how you choose to compose the image. Again, I would shoot this wide generally speaking to capture the sunset and at long exposure if I felt so inclined... but I have also shot this with a 70-200mm to capture more detail of the island and that works just as well. You cannot go wrong here.


Tahoe City CA

Tahoe City is a small bustling town on the west shore of Lake Tahoe. The views, like North Lake are vast as you look out across the glistening water. You won't find sand here but as you explore the the area you will find some sweet spots where pebbles make up the beach. This makes for a fantastic low and wide shot, as well as a medium range maybe 34-70mm shot. I like to place an item in the water to give perspective of just how clear the water is. If you don't have anything floating, you cannot even tell its water...on a still day it will simply look like dry land!

These spots are some of my most frequented, however, by no means the only places I recommend. As a local I cant give up ALL the sweet spots. But spend some time in Tahoe and give yourself the leisure to really explore and you are sure to find all sorts of hidden gems!

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