Photographing Lake Tahoe - 2. Emerald Bay

Not Photoshop enhanced. Just the most amazing sunrise ever.

Not Photoshop enhanced. Just the most amazing sunrise ever.

Emerald Bay

Emerald Bay is THE classic Tahoe photo location and it’s so easy to capture as you can set up your camera for this spot right on the side of the road. What you see above in my image ALIGHT is the most popular location but there are many excellent compositions if you walk around. A good image of Emerald Bay can be had on any day but to improve your images three elements will help; 1. A windless day to allow for glass-smooth water. 2. Partly cloudy skies. 3. A great sunrise to light up the clouds and water. Emerald Bay gets amazing sunrises because clouds will form overhead and often leave a little gap on the eastern horizon where the sun will peek through, lighting up the clouds.

Best Times

Sunrise hands down. Sunset can work but you’ll need an amazing sunset that will light up the eastern sky.

Best Months

April, May. October, November. Any month can work for Emerald Bay but these four months are the most consistent for partly cloudy skies that lead to great sunrises.


Emerald Bay is 17 miles south of Tahoe City on highway 28 and 8 miles north of South Lake Tahoe. There is parking for about 20 cars right at Emerald Bay or 1/4 mile north at the Vikingsholm parking lot.