This is the most iconic location at Lake Tahoe after Emerald Bay and with good reason as you can see. Just about every photographer that comes to Tahoe wants to shoot here and I’ve been asked for directions many times. Photos of Bonsai vary greatly as the water levels in the lake rise and fall. Lake Tahoe is controlled by a dam at the outlet to the Truckee River and the water line can go up and down by as much as 6 feet. The above photo was captured at low water. This year however, after much rain and snow over the winter, all the rocks but Bonsai itself are covered. Having the right clouds in the sky at either sunrise or sunset makes a huge difference when photographing here so plan accordingly. Sometimes you’ll want to use your polarizer to cut reflections, but this image was created without one in order to capture the reflections.
Sunset is best by far with sunrise second.
Parking on the east shore of Lake Tahoe is very limited and these directions require that you be alert or you’ll miss the parking spot . Head south from Incline Village 4.5 miles on hwy 28 and you’ll pass Sand Harbor State Park on your right. Keep going south 0.25-0.5 miles and the road will start to climb. After a few hundred yards there will be a small paved pull-over on the right big enough for about 5 cars. This is your spot. Next walk back the way you came 100-200 yards and drop down one of the numerous impromptu trails towards the lake. WARNING: these are steep trails of loose sand and gravel.