bonsai rock Lake Tahoe

Bonsai Rock Lake Tahoe

Bonsai Rock is a really neat photo spot located on Lake Tahoe. It’s a little tricky to find and requires scrambling down a steep incline. It only takes about 5-10 min to go down the sandy trail. It is located on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, about 20 miles north of South Lake Tahoe. 

This popular photography spot provides an opportunity to practice your long exposure skills. I only had 24 hours in Tahoe, the sunset was ok, I would love to go back and spend more time there in hopes of better weather!


For the South Tahoe area, warm season is generally from June 19 to September 15 with average daily highs above 72°F. The cold season is generally from November 16 to April 1 with an average daily high temperature below 48°F.

Camera Gear & Settings

  • Camera Sony A7R
  • Lens Sony 10-18
  • Focal Length 18mm
  • ISO 100
  • Aperture F18
  • Shutter Speed 2.5 sec
  • Tripod Mefoto Q1

I positioned the tripod down lower to achieve a more dramatic effect of the rock. You will want to try multiple compositions and locations on the rocks and in the water depending on the water level.

Processing Workflow

  • Adobe Lightroom
  • Import & tagging
  • Set black and white points
  • Lots of cleaning/spot removal
  • ISO adjustment
  • Dehaze
  • Graduated filter on the sky
  • Radial filter on bonsai rock
  • Vignette around the edges


What To Bring

  • Water/snack
  • Camera
  • Wide angle lens
  • Zoom lens
  • Tripod
  • Filters (ND and/or polarizer)
  • Shoes with good traction and that are waterproof
  • Flashlight/headlamp to make your way back after sunset
  • Jacket depending on the season



  • Search Google Images, 500px, or Flickr for additional composition inspiration
  • Lake Tahoe on Instagram
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