After the pleasant sunrise, I got on my way to Lake Tahoe. However, I quickly learned that the fire that broke out the day before resulted in the closure of CA-395 north of Lee Vining, and I had no choice but to detour via Tioga Road through Yosemite National Park.
Back in late June through early July, I took a long photography road trip. I began my trip by making a quick stop at Mono Lake. If you haven’t checked out the photos that I took while there, you can click here to take a look. You will like them.
DRIVE ON TIOGA RD VIA YOSEMITE NP
As I briefly mentioned above, when I learned that I had to detour, I gotta admit that I was a bit annoyed.
It became a 5 1/2 hour drive. Instead of normal 2 hours.
But, when I started seeing the lakes along Tioga Road, I was glad that I was taking the road. I found myself constantly pulling over and hopping out of the car with my camera.
So, it ended up taking a whole lot longer than 5 1/2 hours in total. Sometimes that’s how things turn out.
MT. DANA LOOKED AT FROM TIOGA LAKE
I spent quite a bit of time at Tioga Lake.
The sky was as blue as cobalt. The water was as calm as glass.
Mt. Dana loomed beyond this calm Lake. Because it was late June, the snow in the mountains had not completely melted away.
Mammoth Peak and Kuna Crest North in the far distance beyond Glacier Canyon looked quite small from where I was. Don’t let the look fool you though. They are tall peaks, above 11,000 feet and 12,000 feet respectively.
The water was still cold. Too early to jump in although maybe it was warm enough to soak one’s feet in.
I just didn’t have a whole lot of time, so it had to wait for another time.
Before taking off, the gentle breeze that had welcomed me quieted down just in time for me to capture the reflections that I really liked – the reflections of Mt. Dana and the mountains in the far distance in the water. The clarity of the water at the lake was quite something.
The snow-clad mountains were a pleasure to look at, and I wished I had had more time to walk around the lake for a while.
But, it was time to get back on the road.
NOTE: I did make a stop at Tenaya Lake as well, but I didn’t find the view interesting from where I was. However, later when I went back in August, I loved being at the other side of the lake, which was close to Sunrise Lakes Trailhead. I’ll share some of the photos that I took there when they are ready.
LAKE TAHOE – BEST SPOT TO WATCH MILKY WAY
Since I watched the movie City of Angels, Lake Tahoe had been stuck in my head. I had always wanted to go visit the lake but never got around to it. But the impression that the lake left on me had never gone away.
Since Mono Lake was my first stop and I was heading to Lassen Volcanic National Park, driving through or near Lake Tahoe seemed like a good idea.
SUNSET AT SECRET COVE
When I looked for places for sunset, it stood out because many locals in Lake Tahoe shot there, but not a single photographer mentioned that it was just that. If you also didn’t know, you learned it from here first.
Secret Cove is definitely secluded and hidden from the road, because it is located over 800 feet below NV-28, although there are many cars parked by the locals at the shoulder of the road.
I was near the entrance of the beach, and that was when I saw the sign ‘optional’ nude beach. And subsequently I saw about the half of the folks, young and old, male and female, at the beach, about 25 of them, were fully naked.
In retrospect, I don’t think they minded me carrying a camera around. It was probably me thinking that I hoped it didn’t bother them. Of course, I did my best keeping my camera pointing in the direction of the sun.
Once I set up my camera and framed the shot, I simply waited.
And soon came the moment that I waited.
SUNSET GLOW AT SECRET COVE
As it is always the case with either sunset or sunrise, the moment didn’t last long. Once the sun disappeared over the mountain line, the beach goers started packing up their stuff and leaving.
I really enjoy the few minutes right after sunset. The sunset glow still permeated through the sky lingers.
MILKY WAY OVER LAKE TAHOE
My stop for the Milky Way was Crystal Bay although I initially considered driving farther south to the west side of the lake. It was closer to Kings Beach, to which the road (CA-267) I was to take next morning to head to Lassen Volcanic National Park was a lot close.
By the way, the deepest point in Lake Tahoe is in Crystal Bay.
I found myself at Speedboat Beach, which turned out to be one of the best spots to photograph the Milky Way.
In this particular circumstance I loved the fact that a venue called Fairwinds at the beach provided a plenty of light to light paint the beach. And yet, it was dark enough to see all the details of our galaxy and the stars as I would in the dark.
27,000 LIGHT YEARS AWAY
The shallow beach filled with interesting rock formations was also perfect. These boulders in different sizes and shapes were more than what I was hoping to include in my shots.
The light pollution from Carson City wasn’t too bad for the Milky Way watching either. It was one of the things that I noticed as soon as I set my foot in the beach. It is Lake Tahoe, and yet, there wasn’t a whole lot of light pollution.
MILKY WAY WATCH PIER
After taking a few shots with the rocks in the foreground, I started venturing farther out down the beach.
I saw a pier, and my first thought was that it would be nice to get on it. So, I hastily walked up to it. But what greeted me was a sign reading private property.
I didn’t want to trespass. So, instead, I decided to frame the pier with the Milky Way as was. I think it turned out alright.
NIGHT IS YOUNG
Surprisingly, there was not a whole lot of locals coming to the beach and finding their whispering nests behind those boulders.
Considering the music blaring from the venue where some kind of high school prom afterparty was being held, I can’t say that it was a quiet night. But, I was just glad that the right amount of light flooded the beach.
As I was wrapping up, a group of probably 6 or 7 local young adults entered the beach through the passage where I shot the photo above. How perfect, I thought to myself.
The night was young.
Next morning, before leaving Lake Tahoe, I decided to take a quick stroll to the beach. It was still early, so I saw only a couple heading into the lake with their stand up paddleboards.
Blue sky. Calm water. Snow-capped mountains in the far distance.
The only thing missing was a cup of coffee. It was time to go get one.
Whether the memory of the movie that I saw over 18 years ago played a role or all the photos online that I’d seen over the years planted a seed in my mind, Lake Tahoe had always lingered in the back of my mind.
And I came and saw it. Of course, I barely scratched the surface, and Secret Cove was just one of many spots where I had wanted to check out.
Most of all though I was quite pleasantly surprised by how dark and clear the night sky was at the lake.
I am sure that any part of the lake would be perfect for either sunset or sunset, but the sunset spots on my list are Zephyr Cove, Cave Rock, Chimney Beach, Bonsai Rock, Sand Harbor and Sand Beach, which are all in the Nevada side.
It is only 2 hours away from Lee Vining. I hope to visit the lake soon.
Have you been to Lake Tahoe? What is your favorite spot(s) at the lake to visit? What other areas of the lake did you pay a visit? Have you been to all or any of the spots I listed above?
Thanks for reading.