Bonsai Rock is located on the east side of Lake Tahoe on the Nevada side of the lake, just south of Sand Harbor, and about 20 miles from South Lake Tahoe. Click here for a map. Click here for more information on Lake Tahoe. For more information on how to find this hidden gem, keep reading.
Bonsai Rock is a unique place. It has a couple trees growing out of the rock. The trees look to be Bonsai Trees because of the fact that the trees growth is prohibited by the rock itself. Now I realize Bonsai is an art form but this may be an example of naturally occurring Bonsai.
Getting to Bonsai Rock is a bit tricky so bear with me. Here are the coordinates that I used. 39.183690° N , -119.927088° W. This is the approximate location of the turnout you will want to park at to get to Bonsai Rock. The turnout is on the west side of the road and a couple hundred feet south of Bonsai Rock. Park here and walk north alongside the road until you see a sand path that goes down to the lake. There are a couple other paths but you want the sandy one. You should see a group of rocks off the coast below. That’s where you need to be. It’s a semi steep unstable decent so make sure your hands are free and you are wearing the proper footwear.
I took this weeks post picture at sunset. The lighting is a bit tricky with the sun setting behind Bonsai Rock. In order to get some detail in the foreground and the background, you will need some help from your ND grad filters or if you so choose, shoot HDR. Along with a polarizer I stacked 2 three stop ND filters together to get the proper exposure. The polarizer was used to take the reflections off of the water and to also help give me the shutter speed I needed to blur the water.
Its a tricky place to find and a tricky place to photograph. Bring your tripod, camera with wide angle lens, filters, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a cable release. Do take caution. I wouldn’t recommend this spot to anyone with disabilities and it wouldn’t hurt to take a buddy with you just in case.
This place has multiple challenges but if you come prepared it’s worth all the trouble. You will come away with some wonderful photographs.