Best views of Lake Tahoe.
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12 BEST Views of Lake Tahoe

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You won’t have to look very hard to get some of the best views of Lake Tahoe!

With stunning blue waters and a scenic backdrop of the Sierra Nevadas, the views are spectacular no matter where you are around the lake.

Here’s exactly where you can find the BEST views of Lake Tahoe.

Pin points on a map showing the best locations for view of Lake Tahoe
Click the image to view the map of the best views of Lake Tahoe

1. Emerald Bay State Park Lookout

Emerald Bay is arguably one of the most scenic parts of Lake Tahoe. It is a shining blue cove jutting out from the main body of water, surrounded by emerald pines and towering mountains, and one of the best ways to see it is from above.

Nina in a purple top posing along the Emerald Bay lookout trail with a view of boats sailing on the lake.
Views from the Emerald Bay Lookout Trail.

The Emerald Bay Lookout towers around 600 feet above Lake Tahoe and around 6300 feet above sea level. If you ever see an aerial view of Emerald Bay, there is a good chance it was taken here, one of the best views of Lake Tahoe.

You can look out over the bay and tiny Fannette Island from your lofty viewpoint. If you want a second vantage point, a similar view is the famed Inspiration Point just down the road.

2. View of Lake Tahoe From Cave Rock

They say that Cave Rock Viewpoint is the best sunset spot in South Lake Tahoe, but it’s a pretty awesome spot, no matter the time of day.

From the rocky viewpoint, you’ll be able to take in 180 views of the lake and shoreline, with the added benefit of being pretty easy to access.

A view from Cave Rock overlooking the highway besides Lake Tahoe and snowy mountains in the distance on a sunny day.
An amazing view from Cave Rock!

You’ll find the small parking area by Cave Rock Road. From here, follow the dirt path along the shore towards a rock. Once you reach the rocks, you’ll have to scramble to get up, but it is nothing too strenuous.

3. Monkey Rock

Get uninterrupted views of Lake Tahoe from the grand finale of the Monkey Rock hike.

A group of hikers standing at the peak of Monkey Rock with a brilliant view over Lake Tahoe and mountains in the distance.
Hikers on the Monkey Rock summit!

For a relatively short hike, the payoff is incredible, making it one of the best views of Lake Tahoe. Plus, it has the added benefit of featuring a rock remarkably shaped like a monkey.

From the peak, you can take in the stunning blue waters, sandy coast, and snowcapped mountains, making the perfect backdrop to Monkey Rock.

4. Rubicon Trail—Best Views of Lake Tahoe!

If you are looking for a trail with a view, you can’t get much more scenic than the legendary Rubicon Trail. You won’t know where to look, with jaw-dropping vistas seemingly every step of the way.

For most of the route, you will be contouring the shoreline between Emerald Bay and D.L Bliss State Park, meaning expansive views of the lake itself, Luther Pass, Fannette Island, Maggie’s Peak, and many other prominent landmarks.

Nina in hiking gear walking along the Rubicon Trail through trees and bushes with Lake Tahoe to the right.
Nina long the Rubicon Trail.

Although hiking the whole trail is epic, it is a long one at around 8 miles one way, so you might want to consider only tackling portions.

Read our guide to the Rubicon Trail for more info.

5. Gondola at Heavenly Resort

Get incredible lake views with minimal effort by taking the scenic gondola at Heavenly Resort. This ski resort also offers summer trips, so you don’t have to worry about waiting until the winter.

View over Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area as seen from the gondola.
You get crazy views from the gondola!

Board the gondola from Heavenly Village and travel up, up, up 2.4 miles, disembarking at the Observation Deck on the way up. In addition to beautiful lake views, there is a cute cafe where you can grab a drink and a bite to eat.

The gondola then takes you almost directly up the mountain, so try to position yourself for a window view as you head up.

6. Historic Stateline Trail

Although the Stateline Trail is pretty much uphill the whole way, your saving grace is that it is paved, making it a little easier on the legs.

Nina sitting on a wooden bench looking out over Lake Tahoe an it's forests on a sunny day.
Resting with a great view from the Stateline Trail!

The views on the way up, however, will help you forget all about the thigh burn, and before long, you will make it to the site of one of the earliest fire lookout towers at Lake Tahoe.

Although this lookout tower is no longer there, you can still explore the base and the best views of Lake Tahoe that come with it.

A view over boats on Lake Tahoe with trees surrounding the lake from the Stateline Lookout Trail.
Overlooking Lake Tahoe from the Historic Stateline Trail.

The trail straddles the Nevada – California state line, hence the name, and with every step you take, the views get better and better.

7. Whale Beach

Tucked on the lake’s east shore, Whale Beach is a remote gem only accessible by hiking or from the water.

Nina in hiking gear walking down the steps towards Whale Beach with a view of unique looking rocks in the water on a sunny day.
Heading down to Whale Beach.

There is free parking at the trailhead, so start following the trail down the shore, passing a few other beaches along the way, including Secret Cove, Boaters Beach, and Creek Beach.

Eventually, you will reach the beautiful, quiet Whale Beach, where you can take in lake views without the crowds accompanying some other viewpoints.

A view from standing on Whale Beach with smooth, round rocks on the beach and in Lake Tahoe on a sunny day.
This beach has some awesome looking rocks!

Huge boulders are scattered in the water, looking remarkably like whales breaking the waves, and are reflected in the crystalline waters.

OK I know what you’re thinking, any beach will have great views of Lake Tahoe, and you’re not wrong! But we think this is definitely one of the best ones.

8. East Shore Trail

East Shore Trail is one of the most scenic trails on the coast of Lake Tahoe, and the best thing is, you won’t have to climb to lofty heights to take it all in.

The trail is relatively new, completely paved, and runs right along the shore, meaning you’ll have lake views the entire time you walk or ride (it is also a popular bike path).

Aerial view overlooking the Tahoe East Shore Trail as people walk along the paved pathway between trees with a view of Lake Tahoe to the left.
Along the East Shore Trail.

You can start the trail from just outside of Incline Village. It offers incomparable views all the way to Sand Harbor State Park for 3 miles. The trail also offers direct access to public beaches, so you can chill and take in the views before you continue on.

9. Eagle Rock Trail

Located on the western edge of the lake, you will find the Eagle Rock Trail. This short and sweet trail takes you to an overlook on top of an eroded and dormant volcano!

Nina in a pink top, sitting on a rock with her arms spread in a happy pose overlooking Lake Tahoe and the forests from Eagle Rock Trail.
Enjoying the view along Eagle Rock Trail!

The total elevation gain is only around 250 feet, so it shouldn’t take long to reach the summit, but it is steep, and once you reach the main rock, there isn’t much of a trail to follow. As long as you are going up, you should be okay!

At the summit, just beyond the pine forest, the incredible blue of the lake is breathtaking, and in the distance, you should be able to make out peaks and jagged ridges of the Sierra Nevada.

10. Memorial Point Scenic Overlook

Most viewpoints give you lofty views of the lake, but not Memorial Point.

This viewpoint lets you get up close to the water, close enough to dip a toe, and still gives you expansive views of the big blue and surrounding shoreline, making it one of the best views of Lake Tahoe.

A view over the blue water around a rocky area of Lake Tahoe as seen from Memorial Point Scenic Lookout.
Views from the Memorial Point Scenic Overlook.

This viewpoint is located near Sand Harbor State Park, and the views can be reaped with minimal effort.

From the parking lot, you have to follow the short dirt path down to the water, taking in the many information plaques as you go that will fill you in on the history, geology, and animal life at the lake.

11. Take a Heli Tour For Aerial Views of Lake Tahoe

For a once-in-a-lifetime trip, take a helicopter ride over the lake and take it all in from almost 10,000. You’ll be able to take in the shape of the lake from your unique vantage point and admire the tall mountains surrounding it.

A beach along the shores of Lake Tahoe with some green water and with the surrounding area covered with snow as seen from a helicopter.
The best views of the lake by far will be from a helicopter!

You’ll also head out further afield and begin heading over the mountains, over Cascade Lake and Fallen Leaf Lake, Echo Lake, and Lake Aloha, offering a chance to see these hard-to-reach bodies of water.

Get a great vantage point of Horsetail Fall and see the snow-capped peaks in a way you would never have imagined.

12. Lake Tahoe Views From a Cruise Boat

Take in some of the best views of Lake Tahoe from a remarkable vantage point—on the lake itself! Plenty of companies offer tours around the shores, taking you to scenic gems such as Emerald Bay and past stunning waterfalls.

You won’t have to worry about hiking up a hill or fighting for a car parking space; just sit back and enjoy the ride.

A white cruise boat on Lake Tahoe sailing past a tree-covered Fannette Island.
Get up close and personal on a cruise!

The surrounding mountains look even more impressive from the water, and the lake is even bluer. If you want a real treat, opt for a sunset lake cruise, where the colors change before your eyes. 

Read more of our guides to Lake Tahoe:

We hope this helped you find some of the best views of Lake Tahoe!

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