• Activities:

    Photography

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Summer

Beach
Scenic
Wildflowers

Undoubtedly one of the best places around Lake Tahoe to capture the quintessential alpine wildflowers, lupine. 

A quick walk through Lake Forest Beach in Tahoe City, California provides unparalleled opportunities to photograph expansive fields of lupine. These brilliant purple wildflowers cover the lowland shore of this public beach each summer, typically starting in mid-July through mid-August. In drought years, the flowers start blooming earlier in the season, in late May or June. 

Growing up to three feet tall, these lupine blooms are among the most impressive you can find in the Lake Tahoe area. The bright purple flowers pop brilliantly against the deep blue color of the lake and the snow-capped peaks in the background. 

The best part? Reaching this spot couldn't be easier. From downtown Tahoe City, follow N. Lake Boulevard (also called Highway 28) north towards Lake Forest. Turn right on Lake Forest Road, then turn right onto Bristlecone Street. Parking along the road is free, and can get crowded during the day in summer. From the parking area, follow an obvious dirt trail towards the beach (less than 100 yards) and explore through the wildflower fields to capture your shot. (Note: The area with the wildflowers is often muddy.)

Photography tips:

  • Bring a tripod. Since the wildflowers are generally two to three feet tall, a tripod can help you photograph on their level without bending over the whole time. Tripods are also key for shooting at slower shutter speeds--a must in low light conditions. 
  • Aim for golden hour lighting. The hour before sunrise and the hour after sunset are known by photographers as "golden hour", since the sideways light is prime for shooting. These times of day will offer the best colors for the sky, lake and the lupine themselves.
  • Find a subject. When photographing a vast field of flowers, it's important to carefully choose a subject that draws the eyes into the frame. Try focusing on a single flower or a person standing among the fields.
  • Don't forget about the lake. Shoot from a higher angle to capture Lake Tahoe in the frame. 

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Shoes that can get muddy
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Jenna Herzog

Writer, editor and photographer for all things outdoors and travel. Happiest when on the trail, photographing a sunset, drinking a beer or climbing on rocks.

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