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Top Places to See Fall Colors in Lake Tahoe

Updated: Oct 25, 2021


Best places to see fall colors in Lake Tahoe

Autumn is one of the best times to visit Lake Tahoe. The summer crowds are gone, the weather is pleasantly crisp, and by mid-October, brilliant displays of fall color are peaking throughout Lake Tahoe and the Eastern Sierras.


In this post, I'll be sharing 6 of the best spots to see fall colors in Lake Tahoe and when to go!


Please enjoy Lake Tahoe responsibly by practicing the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.

 

↠ Fallen Leaf ↞

Yellow aspen trees at Fallen Leaf Lake in Lake Tahoe California.  Fall colors in Lake Tahoe.
A meadow of yellow aspens along Fallen Leaf Lake Road
Fall colors at Fallen Leaf Lake in Lake Tahoe.
Autumn views at Fallen Leaf Lake

Fallen Leaf in Lake Tahoe has multiple hiking trails, stunning views of Mt. Tallac, and in autumn, beautiful displays of fall color. The foliage can be seen along the shoreline of the lake and along the road itself (accessed via State Route 89). Fallen Leaf Lake Road is very narrow, but there are shoulder spots alongside the road, making it easy to pull over and explore the fall colors.



Best viewing time: Early to Mid October.

Photos taken October 9th & 10th 2019

 

↠ Hope Valley ↞

Yellow aspen trees in Hope Valley California in autumn.
Field of Yellow Aspens in Hope Valley

Hope Valley Cabin in the fall
One of the most popular photography spots in Hope Valley


Hope Valley is a top location for fall foliage. Located about 25 minutes south of Lake Tahoe, the spectacular autumn hues can be seen right from the highway. One of the best spots to enjoy fall colors in Hope Valley is along State Route 88 between Pickett's Junction and Blue Lakes Road.



Best viewing time: Mid October

Photos were taken October 11th, 2019

 

↠ Granite Lake ↞

Man fishing at Granite Lake in Lake Tahoe.  Fall colors at Granite Lake in Lake Tahoe
Fall foliage at Granite Lake in Lake Tahoe's Desolation Wilderness
Autumn at Granite Lake in Lake Tahoe's Desolation Wilderness

Granite Lake is a picturesque alpine lake located in Lake Tahoe's Desolation Wilderness. It's accessible via a short hike along the Bayview Hiking Trail. The hike is about 1 mile and features a fantastic viewpoint of Emerald Bay along the way. In the fall, yellow aspens dot the lake and the surrounding area.



Best viewing time: Mid October

Photos taken October 14th, 2018

 


↠ Spooner Lake Area ↞

Yellow aspen trees along North Canyon Road at Spooner Lake in Lake Tahoe
Yellow aspens along North Canyon Road at Spooner Lake
Yellow aspen trees along North Canyon Road at Spooner Lake in Lake Tahoe

Fall colors along North Canyon Road in Lake Tahoe
North Canyon Road in South Lake Tahoe

North Canyon Road in Lake Tahoe

If you want the granddaddy of fall color in Lake Tahoe, look no further than North Canyon Road at Spooner Lake. By mid-October, the picturesque walking trail is lined with brilliant orange and yellow aspens. Spooner Lake also happens to be my favorite spot to see fall color in Lake Tahoe.



Best viewing time: Mid to Late October

Photos taken October 16th, 2018

 

↠ Taylor Creek ↞

Yellow aspen trees along the Rainbow Trail at Taylor Creek in Lake Tahoe.  Fall colors in Lake Tahoe
Rainbow Trail at Taylor Creek in the fall
Autumn views of Mount Tallac from Taylor Creek Visitors Center in Lake Tahoe.
Autumn views of Mt. Tallac from Taylor Creek Visitors Center.

Fall colors in Lake Tahoe

Taylor Creek Visitor's Center is another excellent spot to enjoy fall colors in Lake Tahoe. Two recommended trails are the Rainbow Trail, which is lined with yellow aspens, and the Lake of the Sky Trail, which has views of Mt Tallac and leads down to Kiva Beach.


While visiting Taylor Creek in the fall, be sure to check out the annual Kokanee Salmon spawn. The bright red salmon can be spotted migrating upstream from viewing platforms along the Rainbow Trail.



Best viewing time: Early to Mid October

Photos were taken October 9th, 2019

 


↠ Emerald Bay ↞

Fall colors at Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe California
Fall colors at Emerald Bay

And last but not least, Emerald Bay. The classic views at Emerald Bay are stunning any time of year, but autumn just adds something special. There are lots of golden aspens around the bay and along HWY 89, making it a fantastic location for fall color. In 2019 the colors peaked a little later at Emerald Bay than at other spots on this list. I took this photo during the last week of October.



Best viewing time: Late October to early November

Photo taken October 29th, 2019

 

Where are some of your favorite spots to enjoy fall colors in Lake Tahoe? Share it in the comments! Also, make sure to subscribe to the blog so that you don’t miss the latest blog posts, videos, and other good stuff!


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Hi, I'm Gabriella, an outdoor photographer living in Lake Tahoe, California. 
 
I'm originally from New York and moved to Los Angeles in 2013 to try out living somewhere new and different.  I found myself loving the adventurous lifestyle and dramatic scenery on the west side of the country.  Eventually, I moved to Lake Tahoe in 2019 after falling in love with its natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle. 
 
On this site, I share adventure tips and destination guides to help you explore the beauty of Lake Tahoe, the Sierras, Northern California, and beyond...

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