• Gabriella Viola

Top Places to See Fall Colors in Lake Tahoe

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

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!

↠ Fallen Leaf ↞

A meadow of yellow aspens along Fallen Leaf Lake Road
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.

Where: Fallen Leaf Lake

🍁Best viewing time: Early to Mid October

Photos taken October 9th & 10th 2019

↠ Hope Valley ↞

Fall colors at Hope Valley off State Route 88
Field of Yellow Aspens in Hope Valley

Hope Valley is a well known 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.

Where: Hope Valley

🍁Best viewing time: Mid October

Photos taken October 11th 2019

↠ Granite Lake ↞

Fall foliage 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.

Where: Granite Lake

🍁Best viewing time: Mid October

Photos taken October 14th 2018

↠ Spooner Lake ↞

Yellow aspens along North Canyon Road at Spooner Lake
Fall colors at Spooner Lake

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.

Where: North Canyon Road at Spooner Lake

🍁Best viewing time: Mid to Late October

Photos taken October 16th 2018

↠ Taylor Creek ↞

Rainbow Trail at Taylor Creek in the fall
Autumn views of Mt. Tallac from Taylor Creek Visitors Center.

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.

Where: Taylor Creek Visitor's Center

🍁Best viewing time: Early to Mid October

Photos taken October 9th 2019

↠ Emerald Bay ↞

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.

Where: Emerald Bay

🍁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!

Check out the video version here:

You might also enjoy:

A Guide to the Most Stunning Photo Locations in Lake Tahoe

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For more photos of Lake Tahoe check out the gallery.

Please enjoy Lake Tahoe responsibly.

Always practice the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.


Gabriella Viola is a photographer and outdoor enthusiast currently living in Lake Tahoe, California. 

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