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Bonsai Rock

Reno + East Lake Tahoe Area, Nevada

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Bonsai Rock

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  • The Bonsai Rock cove.- Bonsai Rock
  • Bonsai Rock.- Bonsai Rock
  • The sandy bottom of this cove shows off the beautiful waters of Lake Tahoe.- Bonsai Rock
  • Looking south along the lakeshore.- Bonsai Rock
  • Looking north just after sunset.- Bonsai Rock
  • Watching the sunset on the boulders.- Bonsai Rock
  • Lake Tahoe's waters lap against the boulders.- Bonsai Rock
  • Milky Way over Bonsai Rock.- Bonsai Rock
  • Night landscape view of the cove.- Bonsai Rock
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Sheltered cove. Large granite boulders. Photography hotspot.
Cons: 
Lots of trash at times. Steep and loose trail.
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Region:
Reno + East Lake Tahoe Area, NV
Congestion: 
High
Location type: 
Cliff jumping
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

Bonsai Rock is a granite boulder in the middle of a sheltered swimming cove on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe. It remains slightly less popular than other areas due to the lack of official parking and signage, but it is a great swimming spot nevertheless. Stand-up paddleboarders and kayakers frequent this location as well because it is easily to access from the open waters of the lake. A few of the boulders sheltering the cove are great places to jump in and explore the cool blue waters. There is even an area to cliff jump into the lake from the southeastern side of Bonsai Rock. Note that at low water levels this spot can become dangerously shallow, and caution should always be exercised. Despite the lack of a beach at this location, there is a fair amount of sand in the cove itself between the boulders. 

The rock in the center of this cove is presumably named for the small trees that are growing from cracks in the boulder that resemble the small bonsai trees created by the Japanese. Traditionally bonsai is a type of Japanese art form in which trees are grown in small containers, and by using various techniques of cultivation, miniature mature trees are produced. The trees growing from Bonsai Rock are not officially bonsai, as they have not been purposefully cultivated, though it is possible they are being limited in growth by the lack of root space within the granite boulder. 

No official trail exists to Bonsai Rock, so the best approach is to park in the large turnout on the west side of the road just south of the cove. From here find a large trail down to the shore and follow the shore north until you arrive at the cove. Many other trails exist to this location from the various turnouts near the cove. As long as you have your sense of direction tuned in, most trails will eventually lead you to this awesome swimming location.

Cliff Jumping Safety

Swimming holes and cliff jumping can be extremely dangerous and unpredictable outdoor activities that pose significant risks regarding personal safety. Changing water levels, unseen rocks, and river bottoms that have shifted with currents and seasonal weather can turn a well-known jumping area into a serious hazard. Prior to engaging in these activities, extensively scout the current conditions, and understand the risks involved with serious injury and the logistical challenges of evacuation from the water so you can make safe decisions.

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(28 within a 30 mile radius)

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