Sandy beach
Cliff jumping
Hike-in Required
Sensitive Habitat
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Lying at 8,150 feet, Tenaya Lake is a beautiful alpine lake popular with summer swimmers and outdoor enthusiasts that sits between Tuolumne Meadows and Yosemite Valley. Like Tenaya Canyon below it, Tenaya Lake is named after Chief Tenaya of the Ahwahnechee people, who inhabited much of Yosemite before their forced relocation in the 1850s. With Highway 120/Tioga Pass Road running along it’s north shore, Tenaya Lake is incredibly accessible when the seasonal road is open, typically from May through October. The views surrounding the lake are spectacular.

Nestled below Tenaya Peak and surrounded by multiple glacially-shaped domes, Tenaya Lake is set in stunning scenery. The west end can be accessed by the Clouds Rest/Sunrise Lakes Trailhead, and it offers the lake's best vista. Here you'll find a cozy little beach and an island that can be reached with some wading. A nice mile-long trail follows the south shore of the lake from the west end around to the east shore. A larger parking area is provided near the east shore adjacent to the large swimming beach.

The National Park Service permits use of small, non-motorized boats on Tenaya Lake. Picnic areas and vault toilets are located at multiple points around the west, north, and east shores.

Logistics + Planning

Parking Pass

National Park Pass


Surrounding granite scenery. Beaches. Paddle access.


Accessible only when Highway 120 is open.


Nearby Adventures


This should be on your destination list while visiting Yosemite, if the roads are open. A friend and I we camped just down the road (~15min drive) east of the lake at Tuolumne Meadows Campground. The weather amazing and warm averaging high 80s for the entire week long trip. We made several trips to Tenaya Lake to cool off, and enjoy the sun. The beach's have fairly coarse white-ish sand made of granite made from hundreds of years of glaciation and erosion, and by mid day the water is a beautiful deep shade of blue. There are several day use areas to enjoy, I would avoid parking on the road if possible. There was a lot of traffic and hazards caused by people's bad parking along some the narrow 2 lane roads that pass the lake. One night at the beginning of the trip we came and set up to photograph the night's sky. I will definitely visit again.
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