Sandy beach
Cliff jumping
Hike-in Required
Sensitive Habitat
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Parking Pass

Not Required


Sheltered cove. Large granite boulders. Photography hotspot.


Lots of trash at times. Steep and loose trail.


Nearby Lodging + Camping


Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.