Tenaya is not only one of the most beautiful lakes in Yosemite, it’s one of the most accessible—when Tioga Road (the only road in the high country) is open, usually May through October. The fact that it’s easy to get to makes it one of the most popular sites in Yosemite, but because it’s located 8,150 feet about the valley floor, it’s still a lot less crowded than other attractions. The sandy swimming beach on the east end of the clear alpine lake is a favorite spot for sunbathing, with granite domes surrounding three sides. There’s also a smaller, typically less busy beach on the west end, but you’ll have to do a little wading to get there. For landlubbers, there’s an easy 2.5-mile hike around the lake.
By Deb Hopewell, AFAR Contributor
Stopping at this crystal glacial lake with fine mineral sand was the highlight of our Yosemite visit. A short quarter mile stroll from the parking area led to a beautiful beach surrounded by mountains and evergreens. What was supposed to be a quick stop for lunch became a full day putting, swimming in the crisp water, hanging our hammock for an afternoon nap in the sun. For it being a beautiful summer day, the lake was not even very crowded. I hope to go back soon, even if only in my dreams!
Lake Tenaya Dome
The dark "slit" just past halfway up the dome is actually about a twenty-foot ledge. I nearly slid over that on a free solo climb last summer. I'm not sure the pure water of Lake Tenaya would have been enough to revive me had I gone over. Oh well, a cool dip of the toes in this magnificent alpine lake were enough to bring me back to my senses to not try the climb again without a better pair of shoes and a powder bag.
Tenaya Lake, California, USA