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Tenaya Lake

Tenaya Lake is a stunning alpine lake located in Yosemite National Park, often referred to as the “jewel of the high country.” Nestled at an elevation of about 8,150 feet along Tioga Road, it offers breathtaking views with its crystal-clear waters surrounded by granite domes and rugged mountain peaks. This picturesque lake is a favored spot for both relaxation and recreation among visitors.

Overview of Tenaya Lake

Location: Situated in Yosemite’s high country, along Tioga Road (Highway 120).

Accessibility: Tenaya Lake is one of the most accessible high-altitude lakes in the Sierra Nevada, thanks to the road that runs right along its shore. Parking areas are available along the road, providing easy access to the lake.

Key Features

Scenic Beauty

  • The lake is framed by granite landmarks, including Polly Dome to the west and Pywiack Dome to the east, providing spectacular photo opportunities, especially at sunrise and sunset.

Clear Waters

  • The water in Tenaya Lake is remarkably clear and refreshing, though it can be quite cold, even in summer, due to its high elevation.

Activities at Tenaya Lake


  • Tenaya Lake Loop: This easy trail runs around the lake and is perfect for all ages and skill levels. The loop is approximately 2.5 miles long and offers panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
  • Connecting Trails: For more adventurous hikers, trails leading from Tenaya Lake provide access to nearby areas such as Clouds Rest and the Sunrise High Sierra Camp.


  • There are several picnic areas around the lake with tables and restrooms, making it an ideal spot for a scenic picnic.

Swimming and Water Activities

  • Swimming in Tenaya Lake is a refreshing way to enjoy the area, though the water is typically very cold. Kayaking and canoeing are also popular activities, allowing visitors to explore the lake’s serene waters at their own pace.

Rock Climbing

  • The granite domes and cliffs surrounding Tenaya Lake are popular with rock climbers, offering a range of climbing opportunities.


  • The lake’s clear waters and scenic backdrop make it a favorite spot for photographers looking to capture the stunning beauty of Yosemite’s high country.

Visiting Tips

Best Time to Visit

  • Tenaya Lake is most accessible from late spring through early fall, as Tioga Road is closed during the winter months due to snow.


  • While there are some basic amenities like picnic tables and restrooms, there are no food services at Tenaya Lake, so visitors should bring their own food and water.


  • Parking can be limited during peak times, especially in mid-summer. Arriving early in the day can help ensure you find a spot.

Environmental Considerations

  • As with all natural areas, it’s important to follow Leave No Trace principles to help preserve the beauty and integrity of the environment. Keep to designated trails and picnic areas, pack out all your trash, and be mindful of wildlife.


  • The high altitude can be challenging for those not accustomed to it. It’s important to stay hydrated and protect yourself from sun exposure, even on cooler days.


Tenaya Lake offers a slice of high Sierra paradise with its stunning mountain views and crystal-clear waters. Whether you’re looking to hike, swim, kayak, or simply relax by the water, Tenaya Lake provides a refreshing and beautiful escape in the heart of Yosemite National Park.

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