Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful locations in America (and I’m not just saying that because I live here), but it’s also one of the most photographed. It’s no wonder that so many people find it to be the perfect location for a wedding proposal. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or prefer a more intimate setting, Lake Tahoe offers a variety of unique and intimate locations. Here are my recommended locations for some of the best spots to create lasting memories, get down on one knee, and say “YES!”
The Best Locations to Propose in Lake Tahoe
Emerald Bay State Park, but with a twist
Look, we ALL know you think you want to propose at Emerald Bay. But you don’t actually and I have 999 reasons why. The first of which is that the logistics of proposing at the most crowded location in Lake Tahoe are a nightmare. Emerald Bay has been attracting more visitors than ever – the most recent estimate is that in the summer Emerald Bay sees 10,000 visitors A DAY. But it has parking for a fraction of that. Every proposal I have photographed at Emerald Bay has been rife with schedule problems due to parking issues. There is no vantage point that means you will have a people free photo. Secluded? Definitely not. The competition for a private moment amid the breathtaking scenery is going to result in a crowded and less-than-ideal setting for what I think is a pretty important life event.
Additionally, if it’s winter, the unpredictable weather in the Lake Tahoe adds another layer of complexity to proposing at Emerald Bay State Park. If it is a year with significant snowfall, Emerald Bay and the roads to it may be completely closed all together due to avalanche danger and control. Navigating these challenges, combined with potential logistical hurdles such as limited parking and accessibility concerns, makes proposing at Emerald Bay State Park a risky choice that may not live up to the envisioned romantic experience. Couples looking for a more controlled and intimate setting might want to consider alternative locations with fewer logistical obstacles for their special moment.
My suggestion for those of you that want to propose in Emerald Bay is that you do so, but by boat. You’re going to want to charter a private boat through Tahoe Tastings or Lake Tahoe Boat Rides. We arrange for your proposal photographer (*ahem* ME) to be on the boat as crew. It’s an hour long cruise into Emerald Bay, during which you get a tour of the shores and beaches of Lake Tahoe, learn the history of Fanette Island and Vikingsholm Castle, and then after your history lesson with the beauty of Emerald Bay in the background, I offer to take a photo of you in front of the scenery and it’s time to pop the question. It’s fucking magical and I have the best ideas.
Sand Harbor Beach for iconic east shore boulders
For couples who are looking for those iconic boulders, Sand Harbor Beach provides the easiest and most accessible setting with ample parking and easy logistics. It’s got a bit of everything: a perfect boulder filled cove, golden sands, panoramic views, and a bathroom. But really, these things are important! You should know that Sand Harbor does require a photo permit, which is $50 per session. That being said, it’s a small price to pay for ease and that beauty.
One of the bigger challenges of proposing is to make sure that your significant other is dressed their best. I always recommend that you make a fancy date dinner reservation somewhere nearby so that they have a reason to look their best. You can suggest that you stop over in Sand Harbor to “catch the sunset” before you go have pre-dinner cocktails. If you want to go all out, you could also just plan a surprise picnic on the beach, timed to coincide with a Lake Tahoe sunset. Have you family joining along? Set up a family portrait session and propose in the middle of it!
Lake Forest Beach: a Hidden Gem
Proposing on North Shore? Tucked into the end of a neighborhood is a small hidden gem of a beach with an often quieter atmosphere, ideal for couples seeking a private moment by the water near Tahoe City. In the summer this beach is often filled with giant purple lupines which really levels up it’s beauty.
Not sure how to make it work? I like to use the “kind stranger” approach. No one ever thinks twice about people hanging on beaches – whether it’s summer or winter. You’re there to catch a sunset, after all, right? Ask your significant other to take a selfie and that’s when that kind, nice, observant stranger (*ahem* ME) jumps in to offer to take a photo for you two of you. It gives me the opportunity to position the two of you with the backdrop I desire, I snap away with your phone, hand it back and when you go to put it away you bring out the ring and get down on one knee.
Secret Cove: Secluded Sunsets
As the name suggests, Secret Cove is a hidden treasure on the northeastern shores of Lake Tahoe. It’s tucked in tight and very secluded. This makes Secret Cove the ideal location to be one of Tahoe’s premier nude beaches. But naked bums or not, it’s also a great location for a proposal! Parking is a bit harder to come by for this beach and there is about a 15 minute walk down into the cove, which makes logistics slightly more difficult than some of the other locations. That being said, if you and your partner are the adventurous types that often go on small hikes for sundowners, this is probably the spot for you.
Valhalla Resort: Historic Elegance
Step into the past at Valhalla Resort, a historic estate nestled on the south shore of Lake Tahoe. This is one of my favorite locations for everything from proposals, to family portraits, to engagement sessions. It has a little bit of everything: a giant meadow underneath the looming cross of Mount Tallac, pine forest, winding paths, aspens, a great lawn, the beach and a pier for the perfect lakeside setting. In short – it’s got both rustic charm along with almost everything else you could possibly want.
Other location gems: for the extremely adventurous and hard core, I always recommend Cave Rock. It’s 360 degree views are unparalleled. For those with a fear of heights that still want an overlook, I would consider Logan Shoals Vista Point. For those who are skiers, snowboarders, or epic view enthusiasts, proposing on top of the mountain while skiing at Heavenly Mountain Resort or at the Gondola Mid Station is always an option!
There’s a cove, a beach, or a pier for every type of proposal on Lake Tahoe. From the tranquil shores of Sand Harbor and the secluded charm of Lake Forest Beach to the hidden wonders of Secret Cove and the historic elegance of Valhalla Resort, Lake Tahoe’s proposal spots are as varied as my couples are. If you’re ready to plan your proposal at Lake Tahoe and come up with the best plan for making sure it’s captured perfectly, then reach out today!