4 Nov 2023
by Tim Hauserman
Whether it is the blazing pinks of alpenglow, or the vibrant oranges and reds created by wispy
clouds, Lake Tahoe provides some amazing sunsets. I’ve spent many an evening along the
shore of the lake waiting to see what will happen, however, and sometimes it is all gray. Often
though the key to success is to wait. Almost always the best part of sunsets take a lot longer to
arrive then we think they should. In fact, Tahoe sunset watching provides a powerful lesson in
Sunsets in the mountains are a bit like that line from Forrest Gump about a box of chocolates,
“You never know what you’re gonna get.” We get a lot of cloudless evenings at Tahoe, and
those are not good for sunsets and then of course if it is too cloudy, the sunset will also be a
washout. What makes a good sunset is that in-between zone. A mix of clear sky and light
clouds that the colors can attach to. But even if you have a good set up, you just have to wait
and see what happens.
The photos included with this post describe a typical evening where good things came to me
because I waited. I settled down at the edge of my favorite local west shore beach and let the
minutes tick by as I waited for the show to begin. The cloud pattern had potential, and the lake
was a mixture of glass close to shore, with a light ripple a few hundred yards off shore.
A few other folks were at the end of the pier waiting as well. It seemed like a pretty long wait
with no action and we were thinking of giving up. The sun was down, and the clouds stayed a
somber gray. One of my fellow waiters said, “Well, looks like this one will be a bust,” but I still
saw potential and said, “Patience grasshopper.” Ten minutes went by and finally a faint subtle
pink shimmered on the water. Another five minutes and clouds slowly showed a tinge of color
Every minute it got better and finally our “going to be a bust” attitude changed to “Whoa, this is
So pick a night with a enough high clouds to make it interesting and bundle yourself up well.
Then calm down and watch the very slow transition. When you think it is time to go…wait, just a
bit longer. You may be rewarded and if not, you have spent an evening along Tahoe’s shore,
and that is a reward of its own.