Yosemite Lakes – The Sierra’s Best Natural Pools

Rainfall, melting snow, and mountain springs work together to create stunning natural pools, spread across an epic glacial valley. Although Yosemite Lakes are beautiful throughout the year, summer is the best time to cool off and really enjoy them.

Photos of Yosemite Lakes

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake in May - Yosemite Lakes
Calm waters of Mirror Lake

While Mirror Lake may not be the most beautiful body of water the park has to offer, it’s a great reward after a brief hike to get there. The trail is open year round, and even though the road is closed to cars, disabled visitors may drive their cars up the road to the lake.

Lukens Lake

Lukens Lake Grassy Shore + Forest Trees
Lukens Lake Grassy Shore + Forest Trees

This lesser traveled lake can be found along Tioga Road, although it also requires a short hike to get to. Lukens Lake is more green and grassy than some of it’s granite rimmed cousins further up the road. Speaking of which…

May Lake

May Lake - blue water surrounded by Granite Mountains
May Lake – blue water surrounded by Granite Mountains

Truly a gem, May Lake is a beautiful alpine pool nestled in the granite high country of Tioga Road. It’s a bit of hike (and climb) to get here, but well worth the effort. There is also a summer camp up here.

Tenaya Lake

Tenaya Lake view from above Olmsted Point - Yosemite Lakes
View of Tenaya Lake through the Pine Trees

Without a doubt, Tenaya Lake is the most beautiful and accessible of all Yosemite Lakes. Located directly on Tioga Road in the high country, it is closed seasonally. Particularly nice views of Tenaya Lake can be found by climbing up above Olmsted Point.

Gaylor Lakes

Gaylor Lakes and Gaylor Peak
Galor Lakes + Gaylor Peak

This lesser known set of alpine lakes can be seen after a moderately short (but steep) hike. The Gaylor Lakes trailhead is near the Tioga park entrance on 120. As you can see, it’s quite brown and dry by August, about the time this photo was taken. Still though, this hike provides breathtaking views of Gaylor and Dana peaks.

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About My Photos

The images on this website are available for licensing and/or sale as framed prints. If you’d like to purchase them for a blog, news article, or gift, feel free to contact me with the specifics. This way you’re supporting photographers such as me directly (as opposed to buying from a faceless stock photo corporation).

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– Nathan Allen

About Me

Photographer Nathan Allen

I’m Nathan Allen, photographer / creator of YosemiteParkPhotos.com (Yosemite Photos) and international travel site I Dreamed Of This. In truth, I lived in San Francisco, New York, & Singapore…but nothing compares to life in the mountains. I share my experiences HERE.