Information about Lake Tenaya

Location: Yosemite National Park
GPS Coordinates: 37.8308, -119.4583
Original Photograph Negative
: 1946
Artist: Ansel Adams


About the Image

Ansel Adams made this image around 1940. He took the photo around the corner from Olmstead Point on the Tioga Road . Later, Adams joined Sierra Club President David Brower and others in a long campaign to oppose rerouting the Tioga Road near Tenaya Lake . Despite protests, the Park Service built the new road — it would be visible in this photograph if taken today — inspiring Adams to pen the elegy “Tenaya Tragedy!!!” published in 1958. When driving east on the Tioga Road, this vista provides a breathtaking first glimpse of Tenaya Lake framed by the soaring peaks of Mt. Hoffman, Medlicott Dome, Tenaya Peak, Tuolomne Peak, and Mt. Conness in the background. Stumps dot the surface of Tenaya Lake , some of them quite a distance from the shoreline. Close examination reveals that these stumps are actually mature trees rooted the lake floor 50 feet below. At some point in recent history, the lakebed was dry long enough to allow trees to take root and grow for approximately 80 years. Given that the lake is a natural lake, the drought that allowed this must have been severe. ” Lake Tenaya ” was included in the 2001-2003 traveling museum exhibition Ansel Adams at 100 and companion book. It also appears in Yosemite, Our National Parks, Yosemite and the Range of Light (out of print and Yosemite and the High Sierra.