Balancing Rock

balancing rock at Lake Tahoe
Balancing Rock as seen at Lake Tahoe, CA.

Up in the northwest corner of D.L. Bliss State Park on the California side of Lake Tahoe, you’ll find a trail you can take to the famed Balancing Rock. The trail is super easy. It’s only a half-mile long and kid-friendly; it’s even jogger friendly. Hike down the trail and you’ll be rewarded by a sight that has amazed visitors since the 1800s.

Yeah, the name gives away what it is, doesn’t it? It’s a humongous—we’re talking 130 tons—piece of granite, balancing precariously atop another, smaller rock “pedestal.” It’s a great place to pose for photos, as you pretend to “hold the thing up.” (Not too original, but still fun!)

One of the most popular theories about the Balancing Rock is that it was formed during the last ice age, when glaciers moved across the landscape and carved out the surrounding granite terrain. As the glaciers receded, they left behind large boulders that had been smoothed and polished by the movement of ice and water. Over time, some of these boulders may have become wedged into crevices or other irregularities in the granite, resulting in the balancing effect that is seen today.

Despite its impressive appearance, the Balancing Rock is actually quite fragile and is at risk of toppling over at any moment. In fact, visitors are warned not to climb or even touch the rock, as the slightest disturbance could upset its delicate balance and cause it to fall.

If you’re planning a visit to Lake Tahoe, be sure to add Balancing Rock to your itinerary. The rock is located just off Highway 28, and there is a small parking area nearby. From there, it’s just a short hike to the rock itself, where you can marvel at its impressive balance and snap a few photos. Just be sure to stay a safe distance away and respect the fragility of this unique natural wonder.

One last point: Balancing Rock is not going to be there forever. You can see it has a “waist” between its top and bottom, and natural erosion is slowly but surely putting that waist on a diet. Some day, it will all end. The Balancing Rock will lose its balance, and tumble to the depths below. But you’ll have that cool photo showing that you “held the thing up” when it needed you most!