The Thunderbird Lodge
Lake Tahoe has over 2 million years of history. One of the most fascinating and intriguing stories lies within the walls of the Thunderbird Lodge. In 1939, the Thunderbird Lodge was completed on the shores of Lake Tahoe along with a yacht to get to and from the Lodge for George Whittell, Jr., one of the wealthiest men in California at the time. This estate was part of 20 miles of shoreline, now comprised of several buildings on a six acre parcel on the east shore of the lake. The history of the property is rich with tales about the 600 foot long secret tunnel, exotic animals, a card house built especially for poker games with friends like Howard Hughes and an aviary that was home to over 40 birds. This architecture blends many elements with stone masonry, ironwork and woodwork. Couple the architecture and boat-in location with the flamboyant lifestyle of George Whittell, Jr., this piece of Lake Tahoe has endless stories to tell.
This property is now part of the Thunderbird Lodge National Historic Site and open for tours. Legend springs to life as you discover the lighthouse room, old lodge, servant’s quarters with original kitchen, as well as the underground tunnel leading to the cavernous boathouse. In the boathouse see the legendary wooden speedboat, Thunderbird, card house, gardens, waterfalls and fountains.
There are many ways to experience this bit of Lake Tahoe history. Make it a special night and join in the winemakers dinner hosted at the Thunderbird Lodge. Gourmet dinners are paired with California winemakers as a fundraiser for the property. As the sun sets, the views are unparalleled.
Other tour options include viewings by land, boat or kayak. By boat, try the continental breakfast and picnic lunch. This four hour tour will cruise the shores from Zepher Cove to the site location. A day on the Lake is heavenly. By land, try the Friday afternoon wine and cheese tour. This tour offers more time to explore the gardens and waterfalls while enjoying good wine and snacks. This year, the waterfalls are sure to be impressive. By Kayak, the adventure begins at Sand Harbor and includes a luncheon along the way, a truly unique experience.
This is the summer to discover the mystery and the legacy of the Thunderbird Lodge.
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