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My Favorite in Tahoe: Thunderbird Lodge

One of my favorite spots in Lake Tahoe is the Thunderbird Lodge, which was completed in 1938.

Ever wonder why the East Shore of the Lake has little development?  About four years ago, I took a tour of the Thunderbird Lodge and learned so much about the history of the Lodge itself, as well as George Whittell Jr.’s part in preserving the East Shores of Lake Tahoe.  Over time, Whittell purchased about 40,000 acres of land on the East Shore, and later decided that he “liked not having neighbors”, therefore, he never developed the land as he originally had planned (Zephyr Cove and Sand Harbor would have been developed with Casinos).  Also, he did not have guest rooms at Thunderbird Lodge as he did not like overnight visitors.

In addition to his private nature, George was known for his eccentricity. For instance, on the property there is an “Elephant House” in which Mingo, his two-ton Indian elephant, would live in during the summer.  You would also find Bill, his pet lion, traveling with him wherever he went (see photo below).

These tidbits just scratch the surface of the stories and history belonging to the Thunderbird Lodge. Whether you are a local or just visiting, this is a must do…you won’t be disappointed.

To find out more about tours by land or water go to