Emerald Bay is a Tahoe Area Gem

pproximately 20 miles south of Tahoe City, Emerald Bay is one of the most breathtaking state parks in the area. Designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1969, this beautiful park offers something for everyone.

The only island in Lake Tahoe, Fannette Island, is located here and features “The Tea House”, which was built in the late 1920’s by the owner of Vikingsholm, an estate built in Scandanavian design and open for tours from Mid-June through Labor Day for a nominal charge. The island is open for use between 6 am and 9 pm, but camping and picnicing are prohibited. In additon, the island is closed from February 1 through June 15 since it is a nesting site for Canadian geese.

Eagle Falls is a series of waterfalls that empty into Emerald Bay. Only one is located in the park proper, with the other two on U. S. Forestry land. It is possible to hike to the bottom of the lower falls, or view the upper falls from a footbridge across Eagle Creek.

Scuba diving is permitted in Emerald Bay, (it was designated an Underwater Park in 1994) and there are many interesting artifacts to be found below the waves. Most of these are watercraft dating from the late 19th century to the early 20th century, but there are plenty of unusual items to be observed as well. Artifacts must be left in situ.

You can boat into Emerald Bay State Park via canoe or poewr boat. The boat campground is located on the northwest shore and has 20 sites. The $20 fee covers camping and mooring for a motor boat, and sites can be reserved by calling 1-800-444-7275. A new pier is scheduled to open in 2010, and there will be some closings of the site until this is completed, so it is advisable to call ahead of time to determine when the boat camp will be open.

No dogs are allowed in any area of the park, and campers are required to keep all food, beverages, and toiletry items in a park-provided locker. These lockers are bear-proof, and failure to store items properly may result in a ticket being issued.

The parking lot for Emerald Bay State Park is located 22 miles south of Tahoe City on Highway 89, and hiking trails run to Vikingsholm and from there to the campgrounds. You can also hike in from D. L. Bliss State Park along the Rubicon Trail, a distance of about five miles, or boat in from any of the marinas located on the lake.

Visitors should pack warm clothing, since even in the summer the temperature rarely exceeds 75 degrees during the day and may drop to 40 degrees at night. During the winter, it can get as cold as 20 degrees, and Emerald Bay has been known to freeze over.

Day use fees for the 2009 season were $35 per car, which included one boat. It is one of the many parks covered by the pass program; standard vehicle pass pricing is currently $125 per year and there are many discounts available for qualified individuals.

To contact Emerald Bay State Park, call (530)541-3030; information is also available from D. L. Bliss State Park next door at (530)525-7277. Vikingsholm Visitor’s Center can be reached at (530)541-6498.