Discover Emerald Bay State Park, California

Nestled along the southwestern shore of Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay State Park is a gem of natural beauty and outdoor adventure in California. Renowned for its stunning vistas, crystal-clear waters, and verdant landscapes, this park offers an idyllic escape for nature enthusiasts, hikers, and anyone seeking a tranquil retreat. Emerald Bay itself, a National Natural Landmark, is the park’s crown jewel, featuring the iconic Fannette Island, the only island in Lake Tahoe.

Emerald Bay State Park visitors can explore various outdoor activities, from hiking along scenic trails to kayaking on the pristine waters. The park is home to the historic Vikingsholm, a 38-room mansion built in 1929, which stands as one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the United States. For those keen on underwater exploration, the park also boasts an underwater preserve where divers can discover sunken treasures and the remnants of old barges.

With its diverse flora and fauna, Emerald Bay State Park provides ample wildlife viewing and photography opportunities. The park’s rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and recreational offerings make it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the Lake Tahoe region.


Top 3 Facts about Emerald Bay State Park


Vikingsholm Castle

One of the park’s main attractions is Vikingsholm, a historic 38-room mansion built in 1929. Designed to resemble a Scandinavian castle, it is considered one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the United States. Visitors can take guided tours to learn about its unique construction and the area’s history.


National Natural Landmark

Emerald Bay was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1969. This designation recognizes the bay’s exceptional scenic beauty and geological significance, making it a protected area to preserve its natural wonders for future generations.


Underwater Park

Emerald Bay State Park includes an underwater preserve protecting the submerged remains of two historic barges and other artifacts. This makes it a popular spot for scuba diving and snorkeling, offering a unique underwater experience.

Where to Sleep

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Mason Street Getaway

555 Mason St, Saugatuck, MI 49453, USA
Number of Guests 5
Bathrooms 2
Bedrooms 2
Sq Footage 1,165
Carbon monoxide detectors, Fire extinguisher, First aid kit, Generator, Smoke detectors
$475.00 / day
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JP Rest House

V262+C5P, Manikganj, Bangladesh
Number of Guests 4
Bathrooms 2
Bedrooms 4
Sq Footage 2,400
Carbon monoxide detectors, Fire extinguisher, First aid kit, Generator, Smoke detectors
$300.00 / day
sparkles New

Juniper Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$198.00 / day

Hemlock Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$194.14 / day

Greenash Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$182.42 / day

Dogwood Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$182.42 / day

Camping and transportation in Emerald Bay State Park

info_iconBackcountry camping permits required for wilderness camping opportunities.

How to Get to Emerald Bay State Park

By Car: Your adventure to Emerald Bay State Park begins on scenic Highway 89. It’s just a short drive from South Lake Tahoe. If driving isn’t your thing, or you want to kick back and enjoy the scenery, let’s talk public transportation.

Public Transportation: Local bus services will bring you close to the park. From there, you could grab a taxi to the park entrance. Just check the latest schedules to coordinate with your plans!

By Air: Touching down near Lake Tahoe is a breeze. The nearest airport is in Reno, Nevada. Rent a car or catch a shuttle from there, and in about an hour, you’ll be breathing in that fresh mountain air.

Places to Stay Near Emerald Bay State Park

Inside the Park

Eagle Point Campground might be your ticket to an overnight outdoor adventure. Think waking up to the sound of chirping birds and the fresh pine scent in the air. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Location: Set on the point, it’s part of the park. You can’t get closer to nature than this!
  • Facilities: Expect basic amenities, perfect for feeling part of the wilderness.

Nearby Accommodations

Are you looking to nest in a bit more comfort while still staying close to the park?

  • South Lake Tahoe: Just under four miles from the beauty of Emerald Bay, it’s home to a healthy mix of hotels.
  • Tahoe City: A bit farther but still within reach, it offers a different vibe and scenic drives back to the park.
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Best Time to Go to Emerald Bay State Park



Summer is peak season at Emerald Bay State Park. The weather is warm and sunny, ideal for swimming, boating, and exploring the bay. This season is perfect for activities like kayaking to Fannette Island or relaxing on the sandy beaches along the shoreline. Visitors can also tour Vikingsholm and hike the Rubicon Trail, taking advantage of the longer daylight hours. However, summer can be crowded, so early mornings or weekdays are recommended for a quieter experience.



Winter transforms Emerald Bay State Park into a peaceful winter wonderland. While the park may not receive heavy snowfall due to its lower elevation, nearby areas often have ample snow for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. The park’s trails, such as those around Eagle Falls, offer serene winter hiking opportunities with views of snow-covered landscapes. The quieter winter months allow one to experience the park’s beauty in a different light, away from summer crowds.



Spring is a delightful time to visit Emerald Bay State Park. During this season, the park comes alive with blooming wildflowers and lush greenery. The weather is generally mild, making it perfect for hiking the park’s trails to viewpoints like Eagle Falls and Vikingsholm. Waterfalls are at their peak flow, offering spectacular views and fantastic photo opportunities. Spring also sees fewer crowds compared to the busy summer months, allowing visitors to enjoy a more tranquil experience amidst the natural beauty of Lake Tahoe.

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Must-See Attractions

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A highlight of Emerald Bay, Vikingsholm is a Scandinavian-style mansion nestled on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Built in the 1920s, it features intricate architecture and beautiful gardens. Guided tours of Vikingsholm are available during the summer months, providing insights into its history and the life of its original owner, Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight.

Fannette Island

Lake Tahoe’s only island, Fannette Island, is in Emerald Bay. The island features the ruins of a stone tea house built by Mrs Knight, offering a picturesque setting for kayaking and exploring. Visitors can paddle to the island to see the remnants and enjoy stunning views of Emerald Bay and the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains.

Eagle Falls

Located on the western side of Emerald Bay, Eagle Falls is a majestic two-tiered waterfall that cascades down into the bay. A short hike from the parking area off Highway 89 leads to viewpoints where visitors can admire the falls and view Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe panoramic views.

Helpful Tips: Making the Most of Your Adventure to Emerald Bay State Park

Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead

Check the park’s website for updates on closures, trail conditions, and special events. This will help you plan your visit accordingly and ensure a smooth experience.

Pack Appropriately

Pack Appropriately

Bring plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and appropriate clothing. Weather conditions can vary, so it’s wise to be prepared for changing temperatures and sun exposure.

Respect Wildlife

Respect Wildlife

Emerald Bay State Park is home to diverse wildlife, including black bears and various bird species. Keep a respectful distance and avoid feeding or approaching wildlife for your safety and theirs.

Stay Informed

Arrive Early

Parking can fill up quickly, especially during peak seasons and weekends. Arriving early in the day will increase your chances of finding a parking spot at popular trailheads and viewpoints.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Emerald Bay State Park

Emerald Bay State Park is open year-round, typically from sunrise to sunset. Some facilities and amenities may have seasonal variations, so it’s advisable to check ahead of your visit.

Pets are allowed in designated park areas, such as campgrounds and paved roads. However, they must be kept on a leash no longer than six feet. Pets are not allowed on beaches or trails, including the trails to Vikingsholm and Eagle Falls.

Swimming and boating are popular activities in Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe. Visitors can swim in designated areas along the shoreline, and boating is allowed on the lake. Kayaking and paddleboarding are popular ways to explore the bay and Fannette Island.

Camping is available at the boat-in campground within Emerald Bay. This unique campground is accessible only by boat and offers a serene overnight experience surrounded by the park’s natural beauty. Reservations are required and can be made through the California State Parks website.

Popular hiking trails include the trail to Vikingsholm and the Eagle Falls trail. The Rubicon Trail is another scenic option that follows the shoreline of Lake Tahoe, passing through the park and offering stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Yes, there are picnic areas available within the park. Some picnic areas offer tables, restrooms, and scenic views of the lake. Visitors can enjoy picnicking at designated spots while taking in the natural beauty of Emerald Bay.

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