We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Spectacular setting... interesting story of a man who preserved the East side of Lake Tahoe.”
Review of Thunderbird Lodge

Thunderbird Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
New York City, New York
Level 6 Contributor
313 reviews
88 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 92 helpful votes
“Spectacular setting... interesting story of a man who preserved the East side of Lake Tahoe.”
Reviewed June 13, 2013

George Wittel, a wealth San Francisco heir (value $49 billion in today's dollars) bought up 45,000 acres and 27 miles of shore line on east side of Lake Tahoe. Kept if from honky tonk for a long time. This tour of his "camp" on a fabulous bay on the lake preserves the time -- and tells the story of the Lake. His wooden boat is worth the trip alone. They preservation society was offered $10 million for it). It was later owned by Bill Harrah of hotel fame.

Lovely two hour tour that you start at the visitors center with a bus to the location. Excellent information and very knowledgeable and pleasant tour docents. Highly recommend for all but children and people who cannot climb stairs.

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank Gloria G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

89 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    68
    19
    1
    0
    1
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Level 6 Contributor
303 reviews
165 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 142 helpful votes
“The Thunderbird; History and Opulence”
Reviewed May 31, 2013

Walking the grounds and viewing the splendor of the Thunderbird Lodge and compound was a delight! It was built in the late 30's and early 40's as a summer home for George Whittell, Jr; a man who inherited all his wealth and promised the world, he would never to work a day in his life! The property is on five or six acres of shore front land on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. Whittell also owned almost 40,000 acres of the Nevada shore of Lake Tahoe, and planned to develop it, but decided that he "liked not having neighbors." Regardless of the reason, it's wonderful that the land was never developed, because in the hands of the Forestry Department, it will likely remain as is.

This estate is more about the history of the west than you might think. And yet the buildings are beautifully maintained and restored to their original opulence! The style of architecture is hard to define. But it is clear that he wanted the buildings to blend in well with the surroundings; hence, they are made of stone and the roof lines point upwards like pine trees reaching for the sky. The stone hideaway features a six-hundred-foot tunnel connecting the mansion with the boathouse where Whittell berthed his fifty-five-foot mahogany yacht, Thunderbird.

Apparently, George was a playboy long before anyone ever coined the term and his lifestyle proved it. In the end he became a very suspicious recluse. And you get a chance to witness it all on this tour. I would probably have rated this attraction a "Five", but the entrance fee seemed a bit pricey!

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank William L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
sacramento, california
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“The Tahoe”
Reviewed September 20, 2012

This was the most amazing, interesting, relaxing and worthwhile cruise we have ever experienced on Lake Tahoe. The day was perfect, our captain was clever, knowledgeable and professional during the entire trip. I would recommend this to everyone that is interested in the history of Lake Tahoe and this cruise is the absolute BEST way to visit the amazing Thunderbird Lodge. We will definitely repeat this trip again.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
4 Thank temxray
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Yorba Linda, California
Level 6 Contributor
241 reviews
76 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
“Tour of Thunderbird for older teens and adults”
Reviewed August 30, 2012

This is a great fun tour of one of the historical estates in Tahoe. The tour not only takes you through the home but also the tunnels, the woodie Thunderbird boat, the separate gambling building. You can also rent out for weddings but very, very pricey. The tour is really worth your time--not something that you would do more than once though. You cannot drive there but are shuttled there.

Visited August 2012
Helpful?
4 Thank CandyfromCalifornia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
174 reviews
66 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 85 helpful votes
“History and beauty at once”
Reviewed August 26, 2012 via mobile

Both my husband and I enjoyed this walking tour of the house and grounds. Luckily our guide had quite an unusual history with this place having visited the original owners as a child. Quite elderly now so the value of first person stories gave a nice quality to this stop. Rabies of course is lovely and the views from here are breathtaking.

Helpful?
4 Thank 2hotrides
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Thunderbird Lodge also viewed

Incline Village, Lake Tahoe (Nevada)
Incline Village, Lake Tahoe (Nevada)
 
Lake Tahoe (Nevada), NV
Lake Tahoe (Nevada), NV
 

Been to Thunderbird Lodge? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing