Emerald Bay State Park

Update (March 17, 2021): With the Regional Stay at Home Order lifted, State Parks is reopening campground sites for existing reservation holders. The department will be using a phased approach to reopen other campground sites for new reservations, starting January 28. The public is advised that not all campground sites are open to the public due to the pandemic, wildfire impacts and other issues. Additionally, group campsites remain closed. Day use outdoor areas of park units currently open to the public remain open.

As State Parks increases access to the State Park System, it is critical that Californians continue to recreate responsibly in the outdoors as the pandemic is far from over.

Please take the time to read the information contained on this webpage to find out what is open and closed, and the COVID-19 guidelines for this park unit.

What is open now?
  • The park is open from sunrise to sunset.
  • Day-use parking is available to the public. Year-round parking fees at Vikingsholm parking lot. Winter rate is $5 for the day, $2 for one hour.
  • All trail systems are available for active recreation. Trails may be icy.

What is currently closed at this park and throughout the State Park System?
At this park:
  • Visitor center and tours.
  • Campgrounds are closed until June 10, 2021. To make a reservation for summer 2021, call 800-444-7275 or visit www.ReserveCalifornia.com.
  • All restrooms are closed.
Statewide:
  • Some park units and campground sites continue to be temporarily closed due to the pandemic, impacts from wildfires or other issues. Please visit the webpage of your local outdoor destination to find out if it is open.
  • High public-use indoor facilities, including museums and visitor centers.
  • Special events and tours continue to be canceled until further notice.

Are there any new visitor guidelines?
State Parks has implemented the following guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors:
  • Stay Local: Stay close to home during this pandemic period. If you or anyone in your household is feeling sick, please remain at home and plan your trip for another time. 
  • Plan Ahead
    • The ongoing pandemic response continues to be dynamic and fluid. Prior to leaving home, check the webpage of your outdoor destination you plan to visit to find out if it is open, if parking is available, and what visitor guidelines are in effect.
    • Learn what safety precautions you should take when exploring the outdoors at parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.
    • SNO-PARKS: Make sure your vehicle is snow ready. A permit is required for each vehicle parked at a SNO-PARK site. Parking is on a first come, first-serve basis at all SNO-PARK sites. The public is advised that parking lots are filling up early in the day. Illegal parking is prohibited. More information can be found at ohv.parks.ca.gov/SNOPARKS.
  • Stay Safer at Six Feet: No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Your guests should only include those within your immediate household. This means no guests or friends, and no gatherings or parties. If there are too many people to maintain the required physical distance, please visit us on a different day. 
    • Boating: Do not raft up to other boaters or pull up onto a beach next to other recreators.
    • Off-highway Vehicle Recreation: Do not ride next to others or pull up next to someone else as it could put you in close proximity to others. Stage 10 feet or more from each other during unloading and loading.
  • Keep Clean: Be prepared as not all services may be available. Some restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Bring soap/hand sanitizer. Please pack out all trash. Park units are experiencing heavy use and you can help alleviate the impact on park facilities.
  • Stay Covered: The state requires you to wear a face covering when you cannot maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Individuals must have a face covering with them at all times.

Although law enforcement entities have the authority to issue citations, the expectation is that the public is responsible for adhering to the advice of public health officials, visitor guidelines and closures.

California State Parks continues to work with local and state officials on a phased and regionally driven approach to increase access to state park units where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved. However, the situation remains fluid and park operations can change at any time. For information on statewide current closures and available services, please visit parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve.

Phone Number

No phone number listed.

Max. Trailer Lengths

Trailer: 15 Feet
Camper/Motorhome: 18 Feet

Park Hours

The park is open from sunrise to sunset. Please call the park for the current visitor center hours.

Dogs Allowed?

No
Dogs are not allowed in most areas of Emerald Bay State Park. Please refer to the Emerald Bay SP dog information section for more specific areas and descriptions.

Driving Directions to Emerald Bay SP

The park is located 22 miles south of Tahoe City.
Vikingsholm can be reached by parking in the Harvey West parking lot by Highway 89 at Emerald Bay. Take the trail, which is one mile in length and drops 500 feet in elevation to the house.
Fannette Island is located in the bay on the west shore of Lake Tahoe.
The Boat Camp is on the north side of Emerald Bay, about 1/2 mile east of Fannette Island located in the bay on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, at the site of the old Emerald Bay Resort.

Camping and Lodging

Visitors will be able to reserve campsites and lodging six months in advance from the current date. Bookings may extend from the arrival date to the desired departure date – based on availability and the park’s maximum stay rules.

Upcoming Park Events

No events scheduled at this moment.

BOATING
Boating
Boat Rentals
OVERNIGHT FACILITIES
Family Campsites
Boat-in/Floating Camps
RV Access
TRAIL USE
Hiking Trails
DAY-USE ACTIVITIES & FACILITIES
Historical/Cultural Site
Picnic Areas
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Fishing
Guided Tours
Interpretive Exhibits
Scuba Diving/Snorkeling
Beach Area
Swimming
Nature & Wildlife Viewing
Museums
Geocaching
OTHER FACILITIES & VISITOR INFORMATION
Restrooms / Showers
Restrooms
Outdoor Showers
Drinking Water Available

EMERALD BAY CAMPGROUNDS have closed for the season.
Please help keep our lake and beaches clean and our forests protected.
Our parks are highly impacted at this time - please lend a hand and help make your parks cleaner than you found them. Thank you. 11/13/2020

Information

Emerald Bay State Park is located 12 miles north of South Lake Tahoe. Vehicles cannot drive down to the lake, however, there are many vistas and hiking trails.

Vikingsholm can be reached by parking in the Vikingshom parking lot by Highway 89 at Emerald Bay.  Access to lower Vikingsholm is via a steep one mile pedestrian trail that drops 400 feet in elevation to the house.  Restrooms and water fountain available near the mansion during the summer.
WARNING:  Visitors with medical conditions or mobility issues should not attempt this hike.  THERE ARE NO RIDES OUT. 

Dogs are not allowed on any trails or roads into Emerald Bay, nor on the beach. 
Dogs are only allowed in the campground and must be on a 6' leash. 
Dog regulations are enforced year-round.

Fannette Island is located within Emerald Bay on the west shore of Lake Tahoe. The island is only accessible by watercraft.

Vikingsholm Parking Lot

Fees for parking are $5 per vehicle for the day, or $2 per vehicle for 1 hour.  Maximum vehicle length is 18 feet. The parking lot is open from sunrise-sunset.
Fees are required by self-payment.  The pay machine accepts cash (exact change) or credit card. Fees for parking are good for any California State Park during the date of purchase. 
The Emerald Bay area has limited parking and visitors are encouraged to arrive early to obtain parking. Be sure to lock your vehicle and do not leave valuables.
Overnight parking is not allowed, even with a valid USFS backcountry permit, or a Boat Camp reservation. Access to the parking lot may be reduced/ unavailable in winter conditions.
Parking regulations in Emerald Bay are strictly enforced. 

Drones

In the interest of public safety and the preservation of resources, all State Park Units in the Sierra District are closed to unmanned aircraft, also known as “drones,” “quad-copters” and similar, over the state lands under the operational control of California State Parks.

Maritime Heritage Underwater Trail

California State Parks and the Sierra State Parks Foundation Debut California’s First Maritime Heritage Underwater Trail at Emerald Bay

Divers documenting launch imageStarting October 1, 2018, the public is officially able to experience California’s first maritime heritage underwater trail devoted to showcasing Lake Tahoe’s historic recreational watercraft and barges, that now rest below the surface of Emerald Bay.

Scuba and snorkel diving visitors will be able to explore an underwater “trail” of historic features at several sites along the shoreline of Emerald Bay State Park, Lake Tahoe. Currently, divers have access to the Historic Barge Dive Site established by California State Parks in 1998. The department has never publicly released the location and information about three additional sites highlighted in this underwater trail until now.  

Learn more about the Emerald Bay Maritime Heritage Trail.

CAMPING - Eagle Point Campground and Emerald Bay Boat Camp

The Eagle Point Campground has closed for the 2020 Season. Reservations can be made for the 2021 Season six months in advance of the date of your arrival. Reservations are available for June 10 - Labor Day 2021. 1-800-444-7275.

Quiet Hours            10pm - 6am                              Check In     - 2 pm  
Generator Hours   10am - 8pm                              Check Out   - Noon      
1-2 Vehicles per campsite (site specific)               Children must have helmets for bicycles/scooters/skateboards
4-8 people per campsite (site specific)                 Dogs must be leashed and never unattended
Vehicles must be parked on pavement                Amplified music is only allowed with a permit
Food must be stored DAY and NIGHT                  All CA vehicle regulations apply - no passengers in truckbed

Food Storage Locker Information - Important and required.

All food, beverages, and toiletries are required by law to be stored in provided food lockers during DAY and NIGHT, except when food is being prepared or eaten. Black bears are currently very active in Emerald Bay! Metal bear-resistant food lockers are provided in each campsite.  Ice chests may NOT be stored in vehicles and shall be stored in the bear locker.  The inside dimensions of the food lockers 36" deep, 43" wide, and 22" high.  Violations will be cited.
Food, beverages, ice chests, and trash must be stored in food lockers during NIGHT and DAY hours.

The Emerald Bay Boat Camp  is closed for the 2020 season.  Reservations  for summer 2021 season can be made six months in advance of the date of your arrival - Reservations are available from June 3 - Labor Day 2021. 1-800-444-7275 

The campground is located on the north side of Emerald Bay, at the site of the old Emerald Bay Resort. Buoys are available, and camping takes place on land in the lakefront campsites. There is no designated boat launch area in Emerald Bay or at D.L. Bliss State Park.  Boat campers with reservations may launch non-motorized vessels at D.L. Bliss and may park their vehicle overnight in the Balancing Rock overflow parking lot with a valid camping receipt displayed. Vehicles may NOT park overnight at the Emerald Bay Vikingsholm Parking lot OR at the D.L. Bliss State Park beach lot (Calawee Cove/ Lester Beach).  It is approximatley 3/4 of a mile from the overflow lot to beach access. All regulations at Eagle Point Campground apply at Emerald Bay Boat Camp (except for vehicles). Dogs are only allowed in the campground area. Campsites are $35 a night. Firewood is $10 a bundle and ice is $5 - cash only. If late arrival call Eagle Point Campground.

Attention: Bear-Proof Cooler Owners  Bear-Proof Cooler imageBEAR-PROOF COOLERS (Yeti, Pelican, Yukon etc.) MUST be secured with locks per manufacturer instructions in order to meet Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) standards. Failure to do so may result in a Food Storage Citation and up to a $1000 Fine Title XIV CCR 4323(b).  It is recommended that a cable lock is also used to attach the bear cooler to a non moveable item. Bears are known to take off with and/or toss coolers around to try to open them.  

 

Additional Visitor Services - Kayak Tahoe (Guided kayak tours and rentals)

Seasons/Climate

Summer temperatures range from about 75 degrees during the day to the low 40s at night, and winter temperatures average from a high of 40 to a low of 20 degrees; during extremely cold winters Emerald Bay freezes over.
High Sierra weather is varied and can change abruptly. It is recommended to bring layered clothing and check weather updates. Weather forecast is available at NOAA.
Chains and/ or 4 wheel drive are frequently required during the winter season.  For up to date road conditions, call the Caltrans road hotline at 1800-427-ROAD, or visit the Caltrans website.  
Emerald Bay State Park is located off of Highway 89.

Information and History

In 1969, Emerald Bay was designated a National Natural Landmark for its brilliant panorama of mountain-building processes and glacier carved granite. The natural beauty, geology and history of this unique island make it one of the highlights of any visit to the Lake Tahoe area.

Emerald Bay State Park includes 2 campgrounds: Boat-In Camp (accessible by boat or foot only) and Eagle Point Campground.  The scenic Rubicon foot trail wraps around Emerald Bay, with trailheads at Eagle Point campground, Vikingsholm, and DL Bliss State Park. The park features Vikingsholm, one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the western hemisphere and the "Tea House" on Fannette Island, the only island to be found in all of Lake Tahoe.

There is no vehicle access to the lakeshore of Emerald Bay or Vikingsholm. Visitors walk to the lake from the Vikingsholm Parking Lot (1 mile walk) or via the Rubicon Trail. Some visitors arrive by kayak or private boat.

Emerald Bay was designated an underwater state park in 1994. It is the resting place for many boats, launches and barges used in the lake before the turn of the century, during the heyday of Emerald Bay Resort and used in the construction of Vikingsholm.

Visitors to Emerald Bay State Park enjoy hiking, swimming, kayaking, scuba diving, boating, sightseeing and touring Vikingsholm in the summer months.

Visitors are welcome to hike down to Vikingsholm any time of year, but please be aware: In the winter, snow and ice can lead to hazardous conditions. Before deciding to hike in the snow, consider if you have appropriate footwear, clothing, food and water supply, and stamina level. Cell phones may not have reception. There are no services or drinking water from Oct - May. Restrooms are available year-round at the bottom. Round-trip to Vikingsholm and back is 2 miles with 400 feet elevation gain.
Emerald Bay Information Video 

Emerald Bay Information Video

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikingsholm Accessibile Information

For people who have a valid ADA placard, special arrangements are necessary to reach the Vikingsholm area which is located down a very steep gravel road that is not open to private vehicles. Call (530) 525-3384 to check on the availability of shuttle service to escort people with mobility disabilities to Vikingsholm area. Reservations for this service must be made at least 24 hours in advance. This service is offered during Vikingsholm tour season: Memorial Day weekend - September.

Boating Emerald Bay

Keep it slow through Emerald Bay. Within 600 feet of shore it is 5 mph around all of Lake Tahoe. There are many logs, kayaks, paddle boarders, and swimmers in the water.
Music and radios shall not be at a volume which is, or is likely to be, disturbing to others - CCR 4320(b)
Do not drive boats through buoy field - buoys are for registered campers only.
Visiting Fannette Island - Pack it in/ Pack it out - Please help keep the island clean.
Restrooms are available behind the Vikingsholm Residence - 50 yards straight in from the pier.
Please do your part to protect Lake Tahoe  - boating inspections and launching facilities
Boating safety and information specific to Lake Tahoe
New Boating information on Tahoe for 2019 - TRPA

 

Emerald Bay State Park(Photograph by Mike Fuller)
Emerald Bay State Park
Emerald Bay State Park is the California State Park system’s premier glacial park – owing its spectacular scenery and dramatic alpine peaks, ridges, and crystalline lake to the scouring action of glaciers that existed at various times during the Pleistocene Epoch (11,500 to 1,800,000 years ago). Glaciers as thick as several hundred feet buried all but the highest peaks of the Sierra and tongues of ice pushed down from the Sierren crest and gouged out stream canyons, scraped off soil and weathered rock, deposited moraines and carved out lake basins.


The full Geo Gems report
  |  Geological Gems of State Parks

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