As one of the most photographed spots in the country, Emerald Bay is truly an amazing site to see when visiting Lake Tahoe. Named for its greenish-colored waters, it is located on the southwest shore of the lake and it is accessible by Highway 89 — beyond Historic Camp Richardson. Emerald Bay is a state park and is about 1.7 miles long and about two-thirds of a mile wide at its widest part. Located in the middle of the bay is Fannette Island, Lake Tahoe’s only island with the old “tea house” perched on top. Fannette Island is accessible by boat and you are allowed to park at the island and hike up to the tea house. Also in Emerald Bay are Eagle Falls and Vikingsholm, a 38-room mansion that is one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the United States (accessible by both boat and a mile hike down from Highway 89). If you are driving to Emerald Bay, there is a large vista point with ample parking that offers great views of the bay and its dramatic, surrounding mountains. If you are boating to Emerald Bay, the mouth of the bay is very interesting as it is extremely shallow (20 feet or so) and boasts the emerald green color quite spectacularly.
In 1969, Emerald Bay was recognized as a National Natural Landmark by the federal Department of the Interior. In 1994, California State Parks included the surrounding water of the bay as a part of the park, making Emerald Bay one of the first underwater parks of its type in the state, protecting the various wrecks and other items on the bay’s bottom.
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