Gardens of Thunderbird Lake Tahoe


The beautiful gardens of historic Thunderbird Lodge are defined by the extraordinary alpine landscape of the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe and unique architectural elements of the estate created so long ago by George Whittell, Jr. The gardens are framed by the original stone terraces, staircases, and pathways of the Lodge set against the backdrop of a native pine forest and immense granite boulder formations.

Charming stone houses and planter boxes brimming with flowers greet the visitor to the grounds. Along the entry staircase above the Cook Butler House, a colorful tapestry of native and adapted accent plants cascades down the hillside to the spirea garden. The naturalistic landscape design of the gardens demonstrates how native and adapted plants can be artistically combined to good effect while maintaining a healthy landscape appropriate to the site.

Woodland gardens, extending from the dramatic Waterfall in front of the Old Lodge and along the serpentine Dragon's Tail pathway leading to the Card House, include specimen Rhododendron, Japanese Maple, Vine Maple, Hydrangea and hardy perennials nestled among the boulders and native forest.

Large pots filled with elegant combinations of perennial plants add a bit of pizzazz in front of the Old Lodge and the lakeside Wishing Well Patio and lawn area.

The Shamrock Herb gardens overlooking the lagoon provide fragrant, organically-grown herbs for the Thunderbird Culinary Program that features organic, sustainable local products. This garden demonstrates a variety of culinary, medicinal, and ornamental herbs that grow successfully at Lake Tahoe.

Toni Fauver's Garden, along with surrounding niches and terraces near the Gazebo and dock feature a collection of native plants, durable perennials, and wildflowers common to the high-altitude Sierra and inter-mountain West.

Over the past several years, The Lake of the Sky Garden Club North Lake Tahoe has supported the beautification of our gardens through its community grants program.

The Thunderbird Lodge Gardens continue to be maintained and renovated by Master Gardeners certified by the University of Nevada Reno Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program. Garden volunteers work with and are trained by our Master Gardeners. Garden practices include organic culture, IPM, and integrated landscape management to conserve water, prevent soil erosion, and protect water quality.

For information about becoming a garden volunteer, please call (775) 832-8753, use our Contact Form, or to apply use our online Volunteer Application form.