A historic retreat since 1862

Named for the gentle westerly winds that arrive in the afternoons, Zephyr Cove was a special location on the southeast corner of the lake. So coveted in fact, that over the years, some of the most famous names in Tahoe’s history have owned this land.


In 1862 Andrew Gardener claimed 160 acres of beachfront property and built an inn named Zephyr Cove House. The inn catered to the wave of prospectors seeking silver.


The silver boom slowed and lumber was in demand. The property was now owned by Carson and Tahoe Lumber and Fluming Company and expanded services to include cordwood cutting operations.


It was not until the turn of the century when the potential of the Lake Tahoe Basin as a tourist destination began to get noticed. At a time when “opulent summer retreats” were popping up across the country, Lake Tahoe was no different. A handful of very wealthy families from California built their own massive family vacation homes bordering the shoreline, some so stunning they have since become museums offering tours today. It was at that time, the early 1900’s, when Zephyr Cove Resort began a legacy of hospitality that continues today in South Lake Tahoe. During this time, the property was owned by George Whittell and under the management of Charles F. Wylie.

1950s & 60s

During the ’50s and ’60s, the Zephyr Cove Resort was managed by Gene F. Empey. Empey added marina facilities, built a new pier and expanded the trailer sites.  The lodge and stables also experienced a renovation. 


The USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit acquired Zephyr Cove for $4.9 million dollars.


Today, Lake Tahoe welcomes 3 million visitors a year who are seeking the absolute best in winter sports, and summer outdoor recreation. Over the decades, our pristine resort has remained one of South Lake Tahoe’s finest.

Birds Eye view of Zephyr Cove Resort

Our lakeside cabins (still the only ones on all of Lake Tahoe) have been restored to retain their original architecture and character, while being beautifully equipped with modern amenities. Our adjacent Zephyr Cove Marina is the home cruise port of Lake Tahoe Cruises and the famous M.S. Dixie paddle-wheeler, the largest cruising vessel on the lake. And although our updated fleet of power boats and personal watercrafts looks quite a bit different than it did when we started, one thing remains the same – the glistening lake, the majestic mountains, and our awe of nature.  

lakeside cabins

Lakeside Cabins

We hope you will discover why this location, for more than 150 years, has been the premier spot to enjoy the best Lake Tahoe has to offer.

About Lake Tahoe

Formed 2 million years ago and further shaped during the ice age, Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America. It is 22 miles long and straddles the state line between California and Nevada, with a staggering surface area of 193 square miles. In addition to its massive size, it is best known for the clarity of its majestic blue water and its breathtaking backdrop of mountain views on all sides.

Lake Tahoe's depth is up to 1,685 feet, with an average of 989 feet. The lake's surface elevation is 6,229 feet above sea level. To help you grasp the size of Lake Tahoe, its waters could cover the state of California to a depth of 14.5 inches!

M.S Dixie II Celebrates 30 Years on the Water

M.S Dixie II 30th Logo

The M.S. Dixie II, custom-built paddlewheeler built in 1994, was designed specifically to cruise the waters of Lake Tahoe. The M.S. Dixie II has three decks, measures 151 feet long and it can hold over 500 passengers. However, its origins trace back to the original M.S. Dixie, which first graced the lake in 1949.

The M.S. (Motor Ship) Dixie was brought to Lake Tahoe in sections around 1948, having served on the Mississippi River. The original M.S. Dixie first set sail as a cruise ship in 1972, with ports of call at Ski Run, Timber Cove Pier, and eventually making Zephyr Cove its permanent home. From 1972 to 1993, the Dixie faithfully carried out its daily trips across the lake, even surviving a dramatic incident when it unexpectedly sank due to stormy weather. The Dixie was meticulously salvaged, cleaned, and restored after being found resting on the lake's bottom.

In the early 1990s, signs of age began to show on the M.S. Dixie, and in 1993, it was announced that the original M.S. Dixie would be retiring. A new and larger vessel, the M.S. Dixie II, was commissioned to take its place. Built in Wisconsin, the components of M.S. Dixie II were transported across the country by truck and meticulously assembled on the shores of Zephyr Cove, ultimately launching in the spring of 1994.

After 30 years on the water she is an award-winning and the largest cruising vessel in South Lake Tahoe.

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