Lake Tahoe History & Museums: Vikingsholm Castle at Lake Tahoe California

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Vikingsholm Castle

Tour historic Vikingsholm Castle, which sits regally at the head of Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay, to experience medieval architecture brought to life by skilled craftsman in the early 20th century.

  • Built in 1929, Vikingshom Castle offers unbeatable views of south Lake Tahoe.
  • Tours, given during the summer season, explore the castle's authentic Scandinavian architecture and decor. Call (530) 541-6498 for info.
  • The grounds are open to the pubic year round.
  • Parking is off-site, requiring a short but significant hike to the estate grounds.


Vikingsholm Castle, a 38-room structure built in 1929, in the style of medieval Scandanavian architecture, sits, nestled among towering pines and cedars, at the head of Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe's south shore. Like many of Lake Tahoe's earliest estates, Vikingsholm Castle, along with the tea house on Fannette Island (the lake's only island), was built as a summer retreat for a wealthy visionary. The historic home has been property of the State of California since 1953. The landmark offers astounding craftsmanship and architecture, magnificent lake views and beachfront luxury for the public to enjoy.


Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight purchased the parcel of land on Emerald Bay, which includes Fannette Island and Eagle Falls (the only waterfall to flow to Lake Tahoe; a short hike from Vikingsholm), for $250,000 from the Armstrong family who had owned the land since the 1890s. Mrs. Knight travelled extensively throughout Scandanavia, accompanied by her cousin by marriage, a Swedish architect, and compiled inspiration for the great "castle" she would build on her newly acquired land. Hiring many California craftsman to build her home with much of the material sourced from Tahoe Basin, the house, crafted so beautifully with hand-hewn timbers and hand-forged metal fixtures, intricate wood carvings and authentic furnishings, remains an important (and rare) example of Scandanavian architecture in this part of the world. Perhaps the home's most talked-about feature is the sod-seeded roof that covers the north and south wings and presents colorful wildflowers in the spring.


Vikingsholm Castle is located on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, 22 miles south of Tahoe City, CA, on Highway 89.

To access the grounds, from Harvey West Parking Lot (see below), visitors must hike 1 mile up a moderately steep grade. Access from Eagle Point State Park Day Use Area, at the south shore of Emerald Bay, requires a longer hike (1.7 miles) that has a milder grade. For those in need of handicap access, please, call (930) 525-9530 to make arrangements.

Private boat tours of Lake Tahoe, often, provide views of the estate and Fannette Island, though they do not stop on the grounds. The mansion's beachfront can be accessed, however, by private boat. Boats can be beached on the property from dusk until dawn; the dock is available for loading purposes only.  


The mansion is open to the public from Memorial Day until the end of September. The grounds are open year round.

Guided tours of the historic "castle" are available daily from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. during the summer season with tours of no more than 30 beginning on the half hour. Call (530) 541-6498

Public parking and primary access to the estate can be found on Highway 89 at the Harvey West Parking Lot at Emerald Bay State Park. Additional parking ar Eagle Point State Park Day Use Area is available and necessary for use during the hight points (in July and August) of the summer season. As stated above, visitors must hike at least one mile to the mansion from either parking lot.   


Visitors should expect to pay $10 to park in either lot.

Tours cost $10 for adults, $8 for children ages 6-17 years, and kids under 6 years get free entrance.

Other Vikingsholm Castle Resources


Vikingsholm is a historic castle located in the Emerald Bay of Lake Tahoe.