Crystal clear water, boulder formations, sandy beaches, Shakespeare and interpretive displays of Lake Tahoe's natural and cultural history - what more could you want? How about a milkshake and a quick kayak trip to the secluded and historic Thunderbird Lodge? All this and more can be found at Sand Harbor, one of the most popular state parks around Lake Tahoe. Long sandy beaches, rocky coves, beautiful rock formations, breathtaking sunsets, shady forested areas and panoramic lake views, Sand Harbor offers visitors unparalleled opportunities to enjoy Lake Tahoe and to learn about its maritime connection to the Comstock Lode.
History records Sand Harbor as playing an important role in the operations of the Sierra Nevada Wood and Lumber Company, one of three large combines supplying lumber and cordwood to the Comstock mines during the late 19th century. Walter Scott Hobart organized the company and John Bear Overton was its general manager.
The steamer "Niagara" towed log rafts from company land at the south end of Lake Tahoe to Sand Harbor. Here the logs were loaded on narrow-gauge railway cars and taken two miles north to a sawmill on Mill Creek. Lumber and cordwood were started on the way to Virginia City via an incline tramway 4,000 feet long, and rising 1,400 feet up the mountainside where the material was transferred to water flumes and transported to Lakeview just north of Carson City. The tramway has been described as "the Great Incline of the Sierra Nevada."
Facilities at Sand Harbor include a boat launch, picnicking, restaurants, bathrooms. The Sand Harbor Visitor Center opened in 2007 and is one part museum, one part conference center and one part restaurant/store. The museum part includes displays of Tahoe's natural and cultural history - the newest display is called "Sand Harbor History." The Visitor Center is open primarily Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday only from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm although hours may vary.
Also, during July and August, this Nevada State Park becomes the location of high drama and a great deal of fun as it hosts the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. Each year, different plays are selected and performed, much to the delight of audiences at Lake Tahoe. The performances occur outdoors with the waters of the lake in the background.