- Built in 1936 by San Francisco millionaire George Whittell, Jr., the six-acre lakefront Thunderbird Lodge consists of a main lodge, three cottages, a card house, a boathouse, an elephant house, a lighthouse, three garages, and a gatehouse. A tour is the only way to see the expansive property. Although pricey for an hour, the experience is unforgettable. For instance, the entire garden, staged from mountain to lake, was a fountain filled by waterfall; a 600 foot granite tunnel serves as a direct path from the lodge to the boathouse—the home of Thunderbird, a brushed stainless steel and mahogany boat powered with dual 1100 horsepower aircraft engines. Today, Thunderbird still operates flawlessly for water tours and special events. Reservation is required to join the tour. Tours operate from Tuesdays to Fridays.
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