Step-back in time and stroll through the summer homes and gardens of Lake Tahoe’s early vacationers. Built between 1894 and 1921, the Tallac Historic Site preserves a unique era of Tahoe history in time for today’s visitors. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987 and offers a variety of public recreation activities. Explore the interpretative trails, mosey along the beach, take a guided tour or attend a special event, the Tallac Historic Site is where cultural and environmental stewardship meet!
The Tallac Historic Site is seasonally operated from May to October, though exact dates may vary by year. While parking lots and buildings are closed during the winter months, visitors may still access the grounds for recreational activities.
Fall 2022 hours of operations for museum are Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 4pm. The Tallac Museum closes for the season on Monday, October 3.
MONDAY, TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY
It is through collaborative partnerships that the Tallac Historic Site stands today. Purchased by the USDA Forest Service more than 50 years ago, Tallac continues to be owned and operated by the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. To better serve the site and the public, the LTBMU has partnered with non-profit organizations throughout the years to offer interpretative programs and tours, and to supplement general site management.
USDA Forest Service Supervisor’s Office
*hours of operations vary; no public access at this time
Roughly 20 historic structures remain standing today, sprinkled across the Pope, Baldwin and Heller (Valhalla) Estates. These include the elegant family homes, servants’ quarters, blacksmith shop and boathouses. Visitors can take the self-guided interpretative walk throughout the grounds to learn more about these structures and their owners, download the mobile tour, or attend a tour guided by a Tallac volunteer.
The home built under the direction of Lucky Baldwin’s granddaughter, Dextra, now serves as the hub of operations at the Tallac Historic Site. The museum is free to enter and includes an introductory video, exhibits from the early 1900s, gift shop and a Washoe Tribe interpretative room. Come inside to learn and explore, or sit back and relax by the fireplace.
The Tallac Museum Gift Shop offers books, decor, apparel, period-inspired and unique gifts, toys and art that not only celebrates the historic site, but also Lake Tahoe and local businesses. Modern snacks and 1920s-era sweet treats are also available. All gift shop proceeds go towards the preservation and maintenance of the Tallac Historic Site.
The easy trail system surrounding the Tallac Historic Site connects the estates to the Taylor Creek Visitor Center, Camp Richardson and Pope & Baldwin Beaches via the Lakeshore Trail, Visitor Center Trail and bike trail. Check out the site map for more information.
Designated in 1979, the Pope-Baldwin Bike Trail is a National Recreation Trail, one of only five Tahoe-area trails within the National Trails System. The paved path is 3.3 miles one-way and is for non-motorized use only. This trail feeds into the longer South Lake Tahoe Bike Path that extends towards Stateline, NV.
Visitors may bike on designated paths only. No biking is permitted through the gardens, arboretum and paths adjacent to the historic structures. Wooden bike racks are available for use throughout the site.
Why do we have wooden bike racks? As a nationally registered historic place, Tallac must follow specific guidelines to maintain its historical integrity. That means we use a lot of wood, the most abundant resource at the turn of the 20th century, for our structures and mechanisms.
Visitors are welcomed to explore the shoreline and enjoy a beach day in front of the Tallac Historic Site. Depending on precipitation, the amount of available sand beach fluctuates yearly. Kayaks and other non-motorized watercraft are permitted for use, and dogs are also allowed to accompany their owners at the beach. Please be aware that dogs must be leashed at all times, and owners should practice Leave No Trace etiquette.
Parking at the Tallac Historic Site is free, however there are several spaces with a maximum 2-hour stay. No overnight parking or camping is permitted at the estates. Two public restrooms remain available for use throughout the open season, one located nearby the parking lot and the other near the Pope House.
Spearheaded by South Lake Tahoe’s master gardeners, the community garden at the Tallac Historic Site is set to be completed in 2022. Fruits and vegetables such as asparagus, pumpkins, strawberries and tomatoes are grown each year for public and staff enjoyment. The garden is fully funded by grants, donations and volunteer labor. Visitors are welcome to harvest an item from the garden, so long as it is ready to be picked, and they are mindful of their amount of taking.
Established through collaboration between the Washoe Tribe of California and Nevada and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, the Washoe Tending & Gathering Garden is an educational site where visitors learn about the importance of native plants and their tribal uses. The garden consists of 15 species and interpretative pamphlets are available to guide visitors. This garden is planned to be renovated in 2022 through partnership with the Washoe Tribe, non-profit organizations, volunteers and the Forest Service.
The quaint gardens connecting the Pope and Baldwin estates are maintained through the dedicated work of volunteers, with help from local organizations. The South Lake Tahoe Garden Club annually serves at the site, as the high-altitude gardens require regular maintenance. The Pope Estate arboretum is unique in that it houses a gazebo, pond and three Sequoia trees (non-native to the Tahoe Basin). Identification plates are available to help you along the way.
Visitors can also access the audio tour and listen on their cell phones, while touring the grounds. There are 12 stops that span throughout all three estates, each lasting around 2 minutes. Visit the Tallac Museum to set-up the audio tour and grab a brochure.
Tallac Historic Site tours are guided by experienced volunteers, many of whom don 1920s costumes for added interpretative effect. Some have worked at the site for more than a decade! Tour tickets can be purchased at the gift shop inside the Tallac Museum (Baldwin House). Tours often sell out, so it is recommended to book in advance by calling the museum at 530-541-5227. Walk-ins are always welcome, space permitting.
All fees are used by the Great Basin Institute to further the historic Pope-Baldwin Estates programs and restorations. Thank you for your visit!
This engaging, signature tour begins at the Tallac Museum courtyard and winds through the arboretum and pond on the way to the Pope Estate. Your guide will lead you through this historic home that once welcomed Rudolph Valentino as a guest of the Pope family. See the elegant sitting and dining rooms, the servants’ kitchen, the butler’s pantry and more. Learn about the history behind the architecture, the culture, and the people who made this place a home.
Adults • $15
Seniors, military and students • $12
Children (Age 5-12) • $5
Children 4 & under • Free
This tour is mostly sheltered and has some tripping hazards, dirt paths and staircases. For visitors requiring additional support, we can arrange proper accessibility with advanced notice.
For those interested in understanding the “big picture,” a walking tour of the estates is the program for you. This tour takes visitors on a journey through time, beginning in the prehistoric era and ending in our modern day. Discover the human history of the land, how it has impacted the environment, and how the Tallac Historic Site came to be part of our public lands.
Adults • $10
Seniors, military and students • $8
Children (Age 5-12) • $5
Children 4 & under • Free
This is an easy walk on dirt, sand and paved paths; however, due to periods of standing, comfortable shoes are recommended. Also, be prepared for weather conditions and note that summer afternoons can be intense. Water, sunscreen and a hat are highly recommended. This tour does not include entry to the Pope House.
In addition to daily public tours, the Great Basin Institute welcomes private group tours. Group tours have the flexibility to be specially designed according to the group’s interests and size. If you would like to make a group tour reservation, please notify us at least two days in advance. Call the museum at 530-541-5227 or book below.
Maximum Group Size: 150
Price per person: varies dependent on group size
Minimum Fee: $180
Visitors to the site can also take a class or attend a special program. Our list for 2022 includes kids’ classes, adult art classes and Heritage Days. Heritage Days are a fun, free event where history comes alive! Staff get into character, play period-appropriate games and give demonstrations. We are excited to announce a new, spooky interpretative program for the site this fall! Details below:
WEDNESDAYS, THURSDAYS AND FRIDAYS
In 2022 the Great Basin Institute became the new interpretative association for the Tallac Historic Site. The GBI team is responsible for daily operations and volunteer recruitment/management, as well as special event planning and site programming. The Great Basin Institute looks forward to further community collaboration and site improvement projects.
The Washoe Tribe has worked extensively with THS staff to provide environmental and cultural interpretation to visitors and staff alike. Through sharing their culture and traditional way of life in Lake Tahoe, tribal members have created important connections and educational moments for all who visit the site. Without their generosity, partnership and donated resources, the Washoe exhibits on site could never have occurred.
For more than 20 years, the Nevada Air National Guard has volunteered labor and resources at the Tallac Historic Site. This partnership has been immensely beneficial, as the NANG has performed valuable and needed maintenance repairs that are otherwise difficult to accomplish in a typical operating season. Among their many projects, roof replacement utilizing historic sugar pine shake has become their specialty.