Clair Tappaan Lodge
Historic Movie Clips
Building Clair Tappaan Lodge 1934 - 1935
Rope Tow at Clair Tappaan Lodge - 1950s
Dog Sled Team hauling a stove over Castle Pass to Peter Grubb Hut - 1950s
In 1934, a hearty group of Sierra Club volunteers built
Clair Tappaan Lodge as a rustic retreat for hikers, skiers, and mountain climbers. The
Lodge is a charming home base from which to explore the riches of the Sierra Nevada.
Nestled in a pocket of the mountains near Donner Summit at an elevation of
7,000 feet, the area receives the highest average snowfall of the entire Sierra
Nevada range, making the Lodge a favorite with cross-country ski and snowshoe
In summer, the variety of recreational opportunities is unlimited. A network of nearby trails offers miles of hiking and provides access to fishing streams, remote meadows and peaks, and swimming lakes. The well-known Pacific Crest Trail is only a mile away and can be reached right out the back door of the lodge.
The Donner Summit area is great for both road and mountain biking and is also widely known as a rock climbers mecca. The Lodge is on the edge of the Lake Tahoe Basin, with Tahoe itself only 25 miles away.
Historically, nearby Donner Pass played a key role in the early
emigration of fortune seekers from the Eastern U.S. to California. The challenging wagon
road over the Pass was used as early as the 1840s. Donner Lake State Park is a great place
to learn more about this early emigrant route.
Railroad buffs will note that the Central
(later Southern) Pacific tracks, which led to the joining of the rails at Promontory, Utah
in 1869, can be seen from the lodge itself. Although the railroads made travel through the
area easier, winter snow conditions frequently challenged their passage. There are still
traces of the original 37 miles of snowsheds over the rails, used to keep the tracks from
becoming clogged with snow.
Staying at the Lodge
The Lodge itself has hosted generations of Sierra Club members in its
uniquely friendly, communal atmosphere. Clair Tappaan has a special charm, with its
spacious living room and enormous fireplace, its cozy library and reading area, and its
relaxing sun deck. Since the very beginning, the cooperative spirit familiar to Sierra
Club Outing participants has been employed at the lodge. Each day of their stay, guests
assist with daily kitchen chores such as meal preparation and serving, setting tables, or
dishwashing. These chores require about one half hour each day.
A hearty breakfast and dinner are prepared each day by the professional
kitchen staff and are served in the Lodges large, communal dining room. Brown bag
lunch provisions are available for guests to take with them each day. A vegetarian meal
option is always available, and participants with other dietary restrictions can usually
be accommodated, provided that their trip leader is informed in advance. Because the Lodge
is an old building, constructed of wood and shingles, no smoking is allowed, either in the
building or on the surrounding trails.
All accommodations are in bunk beds equipped with mattresses (bring your own
sleeping bag or bedding). A variety of room types and sizes are
available. Accommodations are assigned in advance by the trip leader.
Restroom and shower facilities are shared, with two mens and
two womens bathrooms (bring your own towel). The Lodge also
has a hot tub, so be sure to bring your bathing suit! A small, friendly,
and professional staff care for the Lodge year round. Reservations
can be made by calling the Lodge directly at 530-426-3632.
If you want to explore the Sierra Nevada this winter but don't want to build an igloo or dig a snow cave, the four Sierra Club huts near Lake Tahoe may be just perfect.