One of the most beautiful of the State Parks, Emerald Bay is also of botanical interest. In the forest cover on the steep slopes the dominants are yellow pine, Pinus ponderosa, and red fir, Abies magnifica, with Jeffrey and sugar pine, Pinus jeffreyi and Pinus lambertiana, white fir, Abies concolor, and Western juniper, Juniperus occidentalis, also present. The understory includes bush chinquapin, Chrysolepis sempervirens, Ribes spp., Ceanothus sp. and Arctostaphylos sp.
Along the Eagle Creek above and below the falls there is a riparian community with mountain alder, Alnus tenuifolia, quaking aspen, Populus tremuloides, mountain maple, Acer glabrum, mountain dogwood, Cornus nuttallii, and various willows, Salix spp., among others. The rare, Rorippa subumbellata, which is endemic to the Tahoe region, occurs here.
Animal life is not particularly abundant.
Emerald Bay was scoured out of the Mesozoic granitic rock of the Sierra batholith by Pleistocene glaciers. Traces of the terminal and lateral moraines can still be observed around the edge of the Bay. Fannette Island in mid-bay is a glacial deposit.
Integrity: The area has campsites, a day-use area, several fire roads and numerous trails. There was some logging around 1900 along the shoreline. The Vikingsholm, a replica of a c. 800 A.D. Norse fortress, is located in the Park. Highway 89 skirts the Park.
Use: Educational, observational, light recreational.
Inventory of California Natural Areas
Revision © 2008 Steven Louis Hartman