Clair S Tappaan

History of Clair Tappaan Lodge

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 named after Clair S. Tappaan. At the time of Tappaan’s death, Sierra Club members were organizing to build a ski lodge on Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California. In 1989, former Lodge Committee Chairman Lewis F. Clark, said they named the lodge after Tappaan to use his popularity to help with fundraising.

The Lodge opened on Christmas Eve, 1934, according to Lodge old-timer Frank Shoemaker. Clair Tappaan Lodge is the Sierra Club’s largest and most popular lodge, known among its many supporters as the Sierra Club’s “flagship lodge.” Tappaan’s photo hangs in the entry.

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.


Volunteer Support Team

The mission of the Clair Tappaan Lodge Support Team is to support the Lodge by increasing awareness of the environment, fostering a sense of community, increasing the spirit of volunteerism, and nurturing eco-conscious conduct by providing a wide variety of programs, rustic lodging, and wholesome meals.

The Support Team is a group of volunteers charged with:

  • Marketing to increase year round use of the Lodge
  • Planning and implementing programs and work parties for the Lodge and associated properties
  • Publicizing the lodge and its activities both within the Sierra Club and to the media
  • Volunteer recruitment
  • Setting policy and goals for the Lodge

adding womens bathroomJoin the Support Team

Clair Tappaan’s success is due largely in part to the dedication of our volunteers. There are many fun and rewarding ways to help. Let us know what special skills and interests you have. Please contact Wally Juchert, Support Team Chair, at or (707) 538-8492 for more information.

Outings, Outdoor Activities & Programs

The Support Team is looking for individuals interested in proposing and leading outings and outdoor activities and lodge programs. We welcome proposals for a variety of lodge based activities and events. Opportunities range from wildflower photography and nature writing workshops; to snowshoeing and white water rafting.

Become a CTL Certified Outing Leader

Leaders need to be Sierra Club Members, at least 18 years of age, have current certification in First Aid and complete our Leader Training Program. CPR certification is strongly recommended.