Lake Tahoe ranch where ‘Bonanza’ was filmed sells for $38 million


Even if you’ve never been to Lake Tahoe, you still might recognize this Nevada ranch. The long-running NBC western “Bonanza” filmed its opening sequence on the scenic estate, as the show’s main characters rode horseback across the grassy landscape with sweeping shots of the Sierra Nevada in the background.

More than half a century later, the property just sold for $38 million.

Once used to portray the fictional Cartwright family’s Ponderosa Ranch, the 24-acre property is set along the east shore of Lake Tahoe in Zephyr Cove. It looks a bit different these days, with two homes built in 2004 combining for nine bedrooms and 9.5 bathrooms across more than 18,000 square feet.


A dramatic gated motor court approaches the stone-clad mansion, entering into formal living spaces with beamed ceilings, hand-carved fireplaces and ornate chandeliers. Picture windows in the living room, dining room and kitchen take in views of the water.

Other highlights include a wine cellar, craft room, movie theater, gym, two offices and a spacious billiards room with a wet bar under vaulted ceilings. A second-story deck hangs off the backside of the home, overlooking a stretch of sandy beach that leads to a private dock with a boat lift.

The impressive property has been waffling on and off the market for the last five years, originally listing for $59 million in 2016 along with another property before a series of price cuts divided the land and brought the tag down to $39.9 million.

Lexi Cerretti of Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty held the listing. Jean Merkelbach of Engel & Völkers represented the buyer.

“Bonanza” ran for 14 seasons and 431 episodes from 1959 to 1973, making it NBC’s longest-running western show.