White Birch Lodge was started by Cliff and Ruby Conrad in 1958. The Conrads, hailing from Maumee, Ohio, had the vision of a place where families could come to enjoy “up North” summer vacations. Elk Lake’s crystal clear blue water provided the setting, and with help from friends and young staff, they began to offer an all-inclusive, “American plan” style of vacation where the staff took care of all the work, giving parents freedom to relax and enjoy.
The lush lakefront property where the resort lies had been operated off and on as a hotel since the early 1900s. The main lodge was constructed in the late 1800s and remains the heart and soul of WBL today. Waterskiing and sailing became popular pastimes on the lake, while cooks prepared three meals each day in the lakefront dining hall. The active vacationer enjoyed all the available sports activities on and off the water, while the quiet serenity of the area brought relaxation. Countless friendships developed between guests and staff alike and continue to reunite years later.
The Conrads’ passion for fun and service lives on today. Still family-owned and operated by Cliff and Ruby’s children and grandchildren, the resort has evolved with the same all-inclusive program at its center. Accommodations have grown to include everything from rustic cabins to luxurious condominiums, all clustered around Elk Lake’s sandy, birch-lined shores.
The watersports program has grown into one of the most extensive in the nation! Four MasterCraft ski and wakeboard boats, along with an experienced waterfront crew, will provide the ultimate in waterfront fun whether on skis, a wakeboard, or bouncing around on a tube or the “Big Banana” towable. Beginners learn quickly with assistance and coaching by staff, and advanced/intermediate riders excel with the help of professional boat drivers. Learning to waterski or wakeboard builds confidence for young kids as the whole dock cheers on their efforts. A fleet of sailboats, small and large, along with instruction from our resident captain, will help you ride the warm breezes off Grand Traverse Bay.
Kayaks and canoes provide a quiet, relaxing paddle and beautiful views are to be had from our stand up paddle boards. Countless beach and water toys will entertain the kids for hours on end, while pontoon boat cruises or a dip in the refreshing water may be enjoyed by the whole family. You won’t find another waterfront program with the variety and level of service offered by WBL!