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Camp out: A guide to camping around Lake Tahoe

Laney Griffo
lgriffo@tahoedailytribune.com

The city of South Lake Tahoe’s campground. Mike Peron
Tahoe Daily Tribune

While there are some incredible hotels and lodging facilities in the Tahoe Basin, one great way to experience the area is through camping. Whether it’s tent camping, traveling in an RV or if a rustic cabin is preferred, there are many beautiful options.

Whether you live here year round or come especially to enjoy the outdoors, the following is a list of campsites around the basin.

Some campgrounds have just opened for the season and the rest will be opening soon.



Fire restrictions for Tahoe National Forest and the USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit will be noted on their respective websites, and those restrictions will likely be ramped up through the summer after a dry winter.

North Shore

Tahoe State Recreation Area — located east of Tahoe City. The campground has 23 campsites with picnic tables, required-use food storage containers. Due to extreme fire danger, no wood or charcoal fires are allowed until further notice. There are showers and restrooms available for registered campers.



Tahoe SRA does not have hook-ups or dump stations and is best for tent camping or the use of smaller trailers and RVs. Reservations can be made at http://www.reservecalifornia.com.

Goose Meadow Campground — located on the Truckee River, five miles south of Truckee, not far from Tahoe City. The campground offers single-family campsites, each equipped with a picnic table, campfire ring and grill. Each site has a bear box that must be used to store food and other scented items such as toiletries and pet food. Accessible vault toilets and drinking water also provided.

Granite Flat Campground — located on the banks of the Truckee River, three miles south of Truckee. The campground offers 70 single-family sites, seven sites are designated for tent-camping only. Camping trailers can be used on some of the sites.

The roads between campsites are paved and many of the sites are ADA-accessible.

Each site is equipped with a picnic table, campfire ring, grill and bear box for storage of food, pet food and other scented items. Firewood available at the campground at the host site. Accessible vault toilets and drinking water are provided.

Silver Creek Campground — located along the Truckee River, seven miles south of Truckee.

The campground offers several single-family sites, seven sites are designated for tent-camping only.

Each site is equipped with a picnic table, campfire ring, a grill and a bear box that must be used to store food and other scented items such as toiletries and pet food. Firewood available at the campground at the host site. Accessible vault toilets and drinking water are provided. Most roads within the campground are paved. While camping trailers are allowed, larger RVs are not recommended.

South Shore

Angora Lakes Resort — Guests can do a short hike up to Angora Lakes where they can rent a rowboat, kayak or stand-up paddleboard or eat some of the food offered by the resort.

No camping is allowed but there are several cabins that can be rented on a weekly basis. The cabins are booked for the 2021 summer but there is a waitlist available at angoralakesresort.com.

Camp Richardson Resort and Marina offers year-round outdoor recreation in Lake Tahoe. Two campgrounds are just a short walk from Lake Tahoe with over 200 tent sites; Badger’s Den Campground, located on the lake side of Highway 89, and Eagle’s Nest, across the street from Badger’s Den Campground. Some of the campsites are ADA accessible. Each campsite includes a picnic table, bear-proof box, and fire pit. Restrooms are token-operated.

There are also several full and partial hook-up sites available for RVs.

Due to COVID restrictions, the group sites cannot be reserved. Make reservations at http://www.camprichardson.com.

Bayview Campground — located near Emerald Bay and sits at an elevation of 7,100 feet. Opening and closing dates are dependent on the weather. Bayview Campground serves as a trailhead for Desolation Wilderness. There are fire-rings at each site and a vaulted toilet but no water. The campsites are all first-come, first-served.

Camp Shelly — located in South Lake Tahoe on Highway 89 between Fallen Leaf Lake and Emerald Bay. Amenities include hot showers and a metal fire pit and grill in every campsite. Most sites can accommodate tent trailers and campers and some can accommodate RVs up to 24 feet in length.

Fallen Leaf Campground — located approximately one-quarter mile north of Fallen Leaf Lake. The campground has over 200 tent and RV sites available. It can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet. Standing BBQ’s and fire rings are available at all sites.

Campground by the Lake — located with the city limits of South Lake Tahoe. The campground offers tent and RV camping. RVs can reserve electric and water hookups or just electric. Bathroom and shower use is limited due to COVID. Reservations can be made at http://www.reserveamerica.com.

East Shore

Zephyr Cove Resort & Campground — located on the southeast shore of Lake Tahoe on U.S. Highway 50. Zephyr Cove offers something for everyone. Not only are tent camping sites available but it is also RV accessible and it has airstreams to rent. The campsites offer picnic tables, a fire ring and bear boxes. Make reservations at http://www.zephyrcove.com.

Nevada Beach Campground — The campground offers dozens of campsites, available for tent and RV camping. Some sites are in wooded areas and others are not, many of the sites have a view of the lake. All parking areas are paved.

Each site is equipped with tables, campfire rings and grills. Accessible flush toilets and drinking water are provided.

Spooner Lake & Backcountry — Camping is allowed in three primitive, walk-in campgrounds, Marlette Peak, Hobart and North Canyon. Each campground has a restroom and campsites with picnic tables, fire rings and bear resistant food and trash storage boxes. While camping, store food and trash in these boxes.

The park also manages two backcountry cabins. The Spooner Lake Cabin is located just north of Spooner Lake and sleeps four people comfortably. The Wildcat Cabin is approximately 2.5 miles up North Canyon (several hundred yards east of the road) and sleeps two. Both cabins have basic amenities such as composting toilets, beds, cook stoves and wood burning stoves, but other items such as sleeping bags, food and utensils will need to be packed in. Reservations can be made at http://parks.nv.gov.

West Shore

Meeks Bay Resort — located on the West Shore on Highway 89. Meeks Bay Resort has several tent and RV sites available within walking distance from the lake. The campsites must be booked for two nights minimum. Each site includes a picnic table, fire ring, and food locker. Meeksbayresort.com.

Kaspian Campground — located on the West Shore, this small campground offers tent camping and RV sites for RVs up to 20 feet. Campfires are allowed.

William Kent Campground — located near Tahoe City. The campground offers 84 tent and RV campsites. The campground has drinking water and flush toilets available. Campfires are allowed.

Emerald Bay State Park — the iconic park is located on the southwest side of Lake Tahoe. It has two campgrounds available; Eagle Point Campground and Emerald Bay Boat Camp.

Eagle Point has tent and RV campsites available. Emerald Bay Boat Camp is located on the north side of Emerald Bay, at the site of the old Emerald Bay Resort. Buoys are available, and camping takes place on land in the lakefront campsites.

The campsites provided bear boxes that must be used to store food. Reservations can be made at http://www.reservecalifornia.com.

Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park has family camping and group campsites available. Group sites will be limited to 25 people for the entire group. The campground does not have hook-ups, but there are showers and a dump station for registered campers. Bear lockers are provided and must be used. Reservations can be made at http://www.reservecalifornia.com.

D. L. Bliss State Park — located north of Emerald Bay. This is a historic campground with small roads, small campsites and small parking pads. This campground does not have hook-ups, however, there are showers and a dump station available for registered campers. The maximum trailer length is 15 feet. The maximum motorhome length is 18 feet. Reservations can be made at http://www.reservecalifornia.com.

Camping is available along the Tahoe Rim Trail within 300 feet of the trail corridor and at least 200 feet away from water sources and 100 feet away from trails. Camping is prohibited at trailheads.

Camping within the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park is restricted to three established campsites: Marlette Peak, Hobart and North Canyon Campground. Camping is prohibited near Watson Lake outside of the Watson Lake Campground.

Camping in Desolation Wilderness is by permit only. There are nearly 50 camping areas available in Desolation.

Bear proofing of all smellables (food, hygiene products, etc.) is required on the Tahoe Rim Trail. The preferred and most successful method is to utilize a bear canister. Campfires on the TRT are prohibited.

* A note on dispersed camping — Dispersed camping is not allowed in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Wilderness camping is only available in the Desolation, Granite Chief and Mt. Rose wildernesses. Desolation Wilderness requires a wilderness permit to enter.

When camping in the wilderness, minimize the impacts on the land and use the Leave No Trace ethics. Campfires and charcoal are not allowed in Desolation Wilderness, along the Tahoe Rim Trail or in any backcountry rock fire rings.

Truckee

Lakeside Campground — located on the west shore of Prosser Reservoir. The campground has single-family campsites, each equipped with a picnic table and campfire ring. Accessible vault toilets and drinking water are provided.

Prosser Family Campground — located on the West Shore above Prosser Reservoir. The campground offers single-family campsites, each equipped with a picnic table and campfire ring (firewood is available at the campground host site). Accessible vault toilets and drinking water are provided.

Boca Reservoir — There are several campsites located near Boca Reservoir, including Boca Campground, Boca Rest Campground and Boca Springs Campground.

Boca Campground offers single family sites. Each site is equipped with picnic tables and a fire ring. Firewood available at the campground at the host site. There are accessible vault toilets, however there is no water provided at the sites.

The Boca Rest Campground offers single-family sites, with a few located right along the waterfront when the water is high. Most sites are fairly exposed with little to no shade. Each site is equipped with picnic tables and campfire rings. Accessible vault toilets and drinking water are provided.

Boca Springs Campground offers single-family sites and one group site that can accommodate up to 25 people and eight vehicles.Picnic tables, campfire rings and grills are provided, as are accessible vault toilets and drinking water.

A few sites are available for equestrian use by reservation, those sites have equestrian tie hitches and a trough on site.

Boyington Mill Campground is located near Boca Dam. The campground offers single-family sites, each equipped with a picnic table and campfire ring. There are accessible vault toilets.

Donner Memorial State Park campground offers 154 sites with picnic tables, restrooms, beach, fishing, and lakeside interpretive trail. Due to extreme fire danger, no wood or charcoal fires until further notice. Trailers up to 24 feet and campersmotorhomes up to 28 feet are allowed.

Reservations can be made at http://www.reservecalifornia.com.


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