Happy camper: Pitch a tent at one of these drive-up campgrounds near Tahoe
There’s a time and a place for packing only what you need into a backpack and heading off on your own two legs into the backcountry to convene with nature in solitude. There is also a time and place for jamming your car to the brim with things you think you might need (but probably don’t) and pitching a tent next to your ride. Air mattress? Bring it. Portable espresso maker? Toss it in.
From Tahoe City to South Lake Tahoe, there are dozens of campgrounds to choose from whether you want to be close to Big Blue or you’re up for a little road trip to someplace new.
Nevada Beach Campground
On the East Shore a few miles north of Stateline, Nevada Beach Campground has over 50 campsites for tent and RV camping. Situated between the meadows and pines cut through by the Lam Watah Nature Trail and Nevada Beach’s long stretch of sandy shoreline, the campground offers the best of both worlds. If you’re lucky, you can snag a spot with views of the lake. Take a short drive or bike ride to Stateline for supplies, a local craft beer at South of North Brewing, or a quick game of blackjack at the casinos.
Silver Lake Campgrounds
For a more secluded experience, head 20 miles south of South Lake Tahoe, past Kirkwood Mountain Resort on Highway 88, to camp near another beautiful alpine lake at Silver Lake West or East campgrounds. Sitting at 7,200 feet, the expansive Silver Lake is surrounded by towering granite rock structures and numerous trails to explore. The charmingly rustic Kit Carson Lodge is within walking distance of the campsites, giving campers access to boat rentals and a well-stocked general store. Silver Lake West has sites along the Silver Fork American River, while the East side is closer to the lake itself. Spend the day kayaking, fishing, or discovering your own private beach for swimming.
Fallen Leaf Lake Campground
Fallen Leaf Lake is a hidden gem conveniently located in South Lake Tahoe, though it feels much more off-the-grid. There are 206 sites, including six yurts, at the campground nestled among pine and aspen trees and meadows teeming with wildflowers, if you catch them at the right time of year. Fallen Leaf Lake is a short walk from the campsites, a great spot to post-up for the day or explore the area by following the 8-mile trail that circumnavigates the lake. For more hiking adventures, head toward the Glen Alpine Trail to see the namesake falls or attempt the arduous trek to the top of Mount Tallac at 9,739 feet.
William Kent Campground
Located in the heart of Tahoe City, William Kent Campground is just a short walk to the beach and all of the restaurants and amenities of the West Shore. Though located in town, the campsites are surrounded by tall pine, cedar and fir trees with shrubs and terrain offering privacy from other campers. Rent bikes from nearby West Shore Sports or watercraft from Sunnyside Marina, enjoy breakfast at Fire Sign Cafe, and grab gourmet goods from West Shore Market.
Sugar Pine Point State Park
Pitch your tent in Tahoma at Sugar Pine Point State Park where two miles of natural lake frontage meets dense forests of evergreens and aspens. After securing one of the park’s 175 sites, set off on foot to explore the waterfront, hike the 4.5-mile loop on General Creek Trail, or take a tour of Hellman-Ehrman Mansion, a beautiful estate from a by-gone era of summer retreats on Lake Tahoe’s shores.
BE BEAR AWARE
Whether the campground is in town or out in the woods, you’re in bear country. Help reduce human-bear interactions by:
- Storing all food in the provided metal bear box.
- Keeping a clean campsite free of food debris or garbage.
- Cleaning and locking up your stove and other cooking utensils.
- Making sure there is no food or scented items like lotions or soap in your tent or vehicle.
- Putting garbage in a designated dumpster.
The days of the impromptu camping trip are, sadly, gone in popular destinations like Tahoe (dispersed or backcountry camping not included). Campsites in Tahoe can book out up to six months ahead of time, so plan accordingly.
Editor’s note: This story was published in the 2022 summer edition of Tahoe Magazine.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.