Unofficial start of summer arrives: Higher campgrounds remain closed due to the heavy snowpack |

Unofficial start of summer arrives: Higher campgrounds remain closed due to the heavy snowpack

William Ferchland and Jeff Munson
Boats with Tahoe only seal are currently the only ones allowed in the lake.
Tribune file

With a winter that dumped enough snow to fill Lake Tahoe to its rim, thus putting an official end to a six-year drought, there’s still enough snowpack remaining in the high country to cover some of the region’s most popular hiking spots.

There are plenty of parks, beaches and campgrounds throughout South Shore and the Sierra open and ready for Memorial Day weekend, considered here as the unofficial beginning of summer.


Beaches, campgrounds and picnic areas in the Eldorado National Forest below 6,000 feet will be open for the weekend, including Lake Tahoe and South Shore’s Campground by The Lake, Zephyr Cove and Camp Richardson. Indian Creek Reservoir in Alpine County is open.

Only a handful of camping spots are available at Camp Richardson, which has a three-night minimum.

However, high elevation favorites such as Wrights Lake, Loon Lake, Bear River Reservoir, Caples Lake, Silver Lake, Woods Lake, Kirkwood Lake and Big Meadows campgrounds remain closed because of snow.

Camping at Desolation Wilderness is not recommended because of the saturated ground, high water levels and snowpack but the U.S. Forest Service has issued some camping permits for the high country.

Beaches such as Kiva and Pope will have their gates open. Nevada and Baldwin have been open for some time.

Some facilities, roads, and trails have experienced significant winter damage because of snow, high water levels, and water runoff and may still be closed or only partially open until repaired.

Fire restrictions

Although forest conditions are wetter than normal, visitors outside of developed campgrounds need to make sure they have at least a 5 foot clearance in all directions around their campfires and that the fire is completely extinguished when they leave” said Fire Prevention Officer Barbara Rebiskie.

Campfire permits are required in order to use wood, charcoal, or gas fires on national forest land. Campfire permits can be obtained free-of-charge at any Forest Service, California Department of Forestry, or Bureau of Land Management office.

Wilderness permits are required year-round for overnight camping in both Desolation and Mokelumne Wilderness areas. The wilderness areas and trails still have six to eight feet of snow in most areas and the streams are running at high volume due to the snow melt. The Forest Service recommends that visitors do not attempt to cross swollen streams and that they use caution when traveling along the stream banks.

Other Sierra campgrounds

Several Tahoe National Forest campgrounds will be closed this Memorial Day weekend because of the snow lingering at high elevations.

“The heavy snow and rain received this past spring delayed the opening of many campgrounds, roads, picnic areas, and trails. Considerable snow can still be found above 5,500 feet, especially on north facing slopes or in shaded areas,” said Tahoe National Forest Supervisor Steve Eubanks.

Campgrounds that will be open include the following areas:

— Bullards Bar Reservoir

— Along the North Yuba River

— Along the Little Truckee River

— Along Stampede, Boca and Prosser reservoirs

— Along Highway 89 north and south of Truckee

— Along Highway 20 east of Nevada City

— Some campgrounds along Interstate 80


The Pacific Crest Trail and other trails at higher elevation are still covered with snow. Hikers, bikers, and horseback riders should be prepared for snowy conditions.

Rivers are running fast, cold and high. The rivers can be dangerous, especially for children and pets.

Susanne Johnson, who works at the front desk of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit branch of the U.S. Forest Service, advised people to day hike in Desolation Wilderness. Hikes into Eagle Lake or Cascade Falls near Emerald Bay are free of snow, as is the bottom of Horsetail Falls. The parking gates to Horsetail Falls are set to open this weekend.

What’s going on:


— All beaches around Lake Tahoe are open

Boat ramps

The following boat ramps are open for Memorial Day Weekend:

— Cave Rock, 24 hours

— Camp Richardson, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (for campground and mooring customers only)

— Tahoe Keys, 8 a.m to 6 p.m.

— Lakeside Marina, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

— Zephyr Cove, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

— Timber Cove, 8 a.m., to 6 p.m.

— Ski Run Marina, 9 a.m to 7p.m.

— South Lake Tahoe Recreation Area boat ramp, 24 hours

— Roundhill Pines, 8 a.m to 7p.m.

Arts and crafts

Summer Outdoor Show-Arts & Crafts, Friday through Monday at Miller’s Outpost parking at the “Y” 10 a.m to 6 p.m.

Sidewalk Sale-Heavenly Village, Friday through Monday

Craft Fair at Horizon Casino Resort, Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Heavenly Gondola

Rides on the gondola at Heavenly Mountain Resort at Stateline begin Friday. The gondola is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily

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