Imagine a lake so deep it could hide the Empire State Building in it, with water almost as pure as what’s in your bottle. This is Lake Tahoe, a mesmerizing location along the Nevada-California border, with endless options for camping! Lake Tahoe is the 2nd deepest lake in the USA and the 5th largest by volume (only behind the Great Lakes)! In this article, we will guide you through the best camping spots along Lake Tahoe’s amazing shores. Let’s embark on this adventure together and find your perfect campsite along the sparkling, deep blue waters of Lake Tahoe!
1. Camp Richardson Resort
Camp Richardson Resort is a well-known destination in Lake Tahoe that offers an amazing camping experience. It has a wide range of options, with over 200 tent sites, around 100 RV sites, cozy cabins, and vacation rentals. The resort has two wonderful campground locations: one by the lakeside of Hwy 89 and the other in a peaceful forest on the opposite side of the road.
What makes it special is the variety of amenities and facilities available. You can enjoy a beautiful lakefront restaurant, a fully equipped marina, a convenient general store, an ice cream parlor, and a coffee shop, all within the resort’s property.
For families looking for a stress-free vacation, Camp Richardson is a perfect choice. It offers the perfect blend of a resort-like experience while still enjoying nature.
2. Campground By The Lake
If being at the center of all activities is what you’re looking for, then the ‘Campground By The Lake’ makes an ideal pick. Nestled right on Lake Tahoe Blvd, this expansive campground features a big loop containing 50 sites with full hookups and 120 sites without hookups.
This campground is in a prime location, opposite Lake Tahoe, and within walking distance to many stores, eateries, and coffee shops in South Lake Tahoe.
Managed by the City of Lake Tahoe, this campground is within a stone’s throw of the city’s recreational facilities. Campers can enjoy the campground’s facilities, like the swimming complex, gym, and other amenities.
Here, you’ll enjoy a blend of authentic camping experiences combined with modern comfort.
3. Camp Shelly
Camp Shelly is a charming and cozy campground, offering a more intimate experience compared to its larger neighboring sites. With just twenty-five individual campsites, Camp Shelly is much less crowded and more centered around nature. Each campsite comes with parking, a fire pit, a picnic table, a grill, and convenient access to nearby restroom facilities, which include flush toilets and hot showers.
Located just off of Hwy 89, Camp Shelley captures the essence of a classic forest camp while still being only 1.5 miles from the beautiful Lake Tahoe.
For RV campers, it’s important to note that Camp Shelley offers basic amenities only. If you require full hookups for your RV, you may need to explore other camping options.
4. Fallen Leaf Campground
Nestled between Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Campground is one of the best camping spots near Lake Tahoe. The campground is situated in national forest land and features a loop with 206 RV and tent sites, offering a variety of options for families to enjoy the area. Basic amenities such as flush toilets, fire pits, and grills are available, ensuring a comfortable camping experience.
Fallen Leaf Lake is renowned for offering some of the finest camping opportunities in Lake Tahoe. While the campground provides spacious drive-through sites for RVs, it’s important to note that there are not any standard RV sites, and full hookups are not available.
However, you can easily look past the lack of full hookups once you arrive at the campground, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy the surroundings. Whether you embark on a day of hiking to Fallen Leaf Lake or enjoy a bike ride down to Lake Tahoe, there is plenty to do at Fallen Leaf Campground.
5. Tahoe Valley Campground
We can’t overlook Tahoe Valley Campground, which is an excellent option for camping enthusiasts in Lake Tahoe. While it may not offer the same rustic charm or extensive forest access as some of the other campgrounds in South Lake Tahoe, it does have something valuable—availability. Moreover, it provides full hook-ups for RVs, and here’s the best part—it’s open year-round.
This is one of the rare camping and RV options that you can enjoy throughout the entire year in Lake Tahoe, whether you prefer the North or South Shore. Additionally, with over 400 sites, the campground has plenty of space to accommodate you and your friends or family!
Situated in South Lake Tahoe, this campground is only a short distance from grocery stores, cafés, bars, and more. You’re also just a short ride away from attractions like Fallen Leaf Lake, Pope Baldwin Bike Path, and other spectacular beaches on Lake Tahoe.
6. Tahoe State Recreation Area
If you’re searching for camping options on the northern edge of Lake Tahoe, look no further than the campground at Tahoe State Recreation Area. It’s an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts, located just outside Tahoe City.
It’s important to plan ahead to secure your spot at Tahoe State Recreation Area, as there are only 23 sites. However, the effort is well worth it when you get to enjoy a scenic campsite just a few feet away from the lake, with a serene bike path leading into town.
While the campsites at Tahoe State Recreation Area are comfortable, it’s important to note that no hookups or dump stations are available. However, this shouldn’t discourage you, as it’s easy to embrace a simpler camping experience when you’re in such close proximity to the area’s finest beaches, restaurants, and activities.
7. Lake Forest Campground
Lake Forest Campground is another campsite that is located right on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Operating on a first-come, first-serve basis, Lake Forest Campground offers a unique camping experience. Yes, that’s right! No reservations are required. While the amenities may be simple, with pump water and portable toilets being the only offerings, the campground’s location and affordability make it a hidden gem worth discovering.
Situated just outside of Tahoe City and managed by the Tahoe City Public Utility District, this modest campground consists of just 20 sites. So, make sure to get in early to snag a site!
It’s conveniently located near the lake, the town, and surrounded by the beauty of Mother Nature. There’s still plenty to love about this no-frills camping experience.
8. Zephyr Cove Resort
At the southeastern corner of Lake Tahoe, you’ll find Zephyr Cove Resort and Campground. Zephyr Cove is one of the main population centers on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. This campsite is one of the best camping spots along Lake Tahoe that welcomes both RV and tent campers.
Offering a total of 47 walk-in sites, 93 RV sites, and 10 drive-in sites that gracefully hug the shoreline, this campground provides the perfect setting for a memorable and family-friendly camping trip.
While the campsites are nestled amidst the forest, surrounded by boulders and towering pine trees, you won’t have to compromise on modern comforts. The campground offers convenient amenities such as showers, bathrooms, and full hookups (including cable!).
The resort also features a marina, equipment rentals, and an on-site restaurant.
9. Nevada Beach Campground
Nevada Beach Campground is popular among summertime travelers. This campground offers many RV and tent spaces though there are not any hookup facilities.
This camping site provides all the fundamental amenities, such as clean flushing restrooms, designated fire pits, and barbeque grills.
The adjacent Nevada Beach offers an expansive sandy stretch, making it one of the most extensive beachfronts in the region. Several camping spots are situated merely a stone’s throw away from this sandy paradise.
For those preferring a bit more privacy, there are camp spots neatly nestled within the surrounding woodland. These more remote sites are still just a short, leisurely walk from the beachfront.
10. DL Bliss
DL Bliss State Park, located on the lake’s western boundary, is a mountain sanctuary that offers a bit of everything: immaculate sandy shores, trails, hidden inlets, and a forest teeming with pines. It can rightfully be considered one of the premier camping destinations in California, with activities ranging from kayaking to early-morning hikes just moments away from your tent.
The camping spots at DL Bliss are relatively compact, providing only essential amenities.
There are no hook-up services available, but campers have the convenience of restrooms and showers, barbeque grills, and bear-resistant storage units. However, when one considers the proximity to natural attractions such as the Rubicon Trail, Lester Beach, and Calawee Cove, the basic amenities seem more than enough!
11. Eagle Point
The popularity of Eagle Point Campground is evident from the fact that its reservations get booked up to half a year in advance. Its location on the brink of Emerald Bay, coupled with stunning views, a private beach, and the renowned Rubicon Trail meandering through the neighboring woods, guarantee an encounter with an abundance of nature’s charm.
The campground itself is quite basic, featuring modest-sized and occasionally uneven plots, so it is most suitable for tent camping. That said, certain sites can accommodate trailers and RVs, although there are no hookups. The campground also provides hot showers in freshly refurbished restrooms.
12. Meeks Bay Resort
Meeks Bay Resort and Marina is one of the best places to set up a tent in Lake Tahoe. They provide well-kept camping spots in a prime beachside setting.
Don’t be misled by the ‘resort’ in its name; the campground is rather simple, offering standard amenities such as BBQ grills, restrooms, and coin-operated showers. However, a snack bar and a general store are on the premises, catering to those sudden munchies or spontaneous grocery needs during your sun-drenched beach day.
Do note, though; pets aren’t allowed on the resort grounds. Therefore, if your four-legged friends are also camping enthusiasts, you should consider other options!
13. William Kent Campground
The William Kent Campground stands out due to its location in a residential zone close to a bustling highway.
Some might find this off-putting, but if you’re a camping novice worried about spending the night deep in the forest, this campground might be an ideal introductory choice.
The facility boasts more than 80 spots, encompassing conventional tent spaces, RV slots, and even yurts. Despite the somewhat urban setting of the campground, the thick foliage surrounding many of the camping areas offers a more private and serene experience than you might think.
The William Kent Campground is very popular as a day-use site. It’s a mere ten-minute journey from Lake Tahoe and provides convenient access to a well-liked cycling trail that encircles the lake.
It’s an excellent base for those planning mountain biking adventures around Lake Tahoe.
14. Sugar Pine Point Campground
Sugar Pine Point Campground is a great camping spot along Lake Tahoe even during winter, as it remains open while many other campgrounds in the Lake Tahoe area close.
During the winter, the campground operates on a first-come, first-served basis. However, for the summer season, securing a reservation ahead of time is advisable to ensure you get a site.
This park features a two-mile stretch of lakefront access and is renowned for its commitment to preserving the natural surroundings.
General Creek flows into Lake Tahoe from the park and is recognized for some of the region’s cleanest waters. During the summer, you can enjoy fishing and swimming in the creek or simply hike alongside it.
For winter visitors, cross-country skiing is a popular activity as the park maintains several miles of ski trails. Additionally, ranger-led programs are available during the colder months.
15. Dispersed Camping At Lake Tahoe
Fortunately, for camping enthusiasts on a budget or those preferring less populated sites, Lake Tahoe offers several free camping options, including dispersed camping.
Dispersed camping refers to establishing your campsite away from any pre-marked campgrounds. It’s typically free, but you should only do it in areas where you are legally allowed.
While dispersed camping offers a more authentic experience, it involves quite a bit more effort to locate a suitable site. Also, since these sites are not located near toilets, trash cans, or firepits, you will have to bring more equipment and pack out all of your trash. However, the upside is that permits or reservations are generally not needed.
Camping in the protected wilderness is permitted in California but not within developed parks or other protected zones. In contrast, on Nevada’s side of Lake Tahoe, dispersed camping is permitted almost everywhere except designated campgrounds.
The prime advantages of this form of camping are its cost-effectiveness and the ability to stay the night miles away from other people. But it does have drawbacks, like strict fire restrictions in the Tahoe area, which could even include camp stoves. So, check the fire warnings before you set off and plan meals that don’t require heating if needed.
Summary of 15 Absolute Best Camping Spots Near Lake Tahoe
|1||Camp Richardson Resort||Lakefront restaurant, marina, general store & much more|
|2||Campground By The Lake||Gym, shops, cafes & restaurant|
|3||Camp Shelly||Picnic tables, grills, hot showers & restrooms|
|4||Fallen Leaf Campground||Tent & RV sites, fire pits & grills|
|5||Tahoe Valley Campground||Cafes, general store & year-round RV hookups|
|6||Tahoe State Recreation Area||Restaurants, best beaches & outdoor activities|
|7||Lake Forest Campground||Portable toilets & pump water|
|8||Zephyr Cove Resort||Restaurant, marina, full hookups, showers & rentals|
|9||Nevada Beach Campground||Dog-friendly beach, toilets & grills|
|10||DL Bliss||Lockers, restrooms & showers|
|11||Eagle Point||Private beach & showers|
|12||Meeks Bay Resort||BBQs, general store, showers & restrooms|
|13||William Kent Campground||Lockers, toilets, mobility-accessible sites, fire pits & grills|
|14||Sugar Pine Point Campground||Mobility-accessible sites, lockers & showers|
|15||Dispersed Camping At Lake Tahoe||None|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Colin D. Young/Shutterstock.com
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