A Young Couple Parked Van at a Viewpoint of Lake Tahoe
Getty Images, Adam Kaz

Camping Lake Tahoe: 9 Locations for Stellar Beach Access

Lake Tahoe has prime camping mid-May to Mid-October, before the snow comes.

Lake Tahoe is a prime year-round vacation destination. With pristine waters, gorgeous views, incredible hikes, restaurants, resorts, and skiing, who wouldn't want to visit? The entire area is an outdoor lover's paradise, and camping in Lake Tahoe can be a magical experience whether you are on the California or Nevada side of the lake. Fun fact: It's one of the largest, deepest, and clearest mountain lakes!

Despite being a mecca of pricey resorts and vacation rentals, the Lake Tahoe area is rife with campgrounds, from Tahoe North to South Lake Tahoe. Every Lake Tahoe campground offers something a little bit different, too. Some locations give campers prime views and easy access to the water. Others delve deeper into Desolation Wilderness National Forest and provide a rustic tent camping experience.

In addition to camping, you'll find so much to experience in the Lake Tahoe basin, from hiking trails to kayaking and paddle boarding. A bike path runs along the side of the road as well, connecting campgrounds to stores and restaurants. Whether you want a combination campground with tent sites and RV hookups or somewhere where you will need some serious bear-proofing, take a look at some of the best Lake Tahoe camping locations.

When's the Best Time to Camp in Lake Tahoe?

Tahoe is gorgeous whether it's sunny and 85 degrees or snowing and 20 degrees. But unless you're into cold weather camping, you may want to plan your camping trip sometime between May and mid-October. If you plan on swimming, you'll want to visit in July and August when the lake is warm enough for a full dip.

What Does it Cost to Camp in Lake Tahoe?

Camping fees vary in Lake Tahoe from $20 to $50 a night for tent and RV campsites. If you're hoping for more luxurious glamping accommodations, such as a yurt or cabin, that can run you $100 or more a night.

Free camping options are few and far between but can be found outside the area's well-known campgrounds. Tahoe National Forest and Eldorado National Forest both allow dispersed camping. Just remember that if you plan on camping outside a developed campground, you must adhere to Leave No Trace principles, including having a proper food storage locker. Bears are common throughout the Tahoe region and are known for breaking into homes, cars, and stores to get their paws on a bite to eat.

Do You Need Reservations to Camp in Lake Tahoe?

Since Lake Tahoe is such a high-demand destination, you must make reservations if you want a chance at getting a campsite. Plan your trip at least six months ahead to ensure you get the campground you really want, especially if it's one right by the lake—with one notable North Lake Tahoe exception, the Lake Forest Campground (see more below).

South Lake Tahoe Campgrounds

Fisheye of Emerald Bay in South Lake Tahoe, with wildflower daisies in foreground

Getty Images, Melissa Kopka


Camp Richardson is a Tahoe institution that offers a variety of camping options. Choose one of the 300 RV or tent sites or book a cabin or vacation rental. The campground is split into two locations by Highway 89, with one side bordering the lake and another tucked back into the forest.

Camp Richardson also has a plethora of camping amenities, with everything you need within walking distance. Head over to the lakeside restaurant, marina, ice cream parlor, coffee shop, general store, or mountain sports center for something to eat or to hang out. Venture out on the lake for a three-hour tour on a boat in Emerald Bay featuring the Vikingsholm Castle for $99 a person.

Campsite reservations start at $50 per night. Book Here.

Eagle Point Campground's 97 campsites look out over both Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe. Amenities include hot showers, flush toilets, and drinking water. Enjoy your lunch at the picnic tables after grilling on the BBQ grills or use the fire rings to heat up some end-of-day s'mores. The campground also sells firewood and ice.

While the sites can hold tents, trailers, or RVs up to 18 feet, they don't have hookups or dump stations. Not all sites have a view of the water, but 43 of them either have a partial or complete view of Tahoe's pristine waters. There are even some boat-in campsites for those who want to stay at the water's edge.

Some sites allow up to eight people and two vehicles in your party, but each one is different, so you'll want to double-check the capacity requirements when booking. If this campsite is full, head over to nearby D.L Bliss State Park or Meeks Bay.

Campsite pricing varies based on season and location. Book Here.

Fallen Leaf Campground sits at the base of Fallen Leaf Lake, beautifully situated between South Lake Tahoe and the spectacular lake. The campground boasts 206 RV and tent sites with flush toilets, grills, and fire pits.

If you plan on bringing your RV, it's important to note that the campground does not have full hookups, so you will have to enjoy your large drive-through spot without any in-camper amenities. But hey, a little boondocking never hurt anyone, especially when there is so much nature to enjoy!

Campsite reservations are $41 per night. Book Here.

Just a few miles south of Tahoe City on the lake's west shore, William Kent Campground has over 80 tent and RV camping sites nestled in the tall pine trees. The sites have tables, campfire rings, grills, flush toilets, and drinking water. Yurts are also available on-site, featuring enough space for five to six people with bunk beds and a futon. While you won't have to sleep on the ground, you will need to bring your outdoor cooking supplies and bedding.

The campground is nestled among pines, cedars, and firs that block out the nearby  residential area and a busy highway running by. Campsites have shrubs, gullies, and ridges to separate one from the other. Bike trails start right near the entrance and run along the western shore.

Campsite reservations range from $36 to $100 per night. Book Here.

North Lake Tahoe Campgrounds

Panoramic of Zephyr Cove in Lake Tahoe

Getty Images, Julia Pusateri

The expression "early bird gets the worm" never applied to anything more than it does to Lake Forest Campground. Unlike the rest of the Lake Tahoe camping sites on this list, this little slice of rustic heaven doesn't take reservations. Sites are solely first come, first served, and there are only 20 of them.

On top of being reservation-free, this campsite has pretty limited amenities. Restrooms are portable toilets, and the water is pumped only. But for what it lacks in amenities, it makes up for in aesthetics. Tahoe City and the lake are nearby, yet you'll find yourself blissfully immersed in the great outdoors.

Campsites reservations are $25 per night. Book Here.

Nevada Beach Campground has dozens of prime camping spots with a pristine beach close by. Tents and RVs are welcome inside the campground with many spots giving campers a birds'-eye view of the lake. While you may want to wake up to the lake's glass-like waters, locations nestled further into the forest have the most privacy. Every site has a fire ring, grill, and table, or you may dine in any of the communal picnic areas.

Enjoy a day out on the water or sunbathing on the wide beach. If hiking is more your style, the trailhead for the 2.6-mile Lam Wa Tah Trail is close by. Explore the area along the trail and catch a glimpse of the gorgeous views it has to offer.

Campsite reservations are $41 per night. Visitors can also rent out the 150-person, open-air pavilion for $175. Book Here.

Zephyr Cove Resort is your go-to spot for year-round Lake Tahoe camping. The full-service campground boasts an RV park with 93 spots with full hookups, plus an additional 47 walk-in spots and 10 drive-in sites for pop-up tent campers.

The grounds have everything you and your family might need: bathrooms, showers, cable, laundry facilities, vending machines, and WiFi in the resort lobby and restaurant. The marina offers water sports rentals, plus the site is near to plenty of other outdoor adventures such as horseback riding.

Just keep in mind that due to its expansive offerings, Zephyr Cove is very popular and books faster than most spots.

Rates vary based on site and time of year. Book Here.

D.L Bliss State Park's campground is basic but serviceable, offering restrooms, showers, grills, and bear-proof lockers. Its beautiful beaches, coves, wandering pathways, and towering green pines make it all worth it. Spend your visit kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking, or soaking in all the sights and sounds of nature.

Want to venture out to nearby areas? Rubicon Trail, Calawee Cove, and Lester Beach are all close by.

Standard campsites are $35 per night; lakeside sites are $45 per night. Book Here.

Meeks Bay Campground may be small, but its campsites, which are open to RVs and tents, have basic amenities, including restrooms, picnic tables, grills, and fire rings. It's also close to the beach, state parks, and all the amenities of the adjacent Meeks Bay Resort, like a general store and snack bar. If you need any supplies, you can also visit the nearby town of Tahoma.

The small beach at this Lake Tahoe campground is a family-friendly area with a lovely cove for kayaking or paddle boarding, with rental craft available if you don't have your own. Just know this area is jam-packed on holiday weekends, like much of Lake Tahoe.

Campsites at Meeks Bay Campground are $36 per night. The Meeks Bay Resort offers a variety of lodging options, from tent sites ($17 per night) to a 12-person lakefront mansion ($1,000 per night), depending on the season and location. Book Here.

READ MORE: 13 Beginner Mistakes to Never, Ever Make Camping