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How to Prepare for the Ultimate Lake Tahoe Camping Trip

Straddling California and Nevada, Tahoe is an alpine lake situated among the towering granite peaks and pine trees of the Sierra Nevada. While most of the surrounding area is overseen by the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit of the National Forest Service, a healthy chunk of it belongs to state and private parties. Campers will be pleased to know this means there are many different Lake Tahoe campgrounds to choose from, spanning a range of outdoor modes.

When you want to go, where you want to be, and what you want to do at Lake Tahoe is best to gauge which campground is best for you. While some camps are dedicated to dry land attractions like trailhead access to popular mountain biking and hiking trails, others are better suited for folks with paddleboard and kayaks in tow.

Those considering camping at Lake Tahoe while enjoying winter sports should be warned that staying outdoors in the region's often sub-zero weather is only advisable for the most experienced campers.

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Whether you're driving to the area in a motorhome in search of an RV site with things like full hookups and a dump station, or you're just pedaling through on a bike path hoping to rent a yurt with a lake view, the following guide should help you on your way.

When to Make Lake Tahoe Camping Reservations

Morning light illuminates high mountain scenery in California's Desolation Wilderness, not far from Lake Tahoe. This beautiful part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is popular for camping and hiking.

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Since the lake rests at over 6,000 feet, its waters are best enjoyed during the summer months, as winters get pretty cold. Since we're talking California and Nevada, summer can get pretty hot, so many visitors prefer to enjoy its biking, hiking, and climbing opportunities around the end of spring and/or the beginning of fall. As mentioned above, those interested in winter sports should very seriously consider lodgings like cabins, hotels, and other hearty resorts.

After you've decided on the arrival date, the best way to make camping reservations at Lake Tahoe campground is to visit their individual web pages or head over to the site.

Lake Tahoe Camping Sites

Amazing view of Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, California.

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South Lake Tahoe Camping

The majority of Lake Tahoe's campsites and attractions are located on and around its south bank. In addition to standard campsite features like fire rings and picnic tables, many have modern facilities that include things you might prefer like flush toilets, hot showers, and wifi. Your best resources are the campgrounds' individual websites and/or the site for a thorough account. Below is a list of some of the most popular South Lake Tahoe options:

Lake Tahoe Camping Nevada

While the California side of Lake Tahoe is just as brilliant as its Nevada half, the Silver State has one thing to offer that its Golden neighbor doesn't: casinos! Whether you're headed to the Nevada side for casinos, camping, or both, here are some top picks:

North Lake Tahoe Camping

For more remote tent camping opportunities, Lake Tahoe's northern campgrounds are your best bet. The majority of them are located on the California side and within walking distance of the lake. These are just a few of the most frequented:

Lake Tahoe Camping Tent Sites

All of the options listed above are available to tent campers. Suppose you don't mind a short drive or bike ride. In that case, you might also consider grounds like Donner Memorial State Park and the Silver Creek Campground to the north or the Lake Tahoe KOA to the South.

Lake Tahoe RV Camping

A Young Couple Parked Van at a Viewpoint of Lake Tahoe

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As with tent camping, each of the campgrounds above welcomes RVs. However, some do not have full hookups, dump stations, and other RV-friendly features. Be sure to check what's available and meets your preference before heading out.

Lake Tahoe Dispersed Camping

Dispersed camping is allowed in most national forests and federal land overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. While no dispersed camping is permitted in the immediate "Lake Tahoe Basin" area, nearby destinations, you might consider include Desolation Wilderness, Mt. Rose Wilderness, and Meiss County. For more information, visit the Forest Service website at

Where and when is your favorite time to camp in the Lake Tahoe area? Guide the way on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!

READ MORE: Never a Dull Moment Visiting the Famous Lake Tahoe