Lake Tahoe Camping Guide: 12 Best Campsites Around the Lake

lake tahoe camping

The ultimate Lake Tahoe camping guide, including the best campsites around all four sides of the lake. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m a summer gal through and through. Swimming, BBQs, kayaking, fishing, hiking, cold watermelon – summer is my jam. 

If you’re like me and already planning your next summer vacation, you should consider Lake Tahoe, because it has all those things and more. 

Although a popular snow destination in the winter as well, Lake Tahoe is a prime camping destination in the spring, summer, and fall for a reason. 

Known for its turquoise waters, it’s America’s largest alpine lake, nestled in amongst the mountains and pine forests of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. 

With numerous state parks and abundantly beautiful natural settings, there are tons of options for camping near Lake Tahoe. 

Below, I’ve rounded up my top picks for the best Lake Tahoe camping sites for the perfect outdoor adventure this year. 

Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

camping in lake tahoe, california

Lake Tahoe Campsites Map


Get your FREE California Travel Planner – including printable checklists and my favorite two-week itinerary for the state. 


Best Time to Camp in Lake Tahoe

Best time to camp in lake tahoe

Both the spring and fall can be great times to camp with fewer crowds, but for the nicest weather, the best time to camp in Lake Tahoe is the summer. 

Early summer or late summer may be slightly less busy than peak summer (July). 

Regardless, you’ll want to make reservations at least a few months in advance since Lake Tahoe campgrounds fill up quickly. 

If you can, just avoid camping on holiday weekends in Lake Tahoe unless you love crowds and traffic. 

Best North Lake Tahoe Campgrounds

Lake Forest Campground


Address: 2504-2540 Lake Forest Rd, Tahoe City, CA 96145
Phone number: (530) 583-3796
Price: $25/night
Amenities: Pump water and portable restrooms
Why it’s worth camping at: it’s a great spot to snag a last-minute campsite. 

In an era of online reservations that sell out six months in advance, finding a summer campground in California that’s strictly first-come, first-served is a rarity. 

That’s why Lake Forest Campground is a breath of fresh air. 

It’s nice to have the option for a first-come, first-served campsite if you forgot to reserve months in advance or you just want to make a spontaneous trip to the lake. 

Lake Forest Campground is very simple, with 20 sites and no frills. But heck, the price is right at $25/night, and you’re right on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. 

Read our complete guide to North vs. South Lake Tahoe.

Best South Lake Tahoe Campgrounds

Camp Richardson Campground

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A post shared by Perry “Agent P” Louie (@agentpg33ktography)

Address: 1900 Jameson Beach Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150.
Phone number: (800) 544-1801
Price: $50/night Sun-Thurs, $55/night Fri-Sat for single tent sites.
Amenities: Two campgrounds, full-service RV park, bar and grill, marina, coffee house, equipment rentals. 
Why it’s worth camping at: Year-round lodging opportunities, a historic site, and right on the edge of Lake Tahoe.

Camp Richardson is a hundred-year-old historic resort located directly on the sandy beach of South Lake Tahoe. 

Unlike more primitive camping options around Lake Tahoe, Camp Richardson Campground has more of a deluxe, all-inclusive resort feel. 

In the summer, you can choose from several boat tour options of Lake Tahoe, rent mountain bikes, or go horseback riding. In the winter, Camp Richardson offers snowshoe and ski rentals.

If you’re looking to visit but don’t want to camp, Camp Richardson also offers cabins, a lodge called the Richardson House, a historic hotel, and a beachside inn. 

Camp Shelly

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Lea ✨ (@lea.in.wonderland)

Address: Mt. Tallac Rd A, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150. 
Phone number: (925) 373-5700
Price: $55/night Mon-Thurs, $60 Fri-Sun and holidays, with a $5 discount for residents.
Amenities: 25-site campground, bear-proof food lockers, RV and tent campsites, hot showers, flush toilets, and mobility accessible. 
Why it’s worth camping at: Intimate, family-friendly vibes in a quiet campground. 

Camp Shelly feels like a family tradition waiting to happen. 

The campground is small with just 25 sites and has a cozy, intimate atmosphere surrounded by the gorgeous pine forest. 

If you’re looking for a traditional camping experience, unplugged from society, I’d recommend Camp Shelly. 

All the sites at Camp Shelly come equipped with picnic tables as well as a food storage locker, which is a safe place to store food and scented items. 

While Camp Shelly is not directly on the beach, it’s darn close to it and the town of South Lake Tahoe. 

Upper Eagle Point Campground

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A post shared by Jessica Rabbit (@jessicarabbit_fit)

Address: 138 Emerald Bay Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Phone number: (530) 541-3030
Price: $35/night
Amenities: Two campgrounds, one boat-in campground, kayak rentals (Kayak Tahoe), hiking trails, RV sites (but no hookups), paid showers, flush toilets.
Why it’s worth camping at: Breathtaking viewpoints of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains make it one of the loveliest spots in an already beautiful landscape. 

Emerald Lake State Park was established in 1969 to preserve the beautiful scenery surrounding Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay. 

The park features a lakeside trail (Rubicon trail) that links to Vikingsholm and D.L. Bliss State Park. 

It also features one of the best campgrounds around Lake Tahoe – Upper Eagle Point Campground.

One really cool feature of this Emerald Bay camping spot is California’s first Maritime Heritage Underwater Trail. 

This “trail” is open to scuba divers and snorkelers who can explore the historic shipwrecks at the bottom of Emerald Bay. 

Fallen Leaf Campground

fallen leaf campground

Address: 2165 Fallen Leaf Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Phone number: (877) 444-6777
Price: $38/night or $40/night on holidays
Amenities: Tent sites, RV sites (no hookups), and a limited number of yurts, coin-operated showers, and flush toilets
Why it’s worth camping at: You get to enjoy a whole additional lake, Fallen Leaf Lake, in addition to Lake Tahoe. 

Fallen Leaf Campground sits on Fallen Leaf Lake and is less than one mile away from Lake Tahoe. The campground has 206 sites, including tent and RV sites, and six yurt sites. 

I appreciate this camping option because you can always swim, fish, or kayak right on Fallen Leaf Lake if Lake Tahoe is too busy! 

In addition to the lake opportunities, Fallen Leaf Campground is directly adjacent to the Taylor Creek Visitor Center, which offers ranger programs and guided walks. 

Best West Lake Tahoe Campground

William Kent Campground

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A post shared by Michael Gallagher (@mike1up5dn)

GPS coordinates: 39° 8′ 22.6644″ N, 120° 9′ 19.4796″ W
Phone number: (530) 583-3642
Price: $33 (+$2 for holidays)/night for tent sites or $90 (+$2 for holidays) for yurts
Amenities: Flush toilets, bear-proof food lockers, mobility-accessible sites, fire pits, grills, and picnic tables. 
Why it’s worth camping at: It’s a perfect spot for those planning mountain bike rides around the lake. 

The William Kent Campground is a bit unique in that it’s situated in a residential area near a busy highway. 

While this may make it an undesirable location for some, if you’re new to camping and feel wary of the idea of sleeping deep in the woods, this could be a great starter campground for you. 

The campground has over 80 sites including traditional tent sites, RV sites, and yurts. 

And despite the relatively urban location of the campground, dense vegetation around many of the campsites helps create a quieter, more secluded feel. 

The William Kent Campground is very popular as a day-use area. It’s also just under ten minutes to Lake Tahoe and offers excellent access to a popular bike path that goes around the lake. 

Sugar Pine Point Campground

Sugar Pine Point Campground

Address: 7360 W Lake Blvd, Tahoma, CA 96142
Phone number: (530) 525-9528
Price: $25/night in winter, $35/night in summer
Amenities: Tent and RV campsites (no hookups), RV dump station, bear-proof food locker, fire ring, flush toilets, coin-operated showers, mobility-accessible sites. 
Why it’s worth camping at: It’s open for winter camping!

Sugar Pine Point Campground is one of the few campgrounds around the Tahoe Basin open for winter camping. 

These campsites are first-come, first-served during the winter, but reservations are needed (usually far in advance) for summer camping. 

Sugar Pine Point Campground is located in Ed Z’berg-Sugar Pine Point State Park. 

The park includes two miles of lakefront access and is known for its preservation of the natural environment. 

General Creek also runs into Lake Tahoe from Ed Z’berg State Park and has some of the clearest water in the area. You can fish and swim in the creek in the summer, as well as hike along it. 

If you’re visiting in winter, cross-country skiing is popular, and the park grooms several miles of trails. Ranger programs are also held in the winter. 

Meeks Bay Campground in Meeks Bay Resort

Meeks Bay Campground

Address: 7941 Hwy 89, Tahoma, CA 96142
Phone number: (530) 525-6946
Price: $45/night in mid-summer, $35/night in early and late summer
Amenities: Tent sites, RV sites (full hookups), picnic table, fire ring, bear-proof food locker, flush toilets, hot showers, and water sports rentals.
Why it’s worth camping at: You get access to all the fun stuff at the Meeks Bay Resort and Marina. 

Meeks Bay Campground is an excellent location for those who want a one-stop-shop camping experience for the whole family. 

The campground at Meeks Bay Resort includes flush toilets and showers. And other parts of the property include a grill and a “beach toy rental” service that rents out paddleboards and kayaks. 

The resort property is a particularly good place for Lake Tahoe RV camping as the RV sites include full hookups, which is rare at other campsites. 

One thing to know about Meeks Bay is that there are no dogs allowed anywhere on the property and all campsites require a two-night minimum stay. 

D.L. Bliss State Park

D.L. Bliss State Park Camping

Address: 9881 CA-89, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Phone number: 530-525-7277 (D.L. Bliss Kiosk–Summer season only)
Price: $35 for regular sites, $45 for beach sites
Amenities: Family/group campsites, hike or bike campsites (i.e., walk-in sites), RV dump stations, picnic areas, fishing, visitor center with interpretive exhibits, beach area with swimming/snorkeling.
Why it’s worth camping at: Quiet and traditional camping experience surrounded by wilderness and sparkling turquoise water. 

Note: As of right now, D.L. Bliss State Park campgrounds are closed for the 2022 season for major maintenance repairs. However, I included it on this list so you can keep it on your radar for 2023.

D.L. Bliss State Park offers six campground options, including group sites, beach sites, RV compatible sites, and traditional tent camping options. 

At D.L. Bliss State Park, you can expect crystal blue water and brand new facilities after their recent bout of renovations. 

As a bonus, this state park is located adjacent to the Balancing Rock Nature Trail, a popular and scenic hiking spot, and Desolation Wilderness. 

Best East Lake Tahoe Campgrounds

Nevada Beach Campground

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Hailey♥ (@ello__j)

Address/GPS coordinates: Bittlers Rd, Zephyr Cove, NV 89448, or 38° 58′ 53.2704″ N, 119° 57′ 5.5440″ W
Phone number: (775) 588-5562
Price: $38 (+$2 for holidays)/night
Amenities: Tent and RV sites, flush toilets, ranger station, bear-proof food lockers, tables, fire pits, mobility-accessible sites. 
Why it’s worth camping at: A less busy atmosphere than most South Lake Tahoe campsites and located near some of Lake Tahoe’s most beautiful beaches.

Nevada Beach Campground is, perhaps unsurprisingly, located on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. 

The campground is located in a sparse forest of towering pines, which leaves good sight-lines to the lake. 

Nevada Beach is known as one of the widest beaches on the entire lake and one of the most beautiful. 

Plus, the overall feel of the campground is quiet, as the east side of Lake Tahoe is a little less busy than the south side. 

Zephyr Cove RV Park and Campground

Zephyr Cove RV Park and Campground

Address: 760 US Highway 50, Zephyr Cove, NV 89448
Phone number: (775) 589-4906
Price: $52-$67/night for tents and $82/night and up for RVs
Amenities: Tent sites, RV sites (full hookups), outdoor patio at campground offices, tables, fire rings, laundry, hot showers, flush toilets, vending machines, WIFI in main lobby and restaurant, and cable TV connections for RVs. 
Why it’s worth camping at: Unparalleled access to unique recreation activities like horseback riding and parasailing. 

The Zephyr Cove RV Park and Campground is located on the southeast shore of Lake Tahoe, with easy access to the beach. 

In addition to premium camping amenities like showers and WIFI (in the main lobby), the Zephyr Cove Resort offers beach volleyball, fishing, horseback riding, jet ski and boat rentals, lake cruise tours, snowmobile tours, and parasailing. 

Plus, don’t forget all the wildlife viewing opportunities inherent when visiting Lake Tahoe. 

Oh, and there’s also an on-site restaurant, bar, grille, and general store.

In addition to tent and RV camping, you can also opt to rent an airstream if you’re looking for more of a glamping experience. 

You can read more about this option in my article about glamping in California.

Campground by the Lake

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

A post shared by Campgrounds360 (@campgrounds360)

Address: 1150 Rufus Allen Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Phone number: (530) 542-6096
Price: $40/night for standard non-electric 
Amenities: Tent sites, RV sites (with hookups), dump station, hot showers (including accessible showers), firewood sales, first aid station, fire rings, picnic tables. 
Why it’s worth camping at: Prime access to South Lake Tahoe because you’re already in it!

Campground by the Lake is located in South Lake Tahoe, seconds away from the lake itself.

One of the benefits of camping right in South Lake Tahoe is the access to additional recreation opportunities, as well as plenty of nearby restaurants, bars, and amenities.   

We’re talkin’ ice rinks, swimming pools, horseback riding, and dining galore, all in easy walking distance from the campground. 

Campground by the Lake features traditional tent and RV sites, as well as cabins and group sites. 

Desolation Wilderness Camping

dispersed camping in desolation wilderness

The name “Desolation Wilderness” sounds a bit intense, doesn’t it? Fear not. 

The US Forest Service administers wilderness areas all over the country, and this one located inside El Dorado National Forest happens to be called Desolation Wilderness.

This wilderness area is vast at 63,960 acres with mostly dispersed camping, meaning there’s not much in terms of facilities or designated campsites. 

To camp in the Desolation Wilderness, you first need to obtain and pay for a permit, which gives you access to camp within a certain zone in the wilderness. 

Bear canisters, which are used by backpackers to store food, are available for free to rent. If you don’t rent one, you must bring your own. 

Dispersed Camping in Lake Tahoe

Dispersed camping in Lake Tahoe - mt rose wilderness

Some wilderness areas near Lake Tahoe don’t require permits or fees (aka they’re entirely free to camp at!).

Keep in mind that all of these areas still require the use of Leave No Trace principles. 

FAQs About Camping in Lake Tahoe

FAQs About Camping in Lake Tahoe

Are there bears in Lake Tahoe?

Yes, Lake Tahoe is home to a large and healthy population of American black bears. 

Tahoe residents take their bear safety very seriously and you should too when visiting Lake Tahoe. 

Before you go, learn how to keep your food and toiletries safe from bears, and know what to do if you see a bear

Can you camp for free in Lake Tahoe?

Given the number of wilderness areas around the lake, free camping in Lake Tahoe is not as hard to come by as you might think. 

Free camping, sometimes called dispersed camping or boondocking, just requires that you’re comfortable and competent camping without modern amenities. 

How much do campsites cost in Lake Tahoe?

The average cost for campsites in Lake Tahoe is around $35, but can be as high as $70/night or more depending on the number of amenities at the campground. 

Tips for Camping in Lake Tahoe

Tips for Camping in Lake Tahoe

Book Your Trip Early

Lake Tahoe camping reservations tend to book up early. Plan to make reservations around six months before your arrival date for the most popular areas. 

Also, keep in mind that many campgrounds are only open from about mid-May to mid-October. 

Prepare for Mountain Weather

Lake Tahoe is an alpine lake, meaning it’s located at or above the treeline in the mountains. 

Even in the heat of summer, nights in Lake Tahoe can cool down quite a bit. Check the weather before you go and bring more layers than you think you’ll need. 

Be Bear Aware

I can’t emphasize it enough; if you’re planning to visit Lake Tahoe, you need to prepare to encounter bears. 

American black bears are shy by nature and have never killed a person in all of California history. 

That said, once they see how easy it is to score calories from tourists, they can become uncomfortably persistent around campgrounds. 

What to Pack for Camping in Lake Tahoe

What to Pack for Camping in Lake Tahoe

Get your FREE California Travel Planner – including printable checklists and my favorite two-week itinerary for the state. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author bio - Meredith Dennis

Meredith Dennis

Meredith is a biologist and writer based in California’s Sierra Nevada. She has lived in six states as a biologist, so her intel on hiking and camping is *chef’s kiss* next level. One of her earliest camping memories was being too scared to find a bathroom at night on a family camping trip. Thankfully, she’s come a long way since then and she can help you get there too!


Looking for more Sierra Nevada travel inspiration? Check out these related posts below!

31 Things to do in Yosemite National Park

Experiencing the Yosemite Firefall

San Francisco to Yosemite: Best Ways to Get There & What to See on the Way

California Hot Springs Guide

18 Best Weekend Trips from San Francisco

Lake Tahoe Camping Pin 1

Pin this image for future reference

Mimi McFadden
Find Me
Lake Tahoe Camping Guide: 12 Best Campsites Around the Lake

Leave a Comment