Lake Tahoe Camping

Lake Tahoe is a camping and adventuring paradise. There are three types of camping available to recreators in Lake Tahoe, backpacking, national forest 4X4 camping, and state park camping.  For this article we will go over our top three of each. Here at Tahoe Rental Management we believe the best way to enjoy the luxury of a beautiful house is to sleep in the woods before you get there! Please remember to practice ‘Leave No Trace’ ethics and respect the different rules and regulations of the managing boards. All of the trail heads discussed below are labeled on the map at the bottom. Happy adventuring!

Backpacking (Labeled in Blue)

Backpack-in camping in Lake Tahoe is the best way to see the Sierras and avoid the masses. Your area options are Tahoe National Forest, Desolation wilderness and Granite Chief Wilderness. With these three zones at your disposal the options are unlimited, but here are 3 of our favorites. Please follow the link below to learn more about the rules and regulations associated with each.

Tahoe National Forest

Desolation Wildernes

Granite Chief Wilderness

1. Aloha Lake, Desolation Wilderness, South Lake Tahoe

This big beautiful alpine lake is surrounded by white granite peaks with tons of tiny granite islands perfect for jumping from. From the Fallen Leaf Lake trailhead it is a little over a 12 mile loop with some pretty substantial elevation gain and loss. It is very easy to turn this into a multi-night adventure by leaving a car at either Emerald Bay or Meeks Bay trailheads.  More info

2. Five Lakes Basin, Granite Chief Wilderness, Alpine

This is a short but steep trip up to 5 beautiful small lakes in close proximity to each other. The trial can be quite crowded at times but once you are up there it is very easy to escape the crowds.  This is a very popular dog hike so we suggest choosing a campsite a bit off the beaten path to avoid too many dog visitors to your tent and leaving their mark if you know what I mean! More Info

3. Paradise lake, Tahoe National Forest, Donner Summit

Although Paradise Lake is just outside of the Lake Tahoe basin, it still embodies everything Tahoe has to offer. Paradise is a hanging lake situated on the saddle of two peaks with great swimming and fishing. It is a 15 mile round trip (11 if you have a 4X4 vehicle) with amazing views and great wildflowers. More info

4X4 Camping (Labeled in Orange)

Off road camping in Lake Tahoe comes in all different levels of difficulties and distance, therefore we chose to outline three of our favorite areas in the basin to put the truck to work. Just remember that if you are in National Forest you can generally camp wherever you would like, but if you are on private land, such as PG&E, you need to follow their rules and regulations. We strongly suggest hitting a local shop and purchasing a map! These areas are a maze of trials and topo lines can be very helpful in deciding the best rout. If you would like a more specific list of trails in the Lake Tahoe area here is a great website.

1. Blackwood Canyon Sno-park, Tahoe National Forest, Sunnyside

During the winter months this park is a snow activity mecca, but once the gate opens at the bottom around June 1st, wheeled toys have their turn. Take the paved road until it ends and then pick a dirt road, enjoy the views, and drive till you find a great place to camp. This trail network also eventually links up with the infamous Rubicon trail.

Rubicon Trial Info

Blackwood Canyon Info

2. The 06 Fire Road, Granite Chief Wilderness, Truckee

There are a lot of ways to access this area of Granite Chief Wilderness but the best is from the 06 fire access road. If you have ever wanted to off-road from Truckee to Tahoe City it is certainly the best way to avoid traffic! There is some rough driving to be found, but for the most part it is maintained dirt roads. Just pick a place that looks good and call it home for the night. The link below is for a mountain bike loop but it does the best job of describing the terrain and how to get there. More Info

3. Kidd Lake, PG&E Land/Tahoe National Forest, Donner summit

Kidd lake is a great off-road camping destination. The drive to the lake is a well maintained dirt road, but the surrounding National Forest is full of more challenging drives. You can either camp in the campground by the lake or find another spot in the forest.  More Info

State park Camping (Labeled in Yellow)

Camping in an established campground is fun and easy for the whole family. We chose the places below because they are a short walk to a nice beach and have a full range of facilities. When planning your trip make sure to keep in mind that these places fill up fast in the summer so book ahead of time or get there early. Alo remember to observe all of the rules associated with bears in these campgrounds… think Yogi The Bear but your car is the picnic basket!

1. D.L. Bliss, State Park, South Lake Tahoe

This State park has everything you need in a camping adventure: great hiking, bouldering, rock jumping, a beautiful sandy beach, and big trees. Bring some items to enjoy the water and kick back and relax. More Info 

2. Zephyr Cove, Private Resort, Glenbrook 

This urban-style campground is a great place for the whole family, including the furry 4-legged members. Camping options rang from RV hookups, cabins, and tent sights. The resort has a lodge with a restaurant, Starbucks, and wedding venue, but when you are in the camping area or on the beach you feel very secluded. The far north side of the beach is a dog beach (Best Dog Beaches Lake Tahoe) and has a nice nature walk. More Info

3. Lake Forest Campground, Tahoe Public Utility District, Tahoe City

This campground is fairly close to the main road but it is also has large sights and is a short walk to a quiet beach and park combo. You are also right next to an amazing bike path that stretches up the west shore and down the Truckee river to Squaw Valley. This is also a great place to bring your boat or kayak. More Info