The Ultimate Lake Tahoe Camping Guide

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Campgrounds in Lake Tahoe

Fresh alpine air, starry nights around the campfire, sips of hot coffee during a sunrise over the lake—there’s simply nothing like camping in Lake Tahoe. Generally open from mid-May to mid-October, Lake Tahoe’s campgrounds make the perfect home base for exploring all the epic around the basin. 

You’ll find that there’s camping options all around the lake, from North Shore to South, and in typical Lake Tahoe fashion, each has a personality all its own. Discover the best Lake Tahoe camping here; then pack up the camping gear, ice down the cooler and come explore! 


South Lake Tahoe Campgrounds

Campgrounds in South Lake Tahoe, CA tend to be larger and more family-oriented. Think full hookups and convenience stores, RV turnarounds and on-site rentals. Snag a place on the south shore if ease and accessibility are an important piece of your camping puzzle. (TLDR? Fallen Leaf Lake is our favorite spot.)

Fallen Leaf Campground 

Located at the base of its namesake lake, Fallen Leaf Campground is a crowd favorite for its close proximity to both Fallen Leaf Lake, the city of South Lake Tahoe and Lake Tahoe herself. With a loop of 206 RV and tent sites tucked onto national forest land, plus basic amenities like flush toilets, fire pits and grills, it’s the perfect choice for families looking to enjoy the area. 

Fallen Leaf Lake is home to some of Lake Tahoe’s best camping. But, it’s important to know—although there’s spacious drive-through sites for your RV, this one is far from a standard RV park in that there’s no full hookups.

But honestly? We don’t care! One day of hiking to Fallen Leaf Lake with your pets, or biking down to Lake Tahoe and you’ll agree. It’s all worth it.

Camp Shelley - Camping in South Lake Tahoe

Camp Shelley

With only twenty-five individual campsites, Camp Shelley is a much more intimate campground than some of its nearby neighbors. Even so, your campsite here will be comfortable and well-equipped with parking, a fire pit, picnic table, grill and nearby restroom facilities with flush toilets and hot showers.

Just on the other side of Hwy 89, Camp Shelley offers classic forest camp vibes all at just about 1.5 miles from Lake Tahoe. You’ll be one of the lucky few that can walk or bike down to the water without waiting in traffic or paying for parking.

RV campers—little ol’ Shelley is basic amenities only. You’ll have to look elsewhere for full hookups.


 Campground by The Lake 

If you’re looking to be in the middle of it all, Campground By The Lake is undoubtedly your spot. Directly on Lake Tahoe Blvd, a massive loop holds 50 full-hookup and 120 non-hookup sites that sit directly across from the lake and squarely in-between some of the best restaurants, shops and cafés in South Lake Tahoe, CA.

Since it’s operated by the City of Lake Tahoe, all of the city’s recreation facilities neighbor the campground. For a small daily fee, you can access the swim complex, gymnasium and more. Campground By The Lake is an excellent spot for campers that want a more classic RV park experience. A stay here is equal parts camping and comfort.

Lake Tahoe Campground
Image by Flickr user jcookfisher

Camp Richardson

A Tahoe landmark all of its own, Camp Richardson boasts over 300 tent and RV sites, plus cabins and vacation rentals galore. Choose a site at one of two excellent campground locations; one on the lakeside of Hwy 89, and the other tucked into the forest across the road.

Camp Richardson is like the holy grail of South Lake Tahoe campgrounds. It’s a Tahoe institution—with a lakefront restaurant, marina, general store, ice cream parlor, mountain sports center and coffee shop (whew!) all located on the property.

It’s the dream option for families that want to park the car, set up shop and not worry about traveling around. It really offers resort living in a forest setting, with more outdoor recreation than you could imagine.

North Shore Campgrounds

Known for being more low-key than South Lake Tahoe, the north shore has a notably less of a ‘busy’ feel to it. Contained mostly to a highway that snakes along the lake’s edge, there’s a more residential vibe here, accounting for less people and consequently, fewer campgrounds. (And not even one RV park.)

Tahoe State Recreation Area

Located just outside of Tahoe City, the Tahoe State Recreation Area campground is one of the rare camping options for visitors on the northern edge of Lake Tahoe. With only 23 sites, it’s the kind of spot you’ll have to plan ahead for—but claiming a scenic campsite just a few feet from the lake alongside a mellow bike path leading into town will make it all worth it.

Although campsites here are comfortable, there’s no hookups or dump stations available. Of course, swapping out the RV for a simple home base is easy to do when you’re so close to the area’s best beaches, restaurants and activities.

Lake Forest 

A refreshing take on camping, Lake Forest Campground is a primitive property available on a first-come, first-serve basis. That’s right y’all. No reservations. While the amenities are admittedly basic—pump water and portable toilets only—the location and price make this spot a true diamond in the rough.

Located just outside of Tahoe City and operated by the Tahoe City Public Utility District, this modest 20-site campground is no-frills in all the right ways. Close to the lake, close to the town, and close to Mother Nature, there’s still a lot to love even (or perhaps, especially) if a dip in the lake is the only shower you can expect. 

East Lake Tahoe Campgrounds

Decorated with some of the area’s most picturesque stretches of lakefront, the east shore is small but mighty. As a reminder, this side of the lake is in Nevada—not California. And let me tell ya, Nevada is holding. The wildly beautiful Zephyr Cove and the hard-to-believe-its-real Sand Harbor state park, are here, alongside two of our favorite campgrounds.

Zephyr Cove Campground Lake Tahoe
Image from Zephyr Cove Resort

Zephyr Cove Resort 

At the south eastern corner of Lake Tahoe, you’ll find Zephyr Cove Resort and Campground, a magical, full-service campground that’s perfect for RV and tent campers alike. With 93 RV, 47 walk-in and 10 drive-in sites hugging the shoreline at Zephyr Cove, it’s about as good as it gets for a family-friendly camping trip.

Although campsites are hidden in the forest between boulders and towering pines, there’s plenty of modern comforts to be enjoyed. The campground offers bathrooms, showers and full hookups (with cable!), while the resort features an on-site restaurant, marina, rentals and more.

Note: Zephyr Cove Resort and Marina is one of Lake Tahoe’s only year round campgrounds. It’s always popular, so make reservations early!

Nevada Beach Campground

With dozens of tent and RV sites (no hookups, though!) sitting just steps from the sprawling lakefront, Nevada Beach Campground is a well-loved choice for summer vacationers. In an excellent location south-east shore of the lake, this campground has the basics—flush toilets, campfire rings and grill.

The neighboring Nevada Beach boasts one of the lake’s largest stretches of sand, plus one of the area’s best dog-friendly beaches. Some sites sit just feet from the sand. The rest of them are tucked back in the forest, but still an easy stroll away.

West Shore Campgrounds

Home to a staggering majority of the area’s campgrounds, the west shore promises plenty to explore with endless hiking, quiet wilderness and quaint shops. You’ll be near miles of national forest land, plus can’t miss favorites like Emerald Bay, Vikingsholm, the Rubicon Point Lighthouse and Sugar Pine Point State Park. In short, there’s a lot to delight campers here and it’s always worth a stay. 

Calawee Cove - Lake Tahoe Campground
Image by Flickr user ray_explores

DL Bliss 

A true campground gem on the west side of the lake, DL Bliss State Park is a mountain oasis with a little bit of it all: pristine beaches, winding pathways, secluded coves and a picture-perfect forest of thick, green pines. We’d even call it some of the best camping in California—with everything from kayaking to sunrise hiking steps from your sleeping bag.

The sites at DL Bliss are fairly small and equipped with basic amenities only. While there’s no hook-ups, campers have access to restrooms and showers, grills and bear-proof storage lockers. But with natural highlights like Lester Beach, Rubicon Trail and Calawee Cove all so near, the amenities hardly matter. 

Eagle Point 

With a location like this one, it’s not hard to understand why Eagle Point Campground reservations sell out six to seven months in advance. Perched at the edge of Emerald Bay with spectacular views, a private beach and the famed Rubicon Trail winding through the nearby forest, a stay here ensures your trip is filled with all the natural wonder you can handle.

 A basic campground with small, sometimes unlevel sites, it’s best suited to tent camping, although trailers and RVs are welcome in certain sites. There’s no hook-ups here, but there are hot pay-showers in newly renovated restrooms.

(Looking for more Emerald Bay camping details? We share the goods—like the difference between the upper loop and lower loop—plus more campground options in our dedicated guide to Emerald Bay Camping.)

Meeks Bay 

Image by Meeks Bay Resort

A small, sandy campground just steps from the beach, Meeks Bay deserves a spot at the top of any beach lover’s summer camping list. Sprawled beside an accessible, family-friendly stretch of sand, you can stash kayaks and paddleboards at your campsite, then walk them down for a midday float or sunset paddle.

As for the campground itself, it’s small but functional and equipped with the basics—fire rings, picnic tables, BBQ’s and restrooms. Plus, you’re close to the West Shore’s state parks, and if you run out of coffee or crave a cold beer, you’ll find that Tahoma is just a quick drive down the road.

Meeks Bay Resort

Another excellent option for those looking to enjoy the gentle shoreline of Meeks Bay, the campgrounds at Meeks Bay Resort and Marina offer well maintained sites in a convenient beachfront location.

Despite the resort title, the campground is basic, with common amenities like BBQs, restrooms and coin-operated showers. There is, however, an on-site snack bar and general store to help satisfy snack cravings and last-minute food runs on those sunkissed beach days.

One thing to keep in mind—pets are not welcome on the resort property. So if you have pets that love to camp, you might want to look elsewhere! 

Sugar Pine Campground Lake Tahoe

Sugar Pine Point State Park 

Sharing the name of the state park it neighbors, Sugar Pine Campground sits steps away from the west shore’s beaches and trails, and offer a charming dose of Tahoe history. The campgrounds center around the Ehrman Mansion, but there’s also two miles of lake frontage, plus nearly endless trails winding through native pine, aspen and fir trees.

Campsites here come with the usual—tables, campfire rings and food storage containers—plus fresh drinking water, flush toilets, showers and an on-site campground host. All-in-all, it’s one of Tahoe’s best state parks and not to be missed.

Note: Pets are allowed on paved walkways only in all of Sugar Pine Point State Park.

Kaspian 

A rustic campground with just nine tent only sites, it could be argued that a stay at Kaspian Campground requires a certain taste. Yes, your site is a flight of stairs away from your car and you’ll have to do without a shower—but what you sacrifice in amenities, you gain in authenticity.

With no RVs or trailers, van-lifers or generators, your time at Kaspian Campground will be filled with mementos of camping as it once was. Of course, there’s still flush toilets, campfire rings and grills, plus a camp host to help with anything you may need. Plus, you’re just across the roadway from a bike path and the beach.

William Kent 

Sitting just two miles outside of Tahoe City, William Kent Campground is an excellent choice for travelers that crave a little bit of it all. Nestled in a pine forest across the highway from the lake, you’ll be able to access nearby beaches and trails, nature and metropolis with equal ease.

Despite the proximity to town, sites at William Kent make for a quiet retreat. You’ll find the usual perks, including picnic tables, fire pits and grills at the campground, plus flush toilets and fresh water, all tucked in the forest beneath a halo of trees.


A note on reservations: While we’d love for your experience to be pure and spontaneous, that won’t always be the case. The four season weather makes year round camping nearly impossible, so the campgrounds are totally packed in the summer.

Our advice? PLAN AHEAD. Months ahead. Be prepared to lock in your reservations six months prior. It’s brutal, but when that arrival date rolls around, you’ll be so happy that you planned it. We promise that camping in Lake Tahoe is always worth the wait.

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