Lake Tahoe Basin, located about 110 miles east of Sacramento, at 6300 feet elevation, has enchanted visitors and residents for centuries with the magnificent sapphire waters of Lake Tahoe (measuring 22 miles long by 12 miles wide, with 72 miles of shoreline) and with the vast forests, alpine lakes and granite walls that mark the region.
Cradled between the northern Sierra Nevada and the Carson Range, hundreds of thousands of acres of protected lands surround Lake Tahoe Basin. In fact, 75% of the area around Lake Tahoe (about 150,000 acres) is public land managed by United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. In the wilderness areas along the lakeshore ("wilderness" being relative to the area's immense popularity), there are more than 2 dozen public and private campgrounds that provide perfect base camps for hiking, biking, swimming and climbing expeditions.
Generally, campgrounds open between late April and late May with closures beginning in mid-September through October. High season: July and August. No open campgrounds during winter season, although national forest and state park land are open with seasonal hours for winter recreation.
Camping Areas in Lake Tahoe Basin
Lake Forest Campground
Location: 1.5 miles northeast of Tahoe City, CA, off Highway 28 on Lake Forest Road.
- 20 sites that provide access to basic amenities, such as potable water and toilets. No showers on-site.
- Located next to the only boat launch on the North Shore. No RV dump station. (These are hard to find at North Shore campgrounds.)
- 20 foot maximum length for RVs.
- Length of Stay: 10 day maximum per site.
- Fees: $20/site (available first come, first served).
East Shore: Nevada Beach Campground
Location: 2 miles north of California/Nevada state line on Highway 50. Head north on Elks Point Road for 1/4 mile.
- 54 sites that provide access to amenities, including potable water, flush toilets, fire rings and firewood for purchase.
- Premium sites are available and offer beach front access for swimming.
- Dogs allowed with restrictions. Maximum 2 pets per site. No dogs on beach.
- Length of Stay: Limit 6 people per site with no declared maximum stay.
- Fees: Rates vary depending on dates. Expect to pay in the range of $34.50-$40.50 per night.
- Call (775) 588-5562 for information or book online.
South Shore: Campground By the Lake
Location: 115 Rufus Allen Blvs, off Highway 50, in South Lake Tahoe, CA.
- More than 80 sites that provide access to full amenities, including RV dump station and close proximity to civic services, such as historical museums and county library.
- WiFi service.
- Group sites and tent cabins available.
- Length of Stay: Maximum 14 day stay. 6 people and 1 vehicle (auto or RV) limit per site.
- Fees: Range from $30-$46
- Call (530) 542-6069 for reservation information or Reserve Online
West Shore: General Creek Campground
Location: In Sugar Pine Point State Park, 10 miles south of Tahoe City, CA, on Highway 89
- 150 sites that provide access to full amenities, including showers and RV dumps stations, in addition to State Park facilities, which include a nature center and historical site (Ehrman Mansion), as well as trails and beach front.
- WiFi service.
- Dogs allowed but with prohibitive regulations regarding trails, beaches, and leashes.
- Length of Stay: Vary depending upon dates; 8 people, 2 vehicle maximum.
- Fees: $35.
- Call Sugar Pine Point State Park at (530) 525-7982 or Reserve Online
West Shore: William Kent Campground
Location: 2 miles south of Tahoe City on Highway 89.
- 84 sites that provide access to basic amentities, such as potable water and toilets. No showers.
- Lake access at day use area across the road.
- 2 pets per site with no pets on beach.
- Length of Stay: Maximum varies depending up on dates; 6 people per site.
- Fees: $29.50-$31.50 per night with additional fees for electricity and water hook-ups.
- Call the Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin Land Management Unit at (530) 543-2600 for information or Reserve Online.