The cobalt blue waters and turquoise bays lined with glorious stretches of beach make Lake Tahoe a dream destination for summer camping in California. Water sports, hiking trails and the surrounding mountains beckon campers, who come here to relax or find an adventure. Daytime temperatures are not oppressively warm, and nights are a wonderful temperature to sit around a campfire.
South Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful and popular areas around the lake. You’ll find private, city-governed, and government-run campgrounds, some of which have only a dozen or less campsites, and others that can accommodate 200 to 300 tents and RVs. Campgrounds are seasonal and only operate from spring to fall, usually from mid-May to mid-October, but some campgrounds have a more limited season depending on the year and conditions.
Read also: Campgrounds in Sedona
1 D.L Bliss State Park Campground
DL Bliss State Park has one of the most scenic locations on Lake Tahoe. A beautiful stretch of golden sand, bordered by scenic rock outcroppings, lines the water’s edge. The water is crystal clear and in the distance you can see the mountains on the other side. Kayakers can hit the beach and explore the shore, kids can play in the shallows, and hikers can access the popular Rubicon hiking trail right from the park.
The park’s campground sits high above the lake, with sites closest to the lake and glimpses of the water through the pine trees. The sites are in a heavily wooded area and are generally well spaced and private. The campsite is divided into five loops, all of which are more than acceptable. The Beach Camp Loop, with sites 142 to 165, is the closest to the beach and is the most desirable camping area in the park.
Official site: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=505
2 Meeks Bay Resort and Marina
If you’re looking for more amenities and a summer camp or resort-style atmosphere, the Meeks Bay Resort and Marina is the perfect choice. Along the waterfront of Meeks Bay is a large, crescent-shaped beach with shallow waters, perfect for young children. The beachfront resort is a full-scale operation, with cabins overlooking the lake, a beachfront restaurant, and a campground.
This is a large site with spacious sites, towering pine trees and easy access to the beach. The campground offers tent and RV sites, full hookups, some pull-through sites, and restrooms and showers. Pets are not accepted at this resort. Reservations should be made as far away as possible and accepted in the spring for the following summer, one year out.
Official Site: https://www.meeksbayresort.com/rv-tents/
3 Meeks Bay Campground
Located on the beach at Meeks Bay Beach Resort and Marina is the small, federally operated Meeks Bay Campground. This is a much quieter and more primitive camping experience than the resort, but is still on the same beautiful stretch of beach. Sites are large and bright, but generally quite close together. Large pine trees provide shade here and there, and some pitches have a nice view over the lake. The campground is relatively close to the highway, so traffic noise may be a factor. Amenities include toilets for toilets, but no showers. Sites are all backed in and have no hookups. RV sites can typically accommodate equipment 18 to 25 feet long, with a few exceptions for longer units. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance.
Official Site: https://www.reserveamerica.com/camping/meeks-bay/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=71664
4 Fallen Leaf Campground
If you don’t plan on camping along the lake, Fallen Leaf Campground is the perfect choice. Set amidst towering pines and surrounded by forest, this campground offers a wilderness experience. A short trail to Fallen Leaf Lake leaves from the campground and offers a nice escape from the crowds along Lake Tahoe, just under a mile away. Other trailheads in the area include Glen Alpine and Mt. Tallac, as well as the Moraine Trail, which departs directly from the campground.
Fallen Leaf Campground offers 200 tent and RV sites, as well as six yurts. Parking blocks are paved and some sites are see-through. Maximum length varies by campground, but some sites can accommodate very large units. Facilities include toilets. Reservations must be made in advance.
Official Site: https://www.recreation.gov/camping/fallen-leaf-campground/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=71531
5 Eagle Point Campground
Eagle Point Campground is located in Emerald Bay State Park, on a piece of land at the entrance to Emerald Bay. This scenic spot is a good base from which to explore the area. The trailhead for the Rubicon Hiking Trail, one of the most popular hikes at South Lake Tahoe, is located at this campground. Further down the highway is Eagle Falls, as well as more hiking trails.
This campground opens later in the season than many of the other campgrounds in the area. Sites are small and can accommodate tents, trailers up to 18 feet, and RVs up to 21 feet. Make sure the campsite you book is large enough to contain your equipment. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance.
Official site: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=506
6 Campsite on the lake
Located in the center of South Lake Tahoe, Campground by the Lake is ideal for visitors who are simply here to enjoy the lake, beaches, and town. Large pine trees provide plenty of shade, but a lack of ground cover, particularly in locations closest to the lake, means campers have little privacy. The sparkling blue lake can be seen through the trees of many of the campsites.
This large campground is operated by the City of South Lake Tahoe. The 178 locations are suitable for tents and campers in almost all sizes. Loop A has full connections and Loop B has electrical connections only. The campsite has Wi-Fi and mobile phone reception, which is a great advantage for campers who want to stay connected. Nearby are a public playground, basketball courts and a heated swimming pool, which is accessible for a small fee. It is also pet-friendly, with a maximum of three dogs per site.
Official site: https://www.cityofslt.us/index.aspx?nid=270
7 Bayview Campground
Directly across the highway from Inspiration Point Lookout on Emerald Bay is the small Bayview Campground. For walkers and tourists, it’s hard to beat this fantastic location. You can hike from this campground to some of the most popular hiking trails in the area, including Cascade Falls/Cascade Lake, Granite Lake, and on to other connecting trails that run through Desolation Wilderness. It is just off Highway 89 so traffic noise is a factor. However, considering parking can be very difficult to find along this beautiful stretch. Being able to reach many of the locations on foot is a great advantage. You cannot see Emerald Bay from the campsite, but there are views through the large trees to the surrounding mountains.
This campground has 12 first-come, first-served campsites, which can accommodate tents and small RVs. Facilities include pit toilets and each campsite has a picnic table, fire pit, barbecue and food storage area.
8 Campings in Camp Richardson Historic Resort and Marina
Just west of South Lake Tahoe, Camp Richardson Historic Resort and Marina is a large operation with several lodging options, including a hotel, cabins, and three campgrounds. Two campgrounds, Eagle’s Nest and Badger’s Den, offer more than 100 tent sites. The separate RV Village, complete with full hookups, can accommodate approximately 100 RVs. The convenient waterfront location and full range of on-site amenities, from a shop and restaurant to sports equipment rentals, make this a great choice for families. However, they do not accept pets.
Official site: https://www.camprichardson.com/lodging-a-camping
9 Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park Campground
Ed Z’Berg Sugar Pine Point State Park is about a 40-minute drive northwest of South Lake Tahoe, just north of Meeks Bay. It is located on a beautiful piece of land on the edge of Lake Tahoe. The park’s best-known feature is the Ehrman Mansion, but its real charm is its setting. Tall pines line the rocky shoreline and overlook the shallow, turquoise waters that fade to a shimmering dark blue color before reaching the mountains across the lake.
The campground is well back from the water and across the highway from the lake, just under a mile from the main area of the park. The camping area is heavily treed with large pines, which block much of the light and leave the campsites a bit dark. Most sites are very large and well spaced. This is woodland camping and the site is not near the lake, but a walking track connects the site to the water’s edge. Amenities include toilets with a sink, showers and a dump station for trucks. Trailers up to 26 feet and RVs up to 32 feet are accepted.
Official site: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=510
Where to Stay in South Lake Tahoe When Campgrounds Are Closed or Full
South Lake Tahoe’s hotel choice leans heavily toward the midpoint of quality, though prices are often quite high at peak times. Below are some highly rated mid-range and budget hotels:
- Mid-range hotels:Located at the top of the middle of town, the Deerfield Lodge at Heavenly is a newly renovated hotel known for its excellent customer service. Rooms come in a variety of sizes, including suites with full kitchens, and the hotel is pet-friendly. This property is conveniently located between Heavenly Ski Hill and downtown South Lake Tahoe. Within walking distance of the beach and restaurants, the 7 Seas Inn at Tahoe features elegantly decorated rooms and suites. Fireplaces in some rooms make this a cozy option on cool evenings, and the outdoor hot tub is perfect for cooling off. Americana Village is a great choice, with a large outdoor pool and spacious rooms and suites with kitchenettes. For a mid-range beachfront location, you can’t beat the Beach Retreat & Lodge at Tahoe, with two on-site restaurants; beautiful common areas; and large rooms, including some with partial lake views and fireplaces.
- Budget Hotels : With a mix of different sized rooms and suites, the Big Pines Mountain House of Tahoe is a good choice for all types of budget travelers, including families and groups. Some rooms have kitchenettes, and breakfast is included in your stay.With a little less atmosphere but clean, simple rooms, the Matterhorn Motel is another good option for budget-conscious travelers.
Explore more camping and outdoor destinations in California
- Camping: Within a day’s drive of Lake Tahoe are some of California’s most epic camping destinations. Find the best campgrounds in the timeless forests of giant sequoias in Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. Pitch your tent or RV among the towering redwoods of Redwood National and State Parks. You can also head south to the desert and find the best places to camp in the surreal landscape of Joshua Tree National Park.
- Hiking: Make the most of your hiking time with our guides to the best hikes in South Lake Tahoe, the best hikes in Yosemite National Park, the best hikes in Redwood National and State Parks, and the best hiking trails in California. If you happen to be heading to Las Vegas, also check out our article on the best hikes near Las Vegas.