Nature and history collide on South Lake Tahoe camping trips offering mountain and water recreation.
The South Lake Tahoe basin’s clear blue waters and towering vistas draw visitors year-round. Heavy winter snowfall can create an enchanting place for cabin stays and snowsports, while visiting South Lake Tahoe in the warmer months means opportunities to enjoy even more thrilling activities associated with this mountainous region—think lakefront tent sites and RV parks that give campers easy access to water sports, beaches, hiking, and trail biking. Visit South Lake Tahoe for camping experiences among the woodlands, hills, rises, gorges, and canyons of the Sierra Nevada range.
Encompassing seven miles of Lake Tahoe’s shoreline, the D.L Bliss State Park Campground offers tent and RV camping with water activities centered on the lake’s natural beauty. Scuba divers can visit the underwater shipwreck preserve in Emerald Bay, tent campers can set up camp steps from the water, and watersport enthusiasts can launch kayaks from the shore. A few simple RV sites allow RVers to take advantage of a dump station and enjoy grilled trout caught in the crystal waters and shared around picnic tables at each site. Elsewhere in the park, hike the self-guided nature trail to wonder at Balancing Rock, or experience the grandeur of Sierra Nevada upheaval promontories overlooking the lake.
With two major highways running through Eldorado National Forest, getting into the woods is easy from Lake Tahoe, Sacramento, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Fish in the rivers and streams once teeming with gold prospectors, or ski down the alpine backcountry into lush meadows. Over 50 modern campsites, cozy cabins, hiking trails, and primitive backcountry camping opportunities await exploration in the forest’s Mokelumne and Desolation Wildernesses.
Meeks Bay Campground is a federally operated camping area nestled between two Tahoe state parks: D.L. Bliss and Sugar Pine Point. Primitive tent camping and RV sites (without hookups) are available with the added bonuses of fire pits and raised barbecues. Close campsites among the pine trees facilitate sharing and camaraderie between campers staying in one of the most popular spots near South Lake. Boat on the lake one day, and bike on the trails the next.
The largest Lake Tahoe state park, the west shore’s Sugar Pine Point State Park includes 2,000 acres of evergreen forest, including cedar, aspen, and fir, plus more than 100 campsites in summer. Besides the easy lake access and diverse plant, bird, and wildlife watching opportunities at the Edwin Z’berg Natural Preserve, Sugar Pine Point also offers winter camping for a snowy experience and guided moonlit snowshoe tours in late winter or early spring.
Summers in Lake Tahoe rarely top out at 90°F, usually only twice per year and generally toward the end of July and August. The warmest days of the year start in June, making swimming, water skiing, fishing, and kayaking draws to the area. If you’re looking for a quieter time, the highland climate of Lake Tahoe begins to cool in September, offering chillier nights perfect for snuggling around a campfire. Meanwhile, winter camping in Tahoe may only be for hardy campers, but ski chalets and cozy cabins are prime during this time of year.