If you're thinking of going camping at Lake Tahoe and have visions of pitching your tent at the water's edge, the first thing you need to know is that isn't going to happen. You can get close, though.
All of the Lake Tahoe campgrounds in this guide are on the south and west sides of the lake. Some are in Nevada, some are in California State Parks, the US Forest Service runs others, and some are privately owned. To get a better sense of them and where they are, check this Google map.
Unfortunately, no single system will let you check them all at the same time. For each campground, use the links below to check availability and reserve a spot.
What You Need to Know About Camping at Lake Tahoe
Many Lake Tahoe campgrounds are open only from mid-May to mid-September or mid-October. The season for each one is listed below.
If you're trying to make a camping reservation with only a few weeks — or days — to spare, you will probably find all the state-run campsites booked up. Instead, start with the privately owned campgrounds, then check the ones in the national forest.
Black bears visit many of the Lake Tahoe campgrounds, looking for food. Find out how to keep your campsite safe from them.
The campgrounds below are organized geographically, starting on the east shore in Nevada and going clockwise.
Zephyr Cove is a privately owned campground and resort located just across the street from the Zephyr Cove Resort. It is in on the east side of Lake Tahoe in the state of Nevada, less than 10 miles from the casinos in Stateline, NV and shopping and dining in South Lake Tahoe, CA.
Some of their sites have lake views, but none of them are next to the lake.
It has 93 RV sites that can accommodate vehicles up to 40 feet long. They have water, sewer, and cable TV hookups.
They also have tent sites that you can drive or walk into. The resort has a laundry, showers, and toilets.
You can reserve online at the Zephyr Cove website.
Nevada Beach is in a national forest full of pine trees and is run by the US Forest Service. It's at 6,100 feet elevation. Nevada Beach on Lake Tahoe is nearby, and you can get there by walking.
Campsites for tents and RVs are available. Many of them have lake views. The campground has flush toilets but no hookups.
For maximum privacy, choose a campsite on the loop farthest from the lake, where they are farther apart.
Up to two pets are allowed per site, but they can't go to the beach.
You can reserve up to six months in advance at the Nevada Beach website, but be sure the person who makes the reservation will be going there with you because they won't let anyone else check in for you. They charge an extra fee for a second vehicle.
Lake Tahoe KOA
The Lake Tahoe KOA is a privately owned campground about 5 miles south of the town of South Lake Tahoe and 9 miles from the casinos in Stateline, Nevada.
They have RV and tent sites, with and without electricity and water hookups.
Besides the campsites, they also have deluxe Kamping Lodge log cabins with real beds, kitchens, and bathrooms.
They also have a heated swimming pool from May through September. Pets are allowed for a small extra fee, but no tin the Chalet or Kamping Lodge.
You can reserve by phone or online at the Lake Tahoe KOA website. They recommend reserving as far in advance as possible to get your dream campsite.
This campground is closed from October 1 through April 1.
Fallen Leaf campground is in a national forest. The campsites are in a pine forest with no lake views, but Fallen Leaf Lake is close enough to walk to.
It has 206 sites that include RV sites, tent sites and town yurts (tent cabins). Coin-operated showers, water spigots and restrooms with flush toilets are provided.
Fallen Leaf is open from mid-May through mid-October.
You can make reservations up to 6 months in advance at the Fallen Leaf Campground website.
Emerald Bay State Park
Emerald Bay is a California state park. Its campground can accommodate trailers, campers, and motorhomes up to 18 feet long and is open only in the summer
The park also has a boat-in campground, the Emerald Bay Boat Camp, open in summer only.
You can get more information and make reservations at the Emerald Bay State Park website.
D. L. Bliss State Park
D.L. Bliss is a California state park.
It 150 family campsites. It's an easy walk from there to the edge of the lake, and it's also close to hiking trails. It has RV campsites for motorhomes up to 18 feet and trailers up to 15 feet — and an RV dump site. Restrooms and showers are available.
Dogs are allowed on a leash, but only in the campground, picnic areas and on paved roads. They can't go to the beach or off the road anywhere else.
D.L. Bliss closes in the winter, but nearby Sugar Pine Point Campground is open year round.
The biggest downside to your camping plans here is the California state park reservation system, which will require you to plan months ahead of time and set an alarm just to remember to do it at the right moment. You'll find details and tips in this guide to California State Park camping reservations.
You can get more information at the D.L. Bliss State Park website.
Wa She Shu Meeks Bay Resort
Meeks Bay Resort is privately owned and part of a resort that includes a lodge and cabins. That makes it a perfect place for groups who have varying ideas about where they want to sleep. The resort also has a restaurant.
The campground has RV sites with full hookups and tent sites with picnic tables. Restrooms and showers are provided.
Pets are not allowed anywhere in the resort.
The resort closes in from mid-May through mid-October. You can get details and make reservations at the Meeks Bay Campground website. Read all of their restrictions and refund policies before you reserve, so you don't get any unhappy surprises.
Ed Z'berg Sugar Pine Point State Park
Sugar Pine Point is a California state park. It is on the shore of Lake Tahoe, about 10 miles south of Tahoe City.
The park has more than 100 campsites, restrooms, and an RV dump station. It can accommodate trailers up to 26 feet long and RVs up to 32 feet.
Dogs are allowed on a leash no longer than 6 feet. They can't go into buildings, on unpaved trails or the beach.
To get reservations at Sugar Pine Point - especially during the busy season - you need to plan ahead and know a couple of tricks. You'll find that in this guide to California State Park camping reservations.
You can get more information at the Sugar Pine Point State Park website.
William Kent Campground
William Kent Campground is in a national forest. It has sites on both sides of the CA Hwy 89.
It has more than 80 sites, flush toilets, and drinking water, but no showers and no RV hookups.
You can reserve at the William Kent Campground website, but you need to know that the reservation holder has to be present when you check in.