Lake Tahoe's camping scene is legendary. From waterfront drive-ins to hidden backcountry perches, there's something for every type of camper. But it's also a well-discovered paradise. Weekends can be busy. Campgrounds fill up quickly. The weather changes rapidly. Whether you're looking for a romantic overnight backpacking trip or a group extravaganza, below are a few tips that will help any trip be hassle-free.
Figure out what you want to do
Those who have the hardest time camping at Lake Tahoe are those who show up without a plan. Last minute sites at the established campgrounds can be very difficult to find, especially around holidays and weekends. Your best bet is to decide what type of camping you want to do, where you want to go, do some research and plan ahead.
Avoid weekends and holidays
If there's anyway to make it up to the lake outside of the busiest summer weekends, you have a much better shot at saving yourself a headache or two. If that's your only window, some campgrounds allow reservations. Or go by the old Tahoe motto, "Come early, stay late."
Bring your bike
Biking is the ideal way to get around in the summer. Many campgrounds are close to the bike paths, which offer access around towns on both the North Shore and South Shore. Riding will keep you out of traffic and in the fresh air. Bike parking is available at most shopping centers and beaches. Remember to wear your helmet and obey traffic signals.
Gear up for anything
Thunderstorms and extreme weather are regular occurrences in summer. Heck, it's snowed during every month of the year in Lake Tahoe. This means, those sleeping outside, need to be ready for anything. Make sure you have a sturdy tent with a rain fly. Don't leave your site a mess, because you may need to clean up in a hurry. If you're hiking, bring rain gear. Lastly, a deck of cards can be a godsend when the downpour starts.
Make a menu
If you're into eating hotdogs for days on end, then don't consider planning a menu for your trip. Camping menus organize your meals, make shopping easy and can be a lot of fun. Just because you're roughing it in the woods, doesn't mean you can't have a five-course meal. It can also help divide the work between different parties.
Thank a ranger
Rangers are the gatekeepers to the campgrounds, and they do a lot to make your stay clean, comfortable and easy. If you're polite and grateful towards them, they can offer great advice like which campsite to choose or when to hit the showers to avoid the line. Their jobs aren't easy, so please follow the rules and clean up after yourself and campmates. Happy camping!