Where to go winter camping in Lake Tahoe?

I am planning to take my family and my puppy to do some winter camping this thanksgiving. I am planning to bring them to Lake Tahoe. It is my first time in the last 10 years to go camping. I am a beginner at this. I was wondering if anyone has some recommend campground. And also what to expect in winter camping? I don't think there will be too much snow, but it might be raining during the end of November. I read some review on Zephyr Cove Campground, and they had some horrible reviews. Any advices? Thanks.


Thanks for all the concerns. Two of my friends are experienced in winter camping, but they never camp in Lake Tahoe before. They normally go farther north to camp, but I wanted to camp somewhere around the lake, so I can get some nice sightseeing.

Update 2:

Thanks for all the advices. I will see how the weather is first before I make my reservation.

5 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I'm a frequent winter camper and I spend a lot of time at Tahoe too. There are a few Tahoe area campgrounds that sometimes stay open in the winter, try Sugarpine Cove, Emerald Bay and Fallen Leaf Lake for some of the more scenic locations. The one risk about these areas (all on the west shore of Tahoe) is that part of Hwy 89 in this area is succeptable to closing during storms.

    Another option a little further south is Grover Hot Springs State Park just outside of Markleeville. Grover is definitely open during the winter and the campground itself is pretty quiet. The top draw of this nice spot is the Hot Springs pool which is also open all year. It's a great place to relax after a hike, snowshoeing or skiing.

    As for the weather, expect anything from sunny and mild to cold and rain to light snow to Blizzard. I've camped at Tahoe in all of these conditions and they are all manageble, but I'd say the worst would be the cold and rainy. Temps will likely drop into the low 20's to upper teens but could drop into single digits but rarely drop below zero with the exception of a few inversional valleys (Hope Valley, Martis Valley, Truckee...).

    As far as dealing with the conditions, be prepared for any weather, you're car camping so might as well bring plenty of extra clothes. If you have a down jacket, bring it but don't count on it if it's raining. Bring a parka or other rain jacket which you'll need if it's raining or if the snow is falling wet. Be prepared to layer underneath your jackets. Bring tarps to provide extra shelter so you don't have to hide in your tent if it's raining or if wet snow is falling. Arrange the tarps so that they cover the picnic table as well as provide some shelter near the campfire. There are some telescoping poles that are great for putting up tarps, get about 4-8 of them and use them and the trees to guy out the tarps. Bring lots of firewood too. Insulated boots and gloves are also a must.

    If you end up camping at the lake, check out Vikingsholm and Eagle Falls which are both on the west shore. If the weather is good, there are a lot of nice trails going up into Desolation Wilderness. If you decide on Grover, consider hiking or snowshoing near Pickett Junction or Hope Valley and if the weather is good, head up to Carson Pass and hike to Winnemucca Lake in Mokelumne Wilderness.

    Source(s): Winter camping in the Tahoe area the last 8 years while skiing the area's resorts.
  • Wayner
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    If it's true that you haven't camped in 10 years, I would NOT camp at Tahoe at Thanksgiving. More than likely, there will be snow (and the Forest Service campground maybe closed).

    Snow camping (and winter camping in general) is a tricky endeavor. It's not something to be taken lightly - it can be REALLY uncomfortable.

    If you want to try out camping after such a long hiatus, try something this spring.


    Well, given that, I would again say that I think all of the developed campgrounds at Tahoe on Forest Service land are closed by then (see URL below). But that shouldn't stop you from doing some primitive camping on some Forest Service land. There are two wilderness areas in the Humbolt-Toiyabee National Forest and one in the Stanislaus National Forest.

    Also - check out Spooner Lake State Park (Nevada). They have two rental cabins that you can walk/ski into.

  • 4 years ago

    Lake Tahoe In November

  • 1 decade ago

    I have done winter camping in far warmer climates than Lake Tahoe in November and I would not recommend it.

    My experience tell me that in camping, being dry and warm are the most important things in camping. I've been in rain and hail storms camping in July at 8000 feet and that was very unpleasant.

    Stay in a motel and save camping for next summer.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    You sound like a search & rescue case waiting to happen. I wouldn't start with winter camping. Try a few nice summer day trips first. Don't take a puppy.

    You need to know how to stay dry and get dry for winter camping.

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