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Fall Camping in Lake Tahoe: Colorful Camping Options

Lake Tahoe is beautiful in the fall, and thankfully there are a number of campgrounds still open in the autumn months.  If you’re wondering where to camp in Lake Tahoe to see some great fall colors, we’ve compiled a list of some great options.

The leaves typically start to change in late September to early October, but this varies by year and location around the lake.

Open Lake Tahoe campgrounds with great fall colors

RV & Tent Camping

Luther Pass

The Luther Pass campground is unique in that it’s the only established free campground in Lake Tahoe.  It’s also close to some beautiful scenery.  Head south on Highway 89 to Hope Valley and then west on 88 towards Carson Pass; this whole area puts on quite a show.  There are also some good easy trails almost right across the highway where you can walk along the Upper Truckee River and enjoy the changing leaves.  Large RVs not recommended due to tight curves.

hope valley
Hope Valley in the fall after a light snow. Flickr photo jcookfisher.

Fallen Leaf Lake

This campground typically closes mid to late October, but it’s open in time for you to enjoy fall at this scenic lake.  The campground is usually quiet this time of year.  Aspens abound, and you’ll have a nice backdrop of Fallen Leaf Lake and Mount Tallac.  As an added bonus, you’re in a perfect situation to see the Kokanee Salmon spawn at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center, across the highway from the Fallen Leaf Campground.  The spawn usually occurs in late September.  Contact the Taylor Creek Visitor Center at 530-543-2600 for more information.

kokanee salmon
Kokanee Salmon spawning in Taylor Creek. Flickr photo jcookfisher.

The Truckee River

The three campgrounds along the Truckee River – Granite Flat, Goose Meadow, and Silver Creek – are great for fall camping.  The campgrounds themselves aren’t spectacularly golden with color, but the bigger picture around the Truckee River is quite beautiful in the fall.

truckee river
The Truckee River. Flickr photo jcookfisher.

Backcountry Camping

Marlette Lake

For fall backcountry camping, our favorite has to be Marlette Lake.  There are three designated primitive campgrounds near Marlette Lake – Marlette Peak, Hobart, and North Canyon.  You can’t camp right at Marlette, but it’s close enough from these campgrounds to enjoy the scenery.  Marlette and Hobart have mostly conifers in the campgrounds but North Canyon is right smack-dab in the middle of the aspens.

marlette lake
Fall aspens and the old homesite reflecting in the still, morning waters of Marlette Lake. Photo John Peltier

Lake Sylvia

Lake Sylvia lies in Desolation Wilderness.  Whereas much of Desolation Wilderness is either above the treeline or alpine forest, Lake Sylvia – and the trail to it – is lined with grasses and other trees that change a vivid yellow in the fall.  The hike is moderate and just shy of five miles one-way.  Permits are still required in the fall, but there are no quotas this time of year.

lake sylvia
Lake Sylvia in Desolation Wilderness. Photo John Peltier

Round Lake

There are a number of backpacking options from the Big Meadow Trailhead near Luther Pass.  One of these lakes is Round Lake.  This lake is 3.3 miles from the Big Meadow Trailhead and is moderate in difficulty.  The lake itself is mostly surrounded by pines, but it does have some bright color in the fall.  What’s better is the hike to Round Lake.  The trail passes through numerous meadows and stands of aspen that really stick out in the fall.  No permits are required.

big meadow
These aspens in the Big Meadow area will turn a brilliant yellow in fall. Photo John Peltier

We hope this helps you find some beautiful, colorful fall camping near Lake Tahoe!

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