Camp Date: June 24-26, 2011
Cost: $35 / night. $5 / extra car parking
Where’s it at? Southwest Lake Tahoe north of the Y on 89

This last weekend we went camping up in South Lake Tahoe. Initial plan was Silver Lake in Amador County off Hwy 88 but the campsite was still snowed in. I hadn’t ever been off hwy 88 so was a little excited for this high altitude campground that would be completely new to me. Oh well. So a sister made alternate arrangements at the last minute and to our amazement there were plenty of campsites available at Camp Richardson in South Lake Tahoe off Hwy 89. Honestly, my initial thought was that I wouldn’t like it, I usually try to stay away from places that have “resort” in their name, when tent camping.

I think the whole group was pleasantly surprised by the place. We had two sites: site 537 and 538 in the “Eagle’s Nest” section, and I was the first to arrive. The campsites are a little hard to find…very small and inconspicuous numbering system here, but I eventually found it. I think I drove through all 536 other sites before I arrived. I had to call my sister to make sure it was the right one since I wasn’t supposed to be the first one there, and there was essentially nobody else in this large area of campsites. The crowds seem to take the other sites in the “Badger’s Den” or “RV Village”, which are closer to the local businesses and Pope Beach, granted not THAT much closer.

The charge for the sites was $35/night, allowing only 1 vehicle, with additional vehicles at $5/day overnight parking. The campsites were fairly spacious, though it was a little challenging to distinguish the exact borders of them. They’d be a lot smaller if you parked your car(s) where you’re supposed to, which also is a little challenging to distinguish, but somehow we all got away with parking the 7 or 8 cars that we had across the path. The rangers or workers here were pretty cool, they did hassle us for trying to get away without paying additional car parking fees but they weren’t jerks about it and we deserved to pay. 🙂 One nice thing was they cut up firewood and made piles that campers could grab for free. That saved a good $15-$20 in wood costs I’m sure. The bathrooms were excellent. While a new building for bathrooms and showers sat closed, the “old” ones that were open right next to them had nothing wrong with them. Probably the cleanest camping bathrooms and showers I’ve ever experienced, with good warm and cold water in both the showers and sinks, and good water pressure. There were even hand soap dispensers, but the showers had no shampoo provided. The toilets flushed and the toilet paper rolls actually spun on their holders, rather than the usual thick metal bar that prevents spinning, common in many campgrounds. There are large (and working!) bear lockers at each site. Everyone was awoken by some car alarms in the middle of the night on day 2 and apparently one of my sisters witnessed a bear getting into food that one nearby group had neglected to stow.

The only con to this place, personally, was that it was a little close to Hwy 89, so if I hadn’t brought earplugs I probably would’ve been annoyed by that. It was easy to forget about it, but it did lack the total serenity usually experienced in a practically empty campground.

Lots of stuff to do right near this place. You can walk to the Richardson House, a Hotel, and a General Store. You can also easily walk to Pope Beach and spend the day. There’s a bike rental outlet within walking distance as well as a great ice cream parlor for those hot days. I’ve experienced Oktoberfest here a couple times also which is really fun if you’re there during this time of year, and I understand they also do a Renaissance Fair at this location.

With a short drive you can visit beautiful Fallen Leaf Lake. Hike down to Vikingsholm in Emerald Bay or it’s nearby Eagle Creek and Falls. There’s the Tallac Historic Site and the Taylor Creek Visitor Center with the neato Stream Profile Chamber and Kiva Beach. On this trip I took a quick drive to Glen Alpine Trailhead just beyond Fallen Leaf Lake and hiked up to Grass Lake in Desolation Wilderness after obtaining the free Wilderness Permit from the Visitor Center by Taylor Creek.

See the links below for more info on some of the activities described and be sure to grab a beer and a burger at Brother’s Bar and Grill on the way in.

All in all a great trip and while there are a number of camping choices in the area, and Fallen Leaf Lake is probably one of my favorites, Camp Richardson won’t disappoint.

Photos from Camping at Camp Richardson(click to enlarge) Camping at Camp Richardon on Lake Tahoe Camping at Camp Richardon on Lake Tahoe
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Written on June 24th, 2011 in Camping, The Whole Thing
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