Be a Happy (last minute) Camper! Top 4 Local Places to Camp without Reservations | Carson Tahoe Health

Be a Happy (last minute) Camper! Top 4 Local Places to Camp without Reservations

Not everyone is a planner. Because, let’s face it – not everyone, while bundled in January fleece and dodging rain puddles, can envision the balmy summer months ahead and imagine pitching tents under the stars and building bonfires for s’ mores. So camping in our region can be a little unforgiving for those of us who like to fly, if just a little, by the seat of our pants. We get inspired mid-week on a sunny day and want to go camping NOW. Luckily, if you forgot to reserve a campsite last winter, you can still find great camping – last minute – anytime this summer. Check out this list of campsites that don’t take reservations, and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis – so we can all be happy campers!

1. Davis Creek Regional Park – In a dense stand of Jeffrey Pines 20 miles south of Reno just off U.S. 395, is Davis Creek Park. This campground/day-use area offers outstanding views of Washoe Lake and Slide Mountain. Individual picnic sites surround a small scenic pond upon which non-motorized boats are allowed. Nature trails are marked for a self-guided hike among the native flora and fauna. An equestrian trailhead provides access to the Toiyabe National Forest. Although there are no hook-ups, longer travel trailers can be accommodated at 19 sites.


Campground Davis Creek Regional Park, Washoe Valley, NV
Fees $20
Season Open All Year
Amenities 62 campsites, individual picnic sites, dump stations, self-guided nature trails, hot showers (open year-round), equestrian trailhead
Activities Barbecue areas, bird watching, hiking, horse trails, horseshoe pits, picnic areas, reservable picnic areas, trailheads, volleyball courts, walking trails
Pets Pets Welcome
Location Westside of Washoe Valley, US 395 South
Contact (775) 849-0684


2. Bayview Campground – Bayview Campground is located near Emerald Bay and sits at an elevation of 7,100 feet. The campground serves as a trailhead for desolation wilderness. A Wilderness Permit is required to enter desolation wilderness, and day hikers may pick up a day-use permit at the self serve area at the trailhead. Overnight hikers must obtain an overnight permit before arriving at the trailhead. Corral and seasonal watering facilities for horses are available at the trailhead. However, keep in mind that water for the watering facilities is taken from the creek which usually runs dry by the latter part of July, August, and September. So, you should make arrangements to provide your own water during these months.


Campground Bayview Campground, Lake Tahoe
Fees $17 per night
Season Weather-dependent
Amenities 13 campsites, vault restroom, Corral & seasonal watering facilities for horses (for select months only), fire rings
Activities Hiking, backpacking, sightseeing, horse riding, horse camping
Pets Pets Welcome
Location Take Hwy 89 north from South Lake Tahoe approximately 8 miles to the Bayview Campground located across from Inspiration Point.
Contact (775) 831-0914


 3. Juniper Lake Campground– The Juniper Lake Campground is located on the east shore of Juniper Lake via a 13-mile paved/gravel road. From the town of Chester on Highway 36 East, look for signs to Drakesbad and Juniper Lake. At the Chester Fire Station, turn onto Feather River Drive. After about a half-mile, bear right and follow signs to Juniper Lake. The last 6 miles is a rough dirt road not suitable for buses, motor homes, or trailers.


Campground Juniper Lake Campground
Fees $10 per night
Season 6/27/14 -10/14/2014
Amenities 18 campsites, pit toilets, metal food locker, ranger-led programs
Activities Hiking, swimming, backpacking, non-motorized boating, stock use
Pets Permitted
Location From Reno, Nevada: The Northwest is approximately 180 miles west via 395 and Highway 44.
Contact (530) 595-4480


4. Black Rock Desert – Every summer in late August, more than 50,000 people descend on Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for the annual Burning Man Festival. The rest of the year, you’re likely to have this expanse of lava beds and playa plains in remote north-west Nevada all to yourself. Exploration opportunities are endless: the park encloses more than 300,000 acres, open to hiking, biking and off-road vehicles. Wagon wheel ruts from the Oregon Trail are visible in the Emigrant Trails section and the land speed record of 1,227km per hour was set here in 1997.


Campground Black Rock Desert Recreation Area
Fees Varies
Season Open All Year
Amenities Varies
Activities Hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, horse riding, wildlife viewing, picnicking
Pets Pets Welcome
Contact (775) 623-1500

Where do you enjoy camping? Let us know in the comments below!