Camping with Privacy at Lake Tahoe? Only If You Know Where to Look
This article first appeared in the Reno Gazette Journal.
Read the article to discover a book that gives individual campsites a privacy rating from A+ to C-. Covers not only Lake Tahoe but also Crystal Basin Recreation Area, Donner Summit, Truckee, and more. Note that Amazon links in this article are affiliate links. It costs you nothing to click on them but Amazon pays us a commission if you buy something.
Beautiful beaches and incredible views are usually on the list of reasons people go camping near Lake Tahoe.
Privacy usually isn’t.
The authors of a new guidebook would like to change the perception by showing readers where to camp with privacy even at Lake Tahoe, which attracts millions of visitors annually.
“There are a lot of hidden treasures out there,” said Kimberly Wilkes, who wrote “Lake Tahoe Camping with Privacy” with her husband, Patrick Wilkes.
The couple previously wrote “Eastern Sierra and Death Valley Camping with Privacy,” which sold thousands of copies and encouraged them to keep the series going.
The Eastern Sierra book was largely aimed at tent campers. The Lake Tahoe book includes information that’s relevant to tent and RV campers.
More importantly, it shows that people armed with the right information can find campsites that provide some measure of privacy even near popular Tahoe destinations such as Emerald Bay.
“How can there be privacy in Emerald Bay? It is a matter of taking time to know the area,” Patrick Wilkes said.
At 650 pages, the book is the result of extensive research that included visiting 3,280 campsites in and near the Lake Tahoe Basin.
The in-person visits make the book unique because they allowed the authors to experience every site they rated and provide insight on the general privacy vibe, in addition to objective information.
“You can’t get there by searching websites, you can’t get there by Google Earth,” Patrick Wilkes said. “You have to physically be there.”
For each campground they note the elevation, restroom situation, number of campsites, level of cell phone service, whether it takes reservations and whether it provides bear boxes.
Then they assign a privacy letter grade.
For example, A-level spots tend to be shielded by trees, rocks or some other natural feature.
Kimberly Wilkes, a freelance writer, said she got the idea for the book during a trip to Big Pine Creek Campground in Big Pine, Calif.
After scouting a map of the campground online she chose what she thought would be a private site, as it appeared to have plenty of space between it and the next-closest site.
When she got there, however, it turned out the site was exposed and she didn’t have the relaxed experience she had anticipated.
“I could see my neighbor and they could see me and it did not feel private at all,” she said. “I wanted to save people that experience.”
Although the book is centered around Lake Tahoe, it contains information about sites in nearby, lesser-known areas such as the Crystal Basin Recreation area.
Kimberly Wilkes described camping and hiking around the area of Loon Lake.
“You burst out of the forest and see this amazing granite canvas,” she said.
Patrick Wilkes listed the Mt. Rose walk-in spots at a campground overlooking Tahoe Meadows, Washoe Valley and the Truckee Meadows among his favorite spots in the book.
“They afford some tremendous views of Mt. Rose proper and down into the valley,” he said.
The book is available at Amazon, Shelby’s Book Shoppe at 1663 Lucerne Street, Suite 3 in Minden, Nevada, at Sundance Books and Forerunner Books in Reno, and A to Zen in Carson City.
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