Get away from it all with some of the best camping in Tahoe area
Fall in the Sierra can sound a little like the first snowfall: quiet. And that can be a good thing for shoulder-season campers who want to miss the summer crowds and enjoy the fall foliage, cooler days and crisp nights. To further enhance the feeling of getting away from it all, former Sonoma County resident Patrick Wilkes has co-authored and photographed a book, “Lake Tahoe Camping with Privacy,” that identifies and rates campsites in the Tahoe area for privacy and other key attributes.
Wilkes was a longtime Sonoma County resident before moving to Northern Nevada in 2011. There, he met his wife and co-author, Kimberly.
He raised his five children in Santa Rosa, Cotati and Rohnert Park. His daughter, April, grandchildren Lynnea and Wilbert, and his sons, Daniel and Wesley, still live in Sonoma County.
When Wilkes’ kids were young, the family were frequent campers. When he heard Kimberly’s idea to write a series of books about campsites hidden from view of the neighbors, he loved the idea.
In researching and writing the book series, the couple has looked at nearly 7,000 campsites for the Lake Tahoe book and its predecessor, “Eastern Sierra And Death Valley Camping With Privacy.”
Wilkes was in Kenwood during the October 2017 fires and evacuated with his grandchildren and daughter while flames burned on either side of the road. Patrick’s car was totaled when winds during the fires blew down a tree on the vehicle.
“Losing the car was stressful, but it was nothing compared to the people who lost their lives and homes,” Wilkes said.
Here is an excerpt with some suggestions from Kimberly and Patrick Wilkes on where to camp in the fall, based on their “Lake Tahoe Camping With Privacy” and “Eastern Sierra And Death Valley Camping With Privacy” books.
Pinecone Strip Campground — Sly Park Recreation Area
From Placerville, take U.S. 50 east about 13 miles to the Sly Park Road Exit 60. Turn right onto Sly Park Road and travel 4.11 miles to the Sly Park Recreation Area entrance gate. Drive 1.2 miles into the park to the Pinecone Peninsula Campground. You will drive through Pinecone Peninsula Campground to reach Pinecone Strip.
What’s It Like?
Spread out on a strip of land next to Jenkinson Lake, Pinecone Strip Campground, which is tent only, has a good selection of campsites with privacy. Large manzanita bushes and/or evergreen trees separate many of the Pinecone Strip camp spaces. Many of the spots on the strip have lake views. The campground is open all year long (except after heavy snow). A lot of deciduous vegetation throughout the recreation area, including dogwood trees, decks out the park with fall color.
Pinecone Strip Campsite With The Most Privacy
Campsite 38 Privacy Rating: A
Reservable? Yes. Visit. eid.org/recreation/spra-campsite-photos-and-reservations or call 530-295-6810.
Best For: Tent Only
Look out over the manzanita and between the trees in front of 38, and you’ll have a good — but not perfect — view of the lake. This long, narrow, shady spot has a massive cedar tree shading the picnic table. Large manzanita grow behind the site. No other camp spaces are in view. To the left, it looks up over a pine-covered hill. One minor disadvantage is that the campground road loops around the site, so it’s partially visible in front and behind through a curtain of vegetation.