Pitch a Tent and Pass The Dice : Casino Camping South Lake Tahoe

The Grinders Visit South Lake Tahoe Casinos and Campgrounds

Posted by Richie Raviolis

Camping Near South Lake Tahoe Casinos

If you want to spend an amazing summer weekend in South Lake Tahoe without spending your gambling budget on lodging, I've got three words for you. Camping, camping, camping.

Miss Melody and I have tried camping both in the busy summer months of July and August, as well as in the slower fall season in September and October, and both times we had no trouble finding a campground near the state-line casinos, and with plenty of access to the lake. Our two favorite camp spots are the Campground By The Lake, and Camp Richardson.


Open from April through October, Campground-By-The-Lake's 160 site campground is a great choice for it's location. It's right on HWY 50, about 2.4 miles from the state-line casinos, and directly across the street from the Lake. Bring a cooler and you can stock up on camp food and beverages at the Raley's grocery store just up the road, or eat at one of the restaurants nearby along Lake Tahoe Boulevard, (HWY 50).

The sites are a good size, more than enough room for a few tents, but are close to neighboring sites. This is not "wilderness" camping, by any stretch. In fact, the camp is in a recreation area, including an ice skating rink, pool, basketball court, horse shoes... and much, much more! (there is an extra charge for use of some of these facilities). And, if you bring or rent a bike... there are lots of bike paths that'll get you all around South Lake Tahoe with ease.

We stayed in site F2, near Rufus Allen Boulevard, back and away from busy HWY 50 in the corner of the property. It's a bit strange because it's next to a fenced-in snow plough truck yard. But the layout of the site gives you much more room than most sites. And the snow ploughs are not in use in the summer, so no worries there.

All the sites have nice big picnic tables and fire pits. There are bathrooms and showers, a camp store, and a dog walk area. And, best of all, there's free WiFi, too!

This is a camp where you don't have to cook over the fire if you don't want to. You can wake up in the morning and take a stroll to the coffee and breakfast place directly across from the camp on HWY 50. You don't even have to drive or bike! You can catch the blueGO public transportaion at several stops just outside the camp, along Lake Tahoe Boulevard, and get yourself right to the casinos in minutes. The blueGO buses run every 30 minutes, and a $3 all day pass gets you pretty much anywhere in South Lake you want to go. The casinos also run regular free shuttles to and from the camp, as well.

Camp Richardson Campground

Camp Richardson Campground's lakeside camp is a bit further from state-line, about 7 miles, just around the bend on HWY 89, but has some great features that make it all worth it. For one, there's the beach. Just outside the north and south side of camp are two great beaches right on the lake for you to chill and nurse your hangover, or rent any number of water related vehicles to get yourself moving. (Campground Map)

To the South is Pope Beach, a crowed family beach with lots of parking, and to the North is Camp Richardson Beach, an easy walk from the camp. These white sandy beaches are great, with awesome views of the surrounding Sierra Mountains. You could spend your evenings at the casinos, but you should spend your days on the beach. Think of the lake as your Vegas hotel pool, only better. Besides chillin' and swimmin', there is water-skiing, para-sailing, kayaking, Jet Skiing, windsurfing, and plain old sailing, too!

But the greatest part of Camp Richardson is the restaurant and bar called The Beacon. Located right on the beach, with outdoor patio seating and live music during the day, it's hard to beat. Miss Melody and I rolled in and immediately wondered what the frozen, fruity drink was that everybody was holding. Well, of course, it was their "world famous" Rum Runners. These frozen delicious blended concoctions of fruit and rum are $6 a pop, but worth every brain freeze. And don't forget to try one of their Bloody Mary's, too!

The Beacon also has a full, comfort food menu with lots of good appetizers, fish & chips, and a great veggie burger and fries, too. The Beacon acted as our "home base" while we were there, and we didn't make one meal at camp. But, to save our gambling money, one afternoon we bought some sandwich fixings at Riley's grocery and made a quick lunch while we sat by the lake. And the Camp Richardson General Store has a small menu of breakfast and lunch sandwiches, and not to mention your morning coffee, for relatively cheap.

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