Camping has really become a fascination of mine since moving to California. And I don’t mean glamping, or even the luxury of having a camper. I like camping as simple as possible; tent, fire, and enough peanut butter to sustain me for 3 days. When it’s simple, you spend less time setting up or breaking down your campsite, and more time exploring your surroundings!
A lot of my bucket list travels are in Cali. Lake Tahoe was at the top of my list. I am sure you have seen the pictures on Pinterest of the crystal clear water with huge boulders just beneath the surface, while someone is paddle boarding…and that is exactly what it is like! Sometimes I am skeptical of how true to reality places are, in a world of filters and angles. Tahoe exceeded my expectations. The area surrounding the lake is just as wonderful! Big pines, granite cliffs, meadows…the list goes on. To be honest, the California side is much prettier. It is probably because it is lined with state parks, while the Nevada side is more commercial and residential.
We stayed at Grover Hot Springs State Park. The park is about 40 minutes South of Tahoe in a little town called Markleeville. It is a tiny park in the Sierra Nevada mountains, that is so underrated. The landscape was pristine with hot spring steam rising from the meadows, and dense alpine forest. We saw a bear within 20 minutes of being there, if that gives you any idea of the natural seclusion. The site was only $35 a night, and came with a bear locker and fire pit. They pooled up the hot springs in one area, where you can go and swim. With the cool mountain air and looming green mountains beside the pool, I felt like I was at some Swiss wellness retreat.
As for things to do, it is pretty simple. When you are at the lake, definitely go paddle boarding or kayaking (on the CA side). We hiked the Rubicon Trial, which circles the lake and gives you some jaw-dropping vistas. We also hiked within our state park, but because it was much more off the grid, I was admittedly terrified we would see another bear or mountain lion. Those hikes were more like brisk walks in the morning or evening. Ha! At our campsite we drank wine and ate s’mores, and I am sure life doesn’t get much better than that.