RV Rental Emerald Bay State Park, CA

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Gushing waterfalls, lakeview campsites, and a Norwegian-styled mansion are just a few of the treasures awaiting South Lake Tahoe campers. Originally sold to California by lumberman Harvey West in 1953, Emerald Bay State Park was promptly designated a National Natural Landmark in 1969. Right on the crest of California’s Sierra Nevada, South Lake Tahoe is neighboring cities with contemporary Truckee and is about half an hour’s drive away from the lush landscapes of the El Dorado National Forest.

Located in one of a handful of cities on the historic Lake Tahoe, the park features California’s first ever maritime heritage underwater trail for divers to explore and interact with. Prefer to be in the woods? Numerous nature trails swirl around the park, offering breathtaking views from every direction. Formed by massive Sierra cliffs that cascade into the bay, Emerald Bay State Park is the perfect woodland escape for outdoor enthusiasts to rest their rental RV.

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Getting Outdoors

Located directly on the water, Emerald Bay has every kind of aquatic activity you can imagine, so don’t forget to stash your fishing rod and swimsuit in your campervan rental. Rainbow trout, Mackinaw trout, and kokanee salmon are all waiting to be caught in the emerald-green water of the bay. Situated comfortably in a kayak or canoe, you can fish to your heart's content with the imposing mountains as your backdrop.

Looking for that perfect family photo? Hike up the Rubicon Trail to Inspiration Point, a staggering 600-foot overlook above Lake Tahoe offering breathtaking vistas. A camera is a necessity for this brilliant panorama of the bay, Fannette Island, the lake, and more. While taking in the dazzling views, you can expect local flora and fauna, such as the vanilla-scented Jeffrey pine trees and vibrant yellow monkeyflowers, to tickle the senses.

Dive right into the bay at the underwater Maritime Heritage Trail, where divers can discover Lake Tahoe’s golden era of recreation in the early 20th century via shipwrecks. For all those history buffs out there, waterproof interpretive cards specifically crafted for the trail can be purchased either at the park’s visitors' centers or online. Depth of the four unique dive sites ranges from 10 to 60 feet, which can make for a chilly water experience, so make sure to come prepared.

Camping at Emerald Bay State Park

Camping with an RV at Emerald Bay State Park is a breeze, with over 90 sites to choose from at Emerald Bay’s Eagle Point Campground. With most sites giving campers a lake view, you don’t have to leave the sights behind after a full day of adventuring. With hiking trails and picture-perfect spots near every site, the peaceful calm of the water and the simple rustic beauty of the forest campground will make you want to book an RV in El Dorado County.

Each site accommodates vehicles up to 21 feet, and although there are no hookups, hot showers and restrooms are available near every site. Your site will also include a personal picnic table, stove, and food locker to enhance your motorhome camping experience.

You can reserve a site up to six months in advance, and the park does offer wheelchair-accessible campsites. Furry friends are welcome at each site, as long as they are leashed and supervised.

Exploring the Area

Looking for something unique? Leave your RV rental at Emerald Bay State Park and travel to Fannette Island, a brush-covered granite land that boasts of being the only island on Lake Tahoe. Rising 150 feet above the water, the formerly named "Dead Man’s Island" holds a longstanding reputation of being haunted by former resident, Captain Dick Barter, since his mysterious disappearance in 1873.

And, of course, you can’t forget Vikingsholm, a Norwegian-styled mansion that Lora Knight commissioned in September of 1929. Using ancient Scandinavian construction methods and materials, some furnishings that Mrs. Knight desired were so historically significant that she was denied access. Not to be refused, she chose to replicate the original furnishings down to a “T” to create the masterpiece that is Vikingsholm.

As a resort city, South Lake Tahoe offers entertainment and attractions to suit everyone in your group. After a long day of hiking and exploring Lake Tahoe, hit the town for a little retail therapy, live music, or nightlife. For even more thrills, venture to South Lake Tahoe's amusement park, complete with ziplining, snow tubing, a mountain rollercoaster, and climbing walls. If your muscles are aching after all that adventure and exhilaration, treat yourself to a soak one of many hot springs found throughout the Tahoe Basin. Hellman-Ehrmann Mansion is just the ticket for culture vultures and history buffs. This 2,000-acre estate was once a summer retreat for San Francisco magnate, I.W. Hellman. Now a popular wedding venue, the mansion is open for tours from May to September.

If you’re getting tired of camp food, South Lake Tahoe offers an assortment of grocery stores and restaurants to refresh the palate. Chinese, Mexican, bistro, and local cafes all showcase flavorful California food to satisfy your cravings. And if you’re really feeling adventurous, you can hop onto the CA-89 and arrive at Gardnerville in just under an hour, where Basque cuisine is served in droves. Then, with full bellies, you and your family can warm your hands by a cozy campfire and watch the sun go down over Lake Tahoe.

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Popular nearby hiking trails and campgrounds

  • Hiking TrailLocation
  • Emerald Point Trail, CAEmerald Bay State Park, CA
  • Vikingsholm Trail, CAEmerald Bay State Park, CA
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