“Great for tents or small units only”
Emerald Bay State Park has two campgrounds - a boat in campground and Eagle Point. We stayed at the latter in an 18 foot long van.
This campground is designed for tent camping although vans, small trailers (such as rPod and pop ups) will be fine as long as you are careful in your site selection. I would not take a larger trailer there - the roads are very narrow and the parking areas are generally very small. The size restrictions are on the website and follow them or you won’t fit.
The campground has a reasonably short season opening in mid June and closing after Labor Day. However, campsites in weekends in particular, often book up 6 months in advance. Before you book a site, make sure you view the details for the particular site - tent sites often had sloped parking areas making them not suitable for vehicle sleeping, length of parking area to make sure your vehicle/trailer fits and number of vehicles it will fit. There is no room for extra vehicles above the one or two it says and overflow parking could be a loooong walk from your site including uphill.
As this campground is up on a peninsula you are not right on the water but there is a forest road you can walk/bike .25 mile down to the beautiful Emerald Bay. Only a small beach but good water access for kayaks, paddle boards etc. However, if you are in the upper campground it will be a much longer walk (a mile or more) and involve much more uphill on your way back.
Partly because of the easier water access but also because of the generally much nicer sites, I would only stay here if I could get a site in the lower campground although some of those around 29 - 33 would be okay. My favourite sites were some of those between 51 and early 90s. They have the advantage of being closest to the more modern bathrooms including showers. This area contained the nicest sites especially for vehicle camping, and views, but not all were great so do your research (campsite photo website helps).
The section 34 - 50 is not suitable for trailers and has older restrooms (which had several toilets under repair during our stay which was quite inconvenient). If you are staying in approx sites 40 - 44, this will involve a steep uphill walk to restrooms. This campground is definitely not flat.
We loved the feel of this campground and the proximity to some great hiking trails: Rubicon Trail leaves from the campground and there are also short overlook trails in the camp. Nearby are trails to Eagle Falls, Cascade Falls, Vikingsholm and up into the Desolation Wilderness. Emerald Bay itself is gorgeous and although it is a low wake zone, with so many boats visiting it, kayaking and paddle boarding was much nicer in the morning especially as often afternoon wind came up too.
Staying at this California SP campgrounds allows you to day visit the other SP in the area such as DL Bliss and Sugar Pine for no charge. DL Bliss has a fantastic beach area but get there very early to secure one of the few parking spots. The beach area camp looked really nice at this park but is very hard to get a reservation in and has site size limitations like Eagle Point.
This review is from the last week of June which we spent camping around Lake Tahoe. Due to some change of plans, we ended up in three different campgrounds - also see reviews for Sugar Pine SP and Nevada Beach.
Skiwi would stay here again
This review is the opinion of a Campendium member and not of Campendium.com