The Lake Tahoe area on the border of California and Nevada serves as an amazing vacation destination. The area is extremely unique and provides for great views, fun lake adventures, and amazing natural hot spots. The mountainous nature of the area makes for an amazing vacation for avid hikers, nature lovers, and park enthusiasts alike. If you are looking for a great time at a lovely park, make sure that you visit Desolation Wilderness—it’s much more than its name implies!

About the Park

With numerous alpine lakes, scenic waterfalls, and towering granite peaks, Desolation Wilderness is a perfect location for a summer trip. Whether you want an arduous climb or a relaxing walk, you’ll find what you’re looking for here. While summertime draws the most visitors, during the winter, the area becomes a popular playground for experienced backcountry skiers and snowshoers. Thanks to its breathtaking granite landscape and surrounding scenery, as well as relative accessibility, Desolation Wilderness is one of the most popular wilderness areas in the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Long recognized for its mountain splendor, Desolation Valley Primitive Area was established in 1931 and granted wilderness status in 1969. It is located west of Lake Tahoe and north of Highway 50 in El Dorado County, California. It straddles the crest of the Sierra Nevada range, encompassing 63,690 acres, and has elevations ranging from 6,500 feet to nearly 10,000 feet.

Summer Camping

Visitors must obtain a permit for overnight camping and should be aware that throughout the summer months, a quota system is in place for the 45 destination zones within the wilderness. The system helps to disperse visitors throughout the area, providing an opportunity for solitude and reflection. Seventy percent of the available permits are available for advanced reservation. The remaining quota is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Camping within the wilderness area is permitted, but campsites must be on hard surfaces at least 100 feet from water and trails. Maximum group size is limited to 12 people who will be together at any given time during the trip. A signed permit must be carried at all times by a group leader. Campfires are not allowed within the area and haven’t been since 1990. Camp stoves for cooking are permissible. Overnight parking may require a pass in some areas, or may be subject to an additional fee.

If you are looking for a great State Park to accompany your trip, make sure you check out Desolation Wilderness Tahoe. Tahoe Signature Properties would love to help plan your vacation. Check out our amazing rentals to make your next Tahoe vacation be even better!

(Photo By Joe Parks from Berkeley, CA (Desolation Wilderness Eagle Falls) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)