We were looking for campground near Donner Lake for a summer weekend to attend Donner Lake Triathlon event that Team Asha participated in. Since we are a big group of over 40 people, it was nearly impossible to find a group site. So, the group split up and we stayed at Granite Flat Campground.
I booked the Granite Flat Campground in Tahoe National Forest area, in the first week of May for our stay during July 20th weekend. At the time I booked, there were plenty of sites open. So, guessing 2.5 months in advance is good enough to plan for Granite Flat Campground.
Granite Flat Campground Review
How to book Granite Flat Campground sites online ?
Granite Flat Campground is a reservable campground. I do recommend booking ahead of time, if you know for sure you are going to need a campsite. However, keep in mind online reservation adds $8 of reservation fee that is not refundable.
You can reserve a site at Recreation.gov.
It costs $22 per site per night. When we were there, the entire campground was fully booked out. There are about 75 sites in the campground and all of them were taken for the night.
They do have 7 tent only campsites that are designated only for walk-ups in case you are scrambling to get one at the last minute.
How far is it from the road ?
The entire campground is right next to Hwy 89. There are three rows of campsites and ours happened to be on the inner most row next to Truckee river. So, I barely heard any sound of vehicles driving by. However, some folks in our group complained that they could hear the car sounds all night long.
If you are a noise sensitive sleeper, think twice about Granite Flat Campground.
Does it have flush toilet ?
Nope. There is no flush toilet at Granite Flat Campground. There are vault toilets there. However, I was impressed with how clean and absolutely smell free these toilets were. The camp host maintains the toilets very regularly and floors are clean and dry always.
What about drinking water ?
Right outside the toilets, there is a pipe with fresh running drinking water. That’s one people also use to wash their hands after using toilets. So, wash your hands thoroughly after touching the pipe.
Scenery around Granite Flat Campground
There are trees in the campsite and some sites had shades and some didn’t. One row of campsites have direct access to the truckee river that was flowing with vigor in Summer 2019 thanks to heavy snow this season. I saw a few guys fishing at the river. Not sure if they caught anything, but fishing is allowed at the campground and at Truckee river.
Are campfire and BBQ allowed ?
Yes, there is a BBQ grill, picnic table and fire ring available at each campsite. The camp host drives around selling firewood on busy weekends, in case you need more wood.
Last few years during the Tahoe swims, the weather was so cold at night. This year, it was really warm for me, given how cold I sleep at nights, and barely needed an extra layer. So, we didn’t really do any campfire that night.
How many people are allowed ?
Each campsite’s capacity is 6 people including kids. We were two families with two tents. One tent was the really big 4 person family size tent. And the second one was a two person tent. After we pitched both of those tents, there was no other space at all.
How many cars are allowed ?
One car is included per site in the reservation fee. However, if you really have to park the second car, it can be done and the camp host will charge you for it. There was enough space for the second car in case it was needed.
Are pets allowed ?
Yes, Dogs are allowed at the campsite. But, they need to be on the leash.
What are the check-in and check-out timings ?
2PM check-in and Noon check out. One of our parties had the car still parked after noon check-out time and at 12:15PM, the camp host gave them a ticket and forced them to pay fee for the next night even though they were just leaving a few minutes after.
This is not a strict rule in all campgrounds. Some camp hosts are stricter than the others. It’s your luck.
Booking and Cancellation Window
You can book and cancel online on recreation.gov website before 48 hours. I had booked two campsites and one group dropped out. So, I was trying to cancel one of the sites in that 48 hour window. Since I was inside the 48 hour window the system didn’t allow me to make any changes. I even called recreation.gov folks and they said even they use the same system and can’t make any changes.
Things to do near Granite Flat Campground
Main attractions near Granite Flat Campground are Donner Lake and Lake Tahoe. However, there are other things to do near Donner lake as well.
Donner Lake things to do:
- Rent a paddle boat at Donner Lake
- Bring your own Kayak to get around the lake
- Enjoy rafting on the Truckee River with Truckee River Rafting.
- Go fishing at Truckee River
- Bring your kids to the really nice play area at Donner Lake that includes climbing walls.
- Picnic at one of the several picnic tables under the shades of West End Donner Lake Beach.
- Participate in Donner Lake Triathlon.
Lake Tahoe Things to do:
- Drive over to Squaw Valley for summer fun at the Base Area or take the gondola up to High Camp.
- River rafting on the Truckee River with Truckee River Rafting.
- Try fishing from shore or a boat.
- Hike to Desolation Wilderness and Echo Lakes on a day hike or backpacking trip.
- Take a scenic gondola ride at Heavenly Valley or Squaw Valley.
- Visit Emerald Bay. Hike down to Emerald Bay, rent a kayak and walk up to the castle in the Island.
- Bike around Lake Tahoe for 76 miles.
- Take a multi-day backpacking trip on Tahoe Rim trail.
- Participate in Lake Tahoe Triathlon or Lake Tahoe Marathon or relays.
There are countless number of hiking and water sports in both Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake for an entire weekend or even a full week to be filled with nature.