Washoe Lake State Park campground is a scenic and very popular park located between Reno and Carson City, Nevada. Sited in a sage and grass covered valley on the shores of the, now seasonal, Lake Washoe and backed by rocky foothills, the campground has sweeping vistas of the Sierra Nevada, Carson and Virginia mountain ranges. The park offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation, including camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, equestrian and water sports activities, as well as wildlife and waterfowl viewing.
Washoe Lake State Park
4855 Eastlake Blvd.
Carson City, NV 89704
Latitude: 39.245742 N, Longitude: -119.761139 W, Elevation: 5,033 ft (1,534 m)
We stayed at Washoe Lake State Park Campground for one week in late September/early October, 2016. The campground does not accept reservations, but we did not have any problem finding a large pull-thru site. We had hoped the campground would not be too busy this late in the season – this proved to be the case.
This is a fairly small campground with 49 tent and RV sites. Sites have no hookups, but there is an RV dump station. The campground features both back-in and pull-thru sites. The park does not accept reservations – first-come, first-served only. A group area can, however, be reserved. Maximum stay at the parks is seven days in a 30 day period.
The park features camping, hiking, picnicking, equestrian and water sport activities, hunting and fishing. The park has many opportunities for waterfowl and other wildlife viewing. The hills behind the park have become popular with paragliders, with a landing zone in the park near the campground. Years of drought and water diversions have left the main lake dry, seasonally. The smaller north section of lake still has water year round.
Note, this is a desert environment. Depending on time of year, conditions will be very hot and dry – be prepared. Take hats, covering clothes, sun screen and plenty of extra water – water for yourself and your pets, too! The valley is quite windy at times – again, be prepared and do not leave awnings or collapsible shade structures unattended or unsecured. Watch out for snakes on the trails and around camp sites.
Air quality was very poor for a few days towards the end of our stay due to a prescribed burn in the hills across the lake. At times, the air was quite dense and smokey. We learned that just a few days after we left, high winds fanned this prescribed burn into the damaging Little Fire wildfire which burned many homes and structures in the hills and valleys across from the lake.
Our stay here cost $24/night, including tax a $7/night extra vehicle fee.
Amenities On Site or Nearby
The campground offers only basic amenities, including dry RV and tent sites, picnic table, fire ring and grill, restrooms and showers, and an RV dump station. Firewood is available for sale at several sites in the park. Markets, gas stations, hardware stores, restaurants and other services are available nearby in Carson City. A wider range of shopping and services are available in Reno.
Accessibility – 4/5
The campground is easily accessible from Interstate I-580/Highway US-395 via Eastlake Blvd. The main road through the park easily accommodates large rigs. Most sites will accommodate a large rig. The campground has several sites reserved for campers with disabilities, as well as facilities with Universal access. The turnoff to the campground is not well-marked and easily missed. When leaving the park exercise caution, as the turn onto the highway has somewhat limited visibility.
Facilities/Amenities – 3/5
The campground offers only basic amenities, including dry RV and tent sites, picnic area with fire ring and grill, restrooms and showers, and RV dump station. The grounds and facilities are very clean and well maintained. Campsites are dry, but water hydrants are available scattered through the campground and at the bath houses. Not sure, but the hydrants may not allow a hose fitting – have a container and some means to refill your tanks, if necessary. Bundles of firewood are available to buy. Camp hosts are on site.
Site quality – 4/5
Sites are spacious, level, with paved drive and sand/dirt camp area. There is good separation between sites. Sites have no hookups. Sites have a shade cover, picnic table, fire ring and a few shade trees. Position of shade trees may pose a problem if you are relying on solar panels for power – pay attention to solar exposure when selecting a site. Both back-in and pull-thru sites are available. Most sites will accommodate a large rig.
Scenic Value – 5/5
Sited in a sage and grass-covered basin on the shores of the, now seasonal, Lake Washoe, backed by rocky foothills, and with sweeping vistas of the Sierra Nevada, Carson and Virginia mountain ranges, the campground is quite scenic.
Location/Isolation – 4/5
Despite proximity to Reno and Carson City, the campground is quiet and feels quite isolated – it is far enough away from Highway US-395 such that road noise is not noticeable. Air traffic into Reno is noticeable at times.
Paws Friendliness – 4/5
The campground is pet friendly, but does not have cleanup-bag stations or any enclosed pet run. The campground is large enough to take a good walk with your pet. Pets on leash may use the miles of trails around the park, including the lake access trail.
Overall Rating – 4/5
This is a really lovely campground which we can highly recommend. We look forward to another visit, sometime soon.
We could receive a weak to moderate 4G Verizon signal at this campground. Deploying our cellular antenna and booster resulted in a good 4G signal, enough for MiFi hot spot internet access. The campground does not have any WiFi service.
Sites at this campground have no hookups. There are a few water hydrants spaced around the campground and at the bath houses, but we did not use them or test water quality.
Here are some area attractions:
- Lake Taho
- Historic Virginia City
- Nevada State Museum
- Nevada State Railroad Museum
Here are a just a few photos of the campground – the majority of the campground photos were lost due to a damaged cell phone: