Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Unfortunately, this means that lodging prices are pretty high out there. And it gets higher if you want to get closer to the lake.
So, you can try camping as one of the alternatives (or as a main way of travel - even better). I've tried multiple places around the lake and I want to list out those.
- Washoe lake state park. This is my personal favorite, it's located within an hour to Lake Tahoe, but it gets the best value in my opinion. As of the time of writing, it costs 17$/night and there are nice clean bathrooms and showers. Yes, showers! You get a spot to camp and you can bring 2 cars and eight people out there. That means you can also set up a tent(s) there. Washoe lake is also a lake, not as beautiful and... not as clean as Tahoe, but you can also swim or launch a boat there. But be aware, that stay limit is 7 days in 30 days period for that spot. Nevertheless, it serves the purpose well.
Stay limit: 7 days in 30 days period
More info: https://www.campendium.com/washoe-lake-state-park
2. BLM land between Carson city and Dayton
BLM land is always an option, so consider this as a good alternative. Nothing to pay, but just be sure to have everything with you. You are completely on your own there. Of course, you should have your food and water supply with you, but also be prepared for something like this:
Just be prepared and have something like shovel.. Spare tire won't hurt either if you get a flat. Anyway, have something that will help you get from there, including some way to call for a help if you stuck completely (cellular connection).
The spot itself is not super beautiful, but again - it's a BLM land and it's free.
Stay limit: 14 days in 30 days period. You can probably stay longer at your own risk, but let's be respectful and obey those rules.
More info: https://freecampsites.net/#!35518&query=sitedetails
3. Alpine Meadows Campground (Army corps of Engineers). I've stayed a few nights at this campground and I liked it as well. It's a bit more compact than Washoe lake state park, but temperature is cooler at night (because of higher elevation) and I liked that fact during the hot summer. It's also closer to Tahoe city and Tahoe Rim Trail, so you could save some time in the morning while looking for a hiking spot.
Stay limit: 14 days in 30 days period
More info: https://www.campendium.com/alpine-meadows-campground
Those are my 3 favorite camping spots nearby the Lake Tahoe. Please be respectful, quiet and good neighbor when you go camping.
Happy camping! Cheers!