CAMPGROUND NAME: Alpine Meadows (at Martis Creek Lake, Truckee, CA)
LOCATION: Truckee, CA
KIND: ACE (Army Corps of Engineers)
SEASONAL: Yes, mid-may to mid- October
RATES: $20, or $10 with an interagency pass
STAY LIMIT: 14 days
RESERVATIONS ACCEPTED: Yes
CAMPGROUND WEB SITE
CAMPGROUND MAP: None I could find, but I’m including a Google Maps satellite view below
PHONE: 530-587-8113 (Ranger)
GPS: 39.320103, -120.122253
ACCESS: Paved roads
# OF SITES: 24-25
PULL THRU: Turnout sites similar to pull-thrus
MAXIMUM RIG SIZE: Officially, 30′ but rigs as big as 60′ can probably fit in some sites. The ranger told me they didn’t really have size restrictions.
LEVELNESS: Most sites will require some leveling.
SHADE: Partial in most sites, full in sites 1 and 2 as I recall
SPACING: Reasonable as in many ACE campgrounds. #14 was perhaps the most separated from the others
TENT PADS: No
FIRE RINGS: Yes
PICNIC TABLES: Yes
PETS: On leash
DUMP STATION: No
CELLULAR: We had workable Verizon and AT&T
Over-the-air: I don’t think we received any channels
RESTROOM RATING: Fail. I failed the restrooms even though they were generally not too bad. There was no hand soap or any way to dry your hands. The floors stayed wet for days after they were mopped so unless you like wet pants or have some method by which to avoid letting your clothes touch the floor the toilets were unusable when the floors were wet. One of the two restrooms had lights that would inexplicably shut off when you needed them the most, if you know what I mean. You would find yourself sitting in pitch black with nothing you could do about it. Bring your flashlight at night! I mean, c’mon… really??? (I assign a Pass or Fail rating based on many considerations including: cleanliness, usability, hot water availability, hand soap availability, ease or difficulty it is to use the toilet paper, condition of fixtures, if using the restroom is a pleasant or unpleasant experience, etc.)
WATER: Water fill at the campground entry, spigots around the campground which may not be used for RV tank filling.
RECYCLING: If you can figure out what they want and don’t. It seemed bottles and cans only but they don’t say.
BUGS: Not a problem when we were there in early to mid July
NEAREST FACILITIES: Truckee & Kings Beach
Gas, Diesel: Fast Lane just outside the campground
Dump: Coachland RV in Truckee
Propane: Ace Hardware in Truckee
Groceries: Safeway in Truckee and Kings Beach
RV Parks: Coachland and Truckee River RV Parks in Truckee. There are also some Forest Service campgrounds up that way.
This campground is situated about half way between Truckee and Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. This would make for great mountain weather in the summer and winter sports in the winter but the campground is only open from May 15 to Oct. 15, so you’ll have to settle for the great weather 🙂
The campground in a thin forest of tall pines which provides partial shade to most sites and rather full shade to a few, #’s 1 and 2 and maybe a few others. The campground road and campsites driveways are paved. Campsites include picnic tables, BBQ grills and fire rings. The campground was well kept by the hosts when we were there except that on the day of the week they mopped the floors the toilet stalls were difficult or impossible to use because of puddling on the floors. There is no excuse for this in my book but we’ve all seen similar at other campgrounds. The bathrooms have vault toilets, the sinks cold water. Except for the problem with wet floors they were clean, well kept.
We spent our first night in site 1st #5, a turnout that required squeezing way over to the passenger side so as not to stick out into the campground road and wood blocks on that side. The ground drops away outside and we needed a step stool at the entry door in order that the last step down to the ground be manageable. Leveling at this site was tricky with one wheel half off the pavement. It would be easier for a less wide RV. There was pretty good sun for solar. Site 23 where we spent the next several days is a back in. This site is close to level. Here too there was decent sun for solar production in the morning but shaded in the afternoons from trees to the west.
Recreation.gov showed the size limit for this campground at 30′ but Greg, the ranger at phone number above said there are larger sites. We fit fine in 5, 23 and 14 and rigs as large as us (53′ when hitched to our 5th wheel) can fit in many sites in the campground. We had enough room to unhitch at all 3 sites we used. The campground is near the Truckee airport and we did indeed notice noise from air traffic at times as well as a little road noise from CA 267, but both quieted down at night. There is a water fill for RVs at the campground entry. Spigots are spread around throughout the campground but these are not for filling RV tanks. There are no hookups in the campground and no dump station. The dump station at Coachland RV Park (530-587-3071) about 20 minutes away is available for a fee. There is no place provided for dishwashing and it seems they expect tent campers to spill gray water from washing dishes on the ground. I found this rather inexplicable while at the same time bear vaults are provided in which to store food. So, store your food in a vault while distributing water with food waste around the campground? Doesn’t make sense to me. Sometimes it seems the ACE does a half-ass job of things.
Quite a few bird houses have been installed in the meadows adjacent to the campground and many of them were occupied when we were there in early July. We saw green-tailed towhee, mountain bluebirds with fledglings that delighted us, red-tailed hawk, blackbirds (either tricolor, red-wing or both), Steller’s jay, American robin, gadwall, killdeer, house wren, northern flicker, Canada goose, tree swallow, American white pelican, western wood peewee, white-breasted nuthatch and others.
Diesel, and I expect gas is much less in NV if you’re going that way but it’s too far to go just to gill up. Check the Maverik truck stop for diesel In Carson City if you’re heading that way. (We tend to look for truck stops because we know we can fit.) Near the campground is a Fast Lane that has better prices than either Truckee or around Lake Tahoe with the possible exception of the Nevada side which we did not travel. We put just enough diesel in the tank to get around while in the Truckee/Tahoe area arriving at the Maverik in Carson City near empty where we filled up with diesel for $1 a gallon less than Fast Lane.
For medical care there is an emergency room 20 minutes from the campground: Tahoe Forest Hospital, Donner Pass Road and Pine Ave, 10121 Pine Avenue, PO Box 759, Truckee, CA 96160, (530) 587-6011. There is also Gateway Urgent Care at 11105 Donner Pass Rd., Truckee, CA, 530-582-2070 and Truckee Tahoe Medical Group, 10956 Donner Pass Road Suite 110 Truckee, CA 96161. Please check for yourself to see if these are still in operation when you plan to be in the area.
Figure about 3 hours to drive around Lake Tahoe from the campground, if that is something you want to do. If I recall it’s a 71 mile circuit to circumnavigate the lake and then there is getting to it and back from the campground. We drove down the west shore as far as Emerald Bay to take in that famous view. There are lots of hiking and mountain biking trails in the area. We had a lovely time riding the tame, paved Truckee River Legacy Bike Trail that parallels the Truckee river. We also rode a mostly dirt track trail called the Martis Creek Trail just across the highway from the campground. Check your skill level and equipment before riding this. I think most novices with hybrids can handle it and where it gets a little tricky it can be walked. We also hiked down to and partially around Martis Creek Lake.
I found one YouTube video of the campground although it was mislabeled Martis Creek Lake Campground. While the campground very close to Martis Creek Lake, it is called Alpine Meadows Campground. The video is here.
The town of Truckee is a short distance to the north and has a very interesting history surrounding the building of the first transcontinental railroad, largely built in the area by Chinese immigrants who were treated rather like slaves. You can spend a lot of time in the area exploring. There is a Safeway in Truckee, a delightful Ace Hardware next door to it with a propane filling station, and a small natural foods kitty corner called New Moon. Prices seemed high at all stores. Another Safeway can be found south of the campground in Kings Beach. Truckee has some art galleries and we happened into Glassforms at 10072 Donner Pass Road on the second floor where we chatted with Frank Rossbach who has been blowing glass for 45 years and was sitting at his work station doing just that when we wandered in. You can blow some glass with him if you like. Just ask.
Not far from the campground and Truckee is Donner Lake and Donner Lake State Park which mark the location of the famous and tragic story of the Donner Party, a group of pioneers traveling by covered wagon that crossing the Sierra Nevada in the fall and winter of 1846-47 lost many of their number and some who survived did so only by cannibalising the remains of others that died. To the west of Donner Lake along Scenic Route 40, the Lincoln Highway, can be found the Chinese Wall and some railroad tunnels built by Chinese laborers, and the Rainbow Bridge which has its own interesting history.
For the adventurous, glider rides and parachuting are available at the airport near the campground.
We could easily have stayed a month or more in the area while only scratching the surface of all the outdoor activities and explorations of the history of the area but the campground limit is 14 days and we had to play musical campsites to stay the 11 days we did. The campground used to be first-come first-served but is now on the reservation system although at the time of this writing that was not reflected by the ACE web site. Finding a 14 day opening in one site may be a bit of a trick so reserve well ahead of time and/or prepare to switch sites.
We would stay at Alpine Meadows again.