Hidden Car Camping Treasure in the Sierra Nevada!

California camping Road Tripping Sierra Nevada Travel

Looking for an epic car camping location in the Sierra Nevada that doesn’t need reservations a million years ahead of time? We’ve got the perfect spot for you!

Woods Lake

Woods Lake Campground is located at 8200 feet near the summit of Carson Pass and because of its high elevation, is often one of the last campgrounds to open for the season. This amazing campground has 25 first come first serve, tent only campsites. Sounds amazing, right?

Views from the trail around Woods Lake

To get to Woods Lake, travel 63.5 miles eastward from Jackson, California on Highway 88. Woods Lake Campground is located 2 miles off Highway 88 between Caples Lake and the summit of Carson Pass. Look for signs, the campground is well marked.

Our campsite

The campsites are tucked away, each one very private from another. There are also two double sites for larger groups. Individual sites are $24 per night and the double sites are $48. If you have an All Access pass, check with the campground host because we received a discount with ours.

beautiful Woods Lake

Woods Lake felt like an oasis to us! We pulled in, chose our campsite, set up camp then headed out for a little hike around the lake. Woods Lake is open to non-motorized boats only. We saw one fisherman out on his canoe and the setting is serene and peaceful.

hiking around the lake

As we hiked around the lake, we were delighted to see an eagle soaring and diving over the lake. We watched the fisherman’s front row seat as this eagle skimmed the water looking for fish….and catch one! This sight was an amazing bonus to an already incredible alpine location.

wildflowers blooming around the lake

The hike around the lake is a bit boggy. In one spot that Daniel felt was shallow enough to walk through without getting our hiking boots too wet, our trek turned into a nearly knee deep muck fest. With that being said, be prepared to get some soggy feet or way find a little better than we did so you stay on the trail. There are several hikes that depart from this location including Winnemuca and Round Top Lakes, both we hear are amazing but our time was limited there so we saved those for next time.

sunset over Woods Lake

Even with the smoke from summer fires, the sunset was epic to see. Reflections in the water are a photographer’s dream. The water was like glass as the sun dipped below the horizon.

rocky shores of Woods Lake

We stopped at Woods Lake not quite sure what to expect. What we found was an amazing treasure! This is definitely a campground worth returning to for a multi-day stay.


Have you been to Woods Lake? What are your favorite hidden campgrounds of the Sierra Nevada? Comment below and don’t forget to share, like, and follow our blog for more adventures!


I'm an only child who grew up on a sailboat, a lover of adventure, a mom, wife, an RN, and a friend of all dogs.


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