Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Guided tours
No
Backcountry camping
Yes
Lodging
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Desolation Wilderness is a 63,960-acre federally protected wilderness area in the Sierra Nevada within Eldorado National Forest, west of Lake Tahoe. It is a very popular recreation site and is jointly managed by Eldorado National Forest and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.

The Desolation Wilderness features granite peaks, glacial valleys, waterfalls, and scenic alpine lakes. There are pine forests and sparsely vegetated woodlands with juniper and chaparral. It has streams and meadows with a variety of your-round and perennial plants, including wildflowers, grasses, aspens, and willows. 

The Crystal Range, a subrange of the Sierra Nevada, runs through the area including Pyramid Peak (9.985') which is the highest point in the range and wilderness.

ANIMALS

The Desolation Wilderness is home to many species of plants and animals, including mule deer, black bears, coyotes, bobcats, badgers, marmots, and squirrels. Among its birds are Steller's jay, Clark's nutcracker, mountain chickadee, grouse, mountain bluebird, and occasionally the golden eagle.

RECREATION

Desolation Wilderness is an extremely popular hiking, camping, and backpacking destination. This area features several trails, including the Tahoe Rim Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. Among the other highlights are Horsetail Falls and Lake Aloha, the largest body of water within the wilderness. 

PERMITS

A backcountry permit is required for overnight stays as well as day use. Permits and permit information can be found at www.recreation.gov

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

United States Forest Service: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/ltbmu/recarea/?recid=11786

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Alpine lakes. Granite Peaks. Hiking Trails.

Features

General store
Backcountry camping
Waterfalls
Wildlife
Big vistas
Marina
Wildflowers

Location

Nearby Adventures

Emerald Bay State Park + Desolation Wilderness

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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