Off-Road Camping: White Rock Lake

One day late last week, my man and I were sitting around drinking a beer or two after work and we decided that we needed to go camping. The next day. We started gathering our gear and making a shopping list, and the next afternoon, we were ready to leave after work. Thank you drunk-self for deciding on such an awesome and spontaneous adventure!

A few weeks prior we had done some off-roading in the Jeep and discovered the most beautiful lake, White Rock Lake. This lake is located in the Tahoe National Forest off of Highway 89. Disclaimer: this is not a destination that I would recommend for a regular passenger car. You will probably get stuck or high-centered and your weekend is surely to be ruined. You could probably get here in a Subaru Outback, but I am not going to endorse that. You’ll have to make that call yourself, but there is something that makes the adventure all the more fun when you add a little challenge to it. Right?

To get to White Rock Lake, take Highway 89 North of Truckee for 17 miles. Take a left on Jackson Meadows Road (also know as Forest Service Road #7). The turn will come up on you quick, so make sure you are looking for it once your odometer reads about 17 miles outside of Truckee. There is a staging area/parking lot here and some restrooms. Continue past these to the left. From here, you will follow the paved road for a little less than 10 miles and take a left on Forest Service Road #86. You will see a sign here for Meadow Lake (10 miles) and White Rock Lake (12 miles). If you were to continue straight on Jackson Meadows Road for 7 more miles, you will reach Jackson Meadows Reservoir.

After you turn, the road will turn into dirt and you will continue to follow this for approximately 7 miles. Here you will see a sign for White Rock Lake. Take a left. After you leave the main road, things will get a little “rough.” The road is quite rocky and there are some spots where you have to be careful no matter what kind of car you are driving. Also, make sure to pay attention every time there is a fork in the road. There are a few, but each will have a boulder marked in spray paint with “WRL” or “WR” and an arrow pointing you in the right direction. Make sure to follow these signs.

You will eventually reach a meadow with an obvious fork and a sign post with a map of the area. If you are in a Jeep or high clearance vehicle, you can take the road to the left.


This might not be entirely necessary, but boys will be boys…

This will take you down to the lake after a little rock crawling. There are about 7 primitive camp sites scattered along the shore. We followed the road almost till then end and found a great place along the East shore with not another soul in sight.


View of our camp facing towards the road.

During certain times of the year, fires are prohibited in the fire rings provided, so make sure to check with the Forest Service on this. There are also no outhouses or trash services here. Make sure to pack it out!


Morning view of the lake from our campsite.

If you decided to make the trek to White Rock in something like an Outback, I would suggest you go right at the fork in the meadow. This will take you down to the dam side of the lake, where there are about four or five primitive campsites, all with awesome views of the lake. The first time we explored this lake, we saw an Outback down in one of these spots camping. It’s doable, but do so at your own risk.


View from the dam side of the lake. Our campsite was directly across the lake from here.

No matter where you end up, the lake is beautiful and offers a lot to explore. We brought our paddleboards, dogs, and hiking shoes. What more could you ask for to make for an awesome weekend in the woods?


Paddleboarding across the lake to a bunch of granite islands (great jumping rocks, too!)


View from the islands up to the granite cliffs that give this lake its name.

3 Comments on “Off-Road Camping: White Rock Lake

  1. Hi Emily. Phyllis Shannon here. So happy for you that you are still doing your adventuring and enjoying your relationship with “your man”. Are you keeping up with Jenn and Jesse on their trek? We were wondering if you might help us maybe present them with a congratulatory presentation when they finish. Not sure what yet. Maybe an edibles bouquet. Call me and please give me your phone number. I have been meaning to get it from Jenn so that we a contact for her if needed. I met your lovely mother In June while you were in Europe. My cell is

    216 402 6140. Take care and thanks. Love, Phyllis



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