Grover Hot Springs State Park

We went to Lake Tahoe, hoping to camp at Sugar Pine Point, because it’s open all winter, except it was closed.  The reason given was that there had been too much snow fall.  To be fair, the snow snow covered the permanent bear boxes.  It would have been a lot of work to keep the site serviceable, but still, they could have simply stipulated that guests have to clear out their own bear bags.

We ended up snow-shoeing instead.  It was fun, leisurely, and passed the time.  When it came time to find somewhere to sleep, we got in the car and kept calling places until we found Grover Hot Springs State Park.

This place was a serious find.  It’s an hour from Sugar Pine Point, but absolutely worth it.  The snow cover there was a foot or less, but that was ok.  We just set up the tent on the snow and went to sleep.  It had a clean bathroom, so that was good.  The nice part of the site was that it wasn’t far from a perfect sized river.

The real find came when we realized we were five minutes away from a hot spring you could get into.  It was a huge pool steaming hot surrounded by snow.  Next to the hot spring pool was a regular pool heated to 85 degrees so you could cool off.

Sitting in the hot spring, surrounded by snow covered meadows and mountains is the way to go.  Absolutely come here if you have the chance.

Winter Camping Trip II

Went back to Lake Tahoe area for another winter camping trip, this time by myself.  All I can say it it was an experience.

First, it took 20 hours to get there.  Google Maps apparently doesn’t notify you of slowdown in excess of three hours.  Next time I’ll just turn around, this the purpose of this trip was to test out sleeping the bed of the truck, under the tonneau cover.

Verdict: Only sleep under a tonneau cover if you have no other options.

Yes, it provides you 100% wind protection and a good deal of physical security, but it is largely unpleasant.  You have less than a foot clearance over your face.  Getting dressed to step out into the cold is difficult as well.

The weather was 25F during the day and 15 at night.

I realized when I woke up that while I could open the locking mechanism to the DiamondBack HD tonneau cover I have from the inside easily, if the outside lock were to freeze, I would be stuck.  That would be bad.

Since there are several places you must sleep in your truck, such as California Sno-Parks, I’m researching my next best options.

Sugar Pine Point Campground, Lake Tahoe

Visited here the weekend of January 19.  I highly recommend it for winter car camping, especially if you have kids.

I tried several campsites and all were either officially closed or snowed in.  Sugar Pine Point is right on Lake Tahoe and was reasonably plowed, right up to where I could park the truck.  Furthermore, it had metal boxes for storing food, picnic tables, fire pits, and was just a short walk to the lake.

We had easily over a foot of snow everywhere, temperature in the morning was 25 degrees and it climbed to 33.  About as good as you can get if you want snow.

Rejuvenating old water-repelling gear

I have a few old jackets that were water-proof/resistant in their prime.  Currently researching the best products to make them as functional as possible so I can avoid simply donating them away.

Products to Try

Sport Wash

Sport Wash Laundry Detergent



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Gear Aid ReviveX Durable Water Repellent For Outerwear



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Performance Polymer Water Proofer


Opportunistic buys

I picked up the REI Co-op Amorphum Utility Parka today for 50% off.  Feels very comfortable.  About as heavy as a coat as you’d want in San Francisco.  We’ll see how well it does.


Update: It did well at Lake Tahoe in 25 degrees dry conditions.  I wouldn’t use this for wet, but it was good in the dry, and the removable liner comes in handy when you warm up.

Update 2: Returned the parka because it was just too big.  It’s no longer on sale so I couldn’t downsize.

Winter boots

We don’t get any snow in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I only need winter snow boots when I go winter camping. For that reason, I didn’t do a ton of research and just picked out the Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat Mid Calf Boot.


We’ll see how well it holds up.

Update: These were fantastic in 18 inches of snow at 25 degrees.  I wasn’t working up much of a sweat, mostly standing around, and my feet were quite warm in wool socks and these boots.

We’ll see how they hold up in wet conditions.