Rules & Permits

Desolation Wilderness

Tahoe Rim Trail Regulations

The Tahoe Rim Trail is a multi use trail open to hikers, bikers, and equestrians (Unicycles, Llamas, and four legged friends all work too!). The trail is not open to any motorized vehicles. This includes any form of electric bike.  Please note, there are sections of the Tahoe Rim Trail where bikes (including all variations e.g. unicycles) are not allowed. For information on these regulations visit the Mountain Biking page.  

Trail users camping out on the Tahoe Rim Trail must camp within 300 ft of the trail corridor and at least 200ft from water sources.

Human waste must be disposed of 200ft or more from campsites, water sources, and trails.  Dig a hole 6 to 8 inches deep to bury human waste.  

Leaving refuse, debris or litter is not permitted.  Pack it in and pack it out.  Toilet paper must be fully buried or, preferably, packed out!

Washing with soap in water sources is not permitted as insect repellents, suncreens and soaps all contaminate water sources.  Rinse off these contaminants before swimming.  Wash dishes and gear well away from water sources. Even biodegradable soaps should be utilized and rinsed off away from water sources!

For both day users and overnight visitors, the maximum group size in wilderness areas of the trail is 12.

Damaging or removing natural features is not allowed.  If all of the TRT's over 100,000 users take a souvenir from the trail; there will be no more beautiful wildflowers, giant pine cones, and cool rocks for future trail users to enjoy.  

No camping is allowed at trailheads.


To hike the Tahoe Rim Trail you will only need two permits:

  • a Campfire Permit and
  • a Desolation Wilderness Permit (only if you will be traveling through Desolation Wilderness).

Campfire Permit

If you are planning to hike or backpack on the Tahoe Rim Trail and will be using a campstove, you will need to obtain a California Campfire Permit. NOTE: The use of open fires (campfires) in the Tahoe Basin is strictly prohibited (except for in the Meiss Management Area and the Mt. Rose Wilderness Area when fire restrictions are NOT in place). 

Campfire Permits are required, "for any individuals planning to use an open fire (such as a campfire), barbecue or portable stove on federally controlled lands and private lands that are the property of another person". The state of Nevada does not issue its own campfire permits, but does require individuals to carry a California Campfire Permit in the Nevada backcountry.

You can obtain your California Campfire Permit online in as few as 10 minutes for FREE. Visit to watch a video on campfire safety and complete a short quiz before printing your permit. Permits expire on the last day of the year in which they are issued. Please remember to Leave No Trace, and minimize campfire impacts.

Once you've obtained your permit, it is still your responsibility to check with the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) on seasonal fire restrictions. Fire restrictions may be put into effect when there is a heightened risk of forest fire due to significantly low snowfall/rainfall rates in the preceding season. For questions about seasonal fire restrictions, please call the Forest Service Supervisor's Office at (530) 543-2694, Monday - Friday, 8 AM - 4:30 PM.

Desolation Wilderness Permit

For those of you interested in traveling through Desolation Wilderness along the Tahoe Rim Trail, be aware of the current permitting process.

1. Day Hikers - If you are just going out for a short (or long) day hike, and you will enter into Desolation Wilderness, you need to carry a Day Hike Permit. These are FREE permits, and can be picked up at each of the following trailheads: Echo Lakes, Glen Alpine, Mt. Tallac, Bayview, Eagle Falls and Meeks Bay. You will have to fill out the permit at the trailhead, tear the bottom section off and drop in the permit box, and carry the rest of the permit with you during your hike.

2. Overnight Campers - For those looking to do an overnight (or multiple day) backpacking trip through Desolation Wilderness, you will need an Overnight Camping Permit. We recommend that you get your overnight permit as soon as possible. They are very popular and can go quickly for certain times of the year (summer, holidays and weekends) and in certain camping zones. You can reserve your permit online at Once reserved, you will be able to print your permit within 14 days of the beginning of your trip. NOTE: A quota system is in place for overnight camping in Desolation Wilderness. 70% of overnight camping permits are reservable beforehand, while 30% are available on a first come, first served basis. Click here for more information concerning Desolation Wilderness Permits.

3. TRT and PCT Thru Hikers - Anyone looking to do a Thru Hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail can bypass the quota system and reserve their Overnight Camping Permit through the Forest Service Supervisor's Office. These permits can only be given out within two weeks of when you enter Desolation Wilderness.  Please call (530) 543-2694, Monday - Friday, 8 AM - 4:30 PM to request a permit by mail or you can visit the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit's Supervisor's Office in South Lake Tahoe, CA to pick up your permit. Permits are $20. This is a great option for those who are unsure exactly when and where they will be camping as they pass through Desolation Wilderness on their Thru Hike. Click here for more information concerning Desolation Wilderness Permits.

Nevada State Parks
 - No Permit Needed

No permit is required for traveling or camping in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. However, camping is restricted to 3 established campsites within the park: Marlette Peak, Hobart and North Canyon Campground.