BLM Campground Review – Walker Lake Recreation Area, Hawthorne, NV
A pretty lakeside setting perfect for a few nights on Walker Lake just north of Hawthorne in West Nevada.
Link to campground here: Walker Lake BLM Recreation Area, Hawthorne, NV
Link to map location here: Walker Lake BLM Recreation Area, Hawthorne, NV
- Site Quality = 3/5
There are 3 main camping areas around Walker Lake with varying quality of site. From south to north along the western side of the lake:
- Sportsman’s Beach –> This is the first camping area you pass driving north from Hawthorne, NV on Hwy 95 and it is also the only “developed” camping area on the Lake. The sites right at the entrance (#1-16) are far too close to the road and not very nice (skip these), but the sites down the road (esp. in the bottom loop #22-32 by the lake area) are spacious, flat gravel pull-throughs with picnic table, shelter and fire-pit -> excellent separation with great views of the lake from just about every site here. Also since these sites are located somewhat down the hill from Hwy 95 they are nicely quiet (very little road noise). Sites here cost $6/night ($36/week) and are all first-come-first-serve. Pit toilet & trash on-site. No dump. No hookups (dry-camping only).
- Tamarack Beach -> This is the second camping area north of Hawthorne. It is basically the crumbled remains of an old campground and is semi-dispersed in nature. Sites here are old paved sites, mostly very uneven although a few are level enough for any-sized rig. You can also drive further down the road and camp by the beach (beware -> road gets sandy & soft very, very fast). Main negative here is that you are very close to Hwy 95 and will hear/see almost constant road-noise (also your rig will be very visible from the road). On-site pit toilet and trash. Sites here officially cost $4/night ($22/week) although there is no pay station or indication to this effect at the camping area (the only pay station is at Sportsman’s Beach).
- 20-Mile Beach -> This is the last camping area north of Hawthorne and has the most “boondocking” feel to it. There is a paved road leading down to the camping area followed by semi-paved or dirt roads leading around to various dispersed camping sites of various sizes (mostly medium-sized sites, but a few “beastly” options too). No developed or fixed sites here and you can camp anywhere all the way down to the beach (beware -> road gets sandy & soft very, very fast). Some road noise here, but several sites are down behind a small hill giving reprieve from Hwy 95. On site pit toilet and trash. Sites here officially cost $4/night ($22/week) although there is no pay station or indication to this effect at the camping area (the only pay station is at Sportsman’s Beach).
- Facilities = 2/5
Very basic facilities here. There are pit toilets in each of the three camping areas plus dumpsters for household trash, but there is no dump station or water. Nearest dump is behind El Capitan Casino in town (free).
- Location = 3.5/5
A bit of a mixed location here. On the positive side all three camping areas are along pretty Walker Lake with excellent views of the water and majestic Mt. Grant in the background. Plus you are only ~5-10 miles from Hawthorne which offers shopping (Safeway) and some interesting sightseeing. On the negative side you are right next to fairly busy Hwy 95 and (depending which campground you choose) you’ll hear/see road-noise quite regularly. Lastly the lake is rather salty and not really conducive to fishing or recreation (water levels are below the boat launch ramp).
- Pet Friendliness = 4/5
Very nice location for doggie. Lots of space around camp and miles (and miles) of shoreline to walk/hike. Only negative is that the lake is very salty and so you need to be careful to keep pooch from drinking the water (not really great for swimming).
Overall Rating = 3.1
BONUS ALERT = Camp with a full view of Walker Lake & majestic Mt. Grant!
Summary: Walker Lake is an interesting little stop-over along Hwy 95 with some rather mixed camping and some equally confusing info on costs. There are three main camping areas from south to north along the western shore of the lake all of which are primitive (no hookups). The first camping area is Sportsman’s Beach which has nice developed gravel sites with picnic table, shelters & fire-pit. The second is Tamarack Beach which is the crumbling remains of an old campground containing rather uneven paved sites. The third is dispersed camping at 20-Mile Beach which has the clearest feel of a “boondocking” area. In each area you are also permitted to camp outside of the sites closer to the shoreline, but you need to be aware that the ground becomes sandy and very soft very fast (be very, very careful). Each campground has pit toilets and household trash dumpsters plus excellent views of the lake, but they vary somewhat in how close they are to Hwy 95 (and thus how noisy). Tamarack is the most visible/noisy followed by 20-Mile and finally Sportsman’s. The other confusing thing about these campgrounds are costs. Sportsman’s Beach is a proper, developed campground and has a pay-station & cost info ($6/night or $36/week). Tamarack & 20-Mile have no pay stations or even any indication (at all) that they are fee areas, yet the sign at Sportsman’s Beach clearly indicates that both of these are paid campgrounds ($4/night or $22/week). I don’t know how you would know this without driving into Sportsman’s and reading the sign plus there never seem to be any rangers on patrol. For this reason people just assume Tamarack & 20-Mile are free and they are listed as “free campgrounds” on freecampsites.net, rvparkreviews & most of the blog sites I’ve been to (the only site that correctly lists the fees are overnightrvparking.com). Well, now we know and you know too! All campgrounds are close to Hawthorne which has decent shopping & interesting sightseeing plus you are right next to Walker Lake shoreline which is very salty, but rather pretty and open to miles of hiking. We enjoyed our few days at Tamarack (didn’t see another rig the entire time we were there), but didn’t really like how visible we were from the road and got very tired of the highway noise after a while. If we come back this way we will definitely stay again but will chose to stay in the bottom loop at Sportsman’s Beach (clearly the nicest/quietest and our #1 choice), followed by 20-Mile (#2 choice) with Tamarack as our last option. All in all I would say Walker Lake is not really a spot to stay longer-term, but is a neat (and very pretty) stop-over for a few days when traveling down Hwy 95.
Extra Info: Excellent 3G & 4G LTE Verizon signal (4 bars of each). Sites cost $6/night (Sportsman’s Beach) or $4/night (Tamarack & 20-Mile). Campgrounds accept senior pass for 50% off & the only pay-station is at Sportsman’s Beach. On-site pit toilets & household trash, but no hookups, dump station or water. Nearest dump in Hawthorne at El Capitan Casino (free).
Extra, Extra Info – OTHER CAMPING: If you decide you’d rather stay right in town El Capitan Casino offers free camping right behind the casino in a large gravel lot. Also, for those who prefer hookups Whisky Flats RV Park is just north of town and offers very nice full hookup sites in a clean, well-kept park.SPONSORED LINK:
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
We really appreciate your pics and review as we will be here in about two weeks. The advisement of soft sand … Thank you!
Enjoy the area! It’s a sweet little stop…and the price is fine too 🙂
Jodee Gravel says
Another great little treasure! Nevada’s tourism board should be paying you for giving us a glimpse of the state’s true potential :-). We would definitely stay here for a couple nights.
LOL…maybe I should contact them for a commission 🙂 it’s definitely worth a stop here. Hope you manage to get your rig this way at some point.
I had hoped to head home to Ogden on hwy 95, but my honey do list snuck up on me.
I’ll keep this stop on next year’s bucket list.
This actually looks like my kind of place. I don’t fish or swim, but I do love a water view. It’s good to see that there are free and/or inexpensive options for larger rigs. We currently have a 34-foot fifth wheel but hope/plan to move to a 35-36 foot Class A in a few more years. Your blog is welcome news that I won’t have to abandon hopes of boondocking when we make that switch.
We’re very similar in that we don’t fish or swim (typically…although doggie loves the water) so we’re very happy with just a pretty view. You won’t have any problems boondocking most of NV in your new size. Lots and lots of BLM out here with plenty of empty space.
Cheryl oftwomanyadventures says
A little bit on info regarding Walker Lake. In the late summer (August), the area has quite a lot of spiders. I was told they were tarantulas migrating through. My little doggies got covered in sticky spider webs when they went out. Not a big fan of spiders, but migrating spiders are kinda cool!
You know I did see a sign about spiders in Sportsman’s when I was there, but didn’t read it through. Interesting info. I happen to like spiders (and lizards), but it’s good info for those who don’t. No spiders at all this time of year (April).
Karen Kendall says
Note to self – visit in April NOT August. One or two spiders OK. Migrating spiders conjurs up images of migrating flocks of cranes or geese. The site looks wonderful in April. LOL
Thanks for another great site review. You’re making me relish the future prospects of RVing in the state of Nevsda, especially the clear blue skies, and the water views are always a bonus too. Boondocking with fee others around? Priceless.
Enjoy it for a while, as I know you’re heading up here to Washington this summer, but the weather here has been cool, cloudy and raining…still…yet…again…some more…
Take your time and enjoy more fun in the sun! I’ll keep watching for more posts from you.
We’ve got a few more weeks of desert before we head into the NW, although I have to admit we’re ready for some green now. It’s been a great winter in the SW, but now I could use a change of pace. Might even be looking forward to a bit of rain (I know, I know…be careful what you wish for LOL)
Lol indeed. But by the time you get up here we should be into our awesome summer weather pattern. But you’ll definitely be in the green here. I’m sure it’s a bit of a change after the desert for 5-6 months.
As much as I think the deserts can be beautiful in all their own ways, they can also get rather austere.
Will some of your Nevada travels take you thru any of the somewhat more treed/forested areas of the state? I’ve seen some beautiful pics of some of these Nevada places.
Keep on Wheelin the good life!
Not this time around. Our original Nevada jello plan had us heading through the middle of the state which would have taken us into some of the tree’d areas up in the central-north area, but the route we ended up taking (along the western side) will have us in high desert until we leave the state. We traded aliens for trees this time around 🙂 next time we’ll do the other route.
Keith Jackson says
We are camped there now. Judging by your pictures we are in almost the same spot you in. Can’t wait to explore the area and learn more about the history.
Thanks for your blog!
Oh excellent! Enjoy the downtown museums!
I am the administrator for a Facebook page – Walker Lake Working Group. We are actively working to save this lake. Litigation has gone on for 23 years and we are FINALLY near the finish line with more water coming to our Lake. We hope that with the increase of water levels the beaches will improve also. ~ With your permission, I would like to use your “guide” created and add it to our Facebook page as well as our website that is under construction. Thank you for your kind words of out “Desert Jewel”.
That is fabulous news indeed! Very happy to hear preservation of the lake is in such good hands. Feel free to link-up to my guide if you’d like. I’d prefer you didn’t copy/paste the whole thing, but a write-up and/or summary and link would be absolute fine.
Jeff Agueda says
Thank you very much for your review of Walker Lake and Sportsman’s Beach. Your review was very helpful and spot on. Cheers!
Excellent! Glad you enjoyed the area!
Sandy Bettison says
I’am going camping there in June, does it fill up in June 2016, since you can’t reserve a spot? also i read the reviews about the spiders, now i’am worried, i have camp there before and didn’t see any spiders, can anybody give me some feedback, thanks
I can’t imagine this place filling up, but if it does there’s several other free camping areas around here, including the in-town Casino. I don’t have any experience with the spiders (there were none when we were here) so can’t tell you more.
Norman lee says
Used to go there once a month on my way to hawthorne. Quiet place, good to reflect…has same feeling as pyramid. Seldom see anyone there. Never have seen boats either. Will be visiting in august…hope spiders are finished migrating….never cared for them. Neat place to visit…a jewel in the dessert. Happy trails. Colonel norman lee.
Thx for your thorough review! We would have missed the second loop at Sportsman’s if not the entire campsite! The explanation about pricing was very helpful, too. After a long day of driving, that’s the last thing I want to be trying to figure out. Thank you.