Transportation Options to Lake Tahoe


Whether for a weekend getaway or a weeklong vacation, Tahoe is a favorite of many Californians in addition to visitors from all over the world. Depending on season, Tahoe offer everything from a day of skiing to a sunny hike in the woods, to an evening of casino live entertainment.

Lake Tahoe is found straddling the border between California and Nevada. From Tahoe it's 200 miles west to San Francisco and 30 miles north to Reno. People often refer to the North or South shore of Tahoe. Things of interest on the North shore, primarily ski resorts, are mostly in California, whereas most of the activity, including hotels and casinos, of the South shore are in Nevada.

Driving to Lake Tahoe by Car

The easiest access to the North shore is via I-80 from Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay area or Reno. At Truckee take CA 89 south into Tahoe City or Squaw Valley, or take US 50 to South Lake Tahoe from Sacramento or the Bay Area. To get to the South Shore from Reno take US395 south through Carson City, then follow US 50 West to the Lake.

In the winter huge snowfalls can make tire chains a requirement for driving to or around Lake Tahoe. Current driving conditions can be found at the bottom of this page, or check with CalTrans (www.dot.ca.gov). Also look over the following winter driving checklist because an ounce of prevention can save a lot of problems.

Winter driving checklist

– Check that your brakes, windshield wiper, defroster and heater are working properly.

– Make sure your antifreeze is fresh and the radiator is full. It's a good idea to add special solvents to your windshield washer tank to keep it from freezing.

– Check your tires and carry the proper chains for your vehicle. A flashlight and chain repair kit can be vital. Have an accurate road map, a cell phone and emergency numbers and keep an extra key in your wallet or with another person in the vehicle.

– Additionally carry an ice scraper or de-icer, a broom, a shovel and towels. In case you really get stuck bring food, water, warm clothing and blankets.

– Allow extra time for the trip since winter conditions will show you down.

– Keep your tank full of gas.

– Most importantly, slow down. Ice and fog can put you out of control in seconds. Keep a much greater distance between you and other cars and stay extra alert for sudden changes in conditions. Maximum speed limit with chains is 25-30 mph.

– You must stop and put on chains if told to do so by an officer or posted signs.

There are several all-weather highways around Lake Tahoe except during the most severe weather. These include US 50 east over Echo Summit, CA 88 North from Stockton, CA 207 over the Kingsbury Grade, US 395 to US 50 West at Carson City and finally Highway 431 over Mount Rose going from Reno.

Getting to Tahoe by Bus

Because getting to Tahoe is always a nasty slog during the winter skiing months why not take a bus? A bus lets you relax and know that an experienced driver will be dealing with the problems.

Bay Area Ski Bus will pick you up in Belmont, Corte Madera, Novato, Oakland, Pleasanton, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Walnut Creek at about 4am and return the same evening. They go to Northstar, at Tahoe, Kirkwood, Alpine and Squaw Valley but the destinations vary each week. Check the website for details.

NAC Ski will pick you up in Berkeley, Concord, Dublin, Milpitas, Pleasanton, Redwood City, San Francisco, San Jose, San Mateo and sometimes in Sacramento and go to different destinations each week.

Fly to Lake Tahoe

You can get to Lake Tahoe by airplane. The closest commercial airports are Sacramento and Reno. Big Foot Air offers charter flights to Lake Tahoe from San Francisco and Gary Air (www.infomart.com/GaryAir) offers an air taxi service from a number of California airports.

Private pilots can fly into the Truckee-Tahoe Airport or the South Lake Tahoe Airport. You can get transportation from several of the ski resorts to and from the Reno airport. Check with Squaw Creek and Northstar.

Take the train to Lake Tahoe

The Amtrack California Zephyr runs through Truckee from the Bay Area.

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Source by Sam Berman