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Drive from SLT to SF

1 post
Drive from SLT to SF

I’ll stay at heavenly ski resort on 24-26 Dec.

Then drive to SF. I fly from Portland with wife and three kids (5,7,9 yrs)

Anyone know about road condition such as snow and traffic? Is it difficult to drive? Will it take much more time than shown in google?

Or is it better to fly? And if I choose this plan, should I rent a car for driving to resort and drive back to airport on 26 Dec or take the airport bus?

4 replies to this topic
Santa Clara...
Level Contributor
24,309 posts
25 reviews
1. Re: Drive from SLT to SF

How are you getting to SLT? You can fly to Portland without going back to SF. Reno airport is the closest to SLT at 45 mins away and their are aiport shuttles.

Oh I see you are flying from Portland and need to get back to SF.

You can also take the bus/train/bus option on Amtrak.

Edited: 22 October 2018, 08:40
Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
33,197 posts
6,438 reviews
2. Re: Drive from SLT to SF

Do you want to visit San Francisco or just fly from there?

If just fly, its easier to fly out of Reno Airport back to Portland.

If you are planning to visit San Francisco and drive,

you need to check road and weather conditions.

If its clear out (no snow) then the roads are fine to drive, Roads open in the winter are 80, 50, and 88,

From South Lake Tahoe ideally drive 50,

Sometimes storms are such one of the other passes is not impacted by a storm for a few hours so do check local weather broadcasts such as KOLO.

If it is snowing, then of course, it may mean that the roads can close. No one can predict the weather this far out (which I know you now.). If it is heavy, the roads can close. December its generally for a few hours so if you are flexible, then its not as big of deal as January and February where roads can close for several days if heavy multi-day storms.

Its best in the winter to drive during the daylight hours.

The easiest and fastest way is to fly into either Oakland or San Francisco Check Alaska or Southwest.

Often I find its less expensive to fly into Oakland than San Francisco.

In terms of the train, it leaves around 8:30 a.m from Reno. Its downtown by Harrahs, Eldorado casinos, etc.

There is a shuttle from South Lake Tahoe to Reno you can take. The issue is its early morning so if you took the train you might want to stay the last night in Reno. In terms of the train, it can be on time or it can arrive a few hours late if impacted by weather or slow moving freight trains, for example.

Edited: 22 October 2018, 20:14
South Lake Tahoe...
Level Contributor
183 posts
12 reviews
3. Re: Drive from SLT to SF

You can't fly from Tahoe so you have to drive to Reno and hour and a half away.

The drive shouldn't be too bad trafficwise as most will probably stay until Sunday. You are going the good way over the mountain so the other side is looking over the edge of a valley. It is a mountainous road that turns a lot. You should be fine. Now to the kicker: if it snows on the 26th you will need to wait a day to go home or buy chains. Rental cars don't allow chains. It is rare that chain controls are on more than a day. I have only seen the road closed a few times in my life.

Manhattan Beach...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach
Level Contributor
21,890 posts
3 reviews
4. Re: Drive from SLT to SF

"Reno airport is closest to SLT at 45 min"

Actually, it's only 45 min to Incline Village, NV in the north from Reno airport. It's an hour and half drive to Heavenly from RNO in the south.

That brings up the question of car seats. You will need two seats for CA laws, up to 8 years old. Will you bring from home or reserve with car rental?

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