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Lake Tahoe-January 2005

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Is it OK to drive from SFO in January or should I fly to Reno and take a Casino shutttle
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
The unhelpful response, but it is true, is that you should be ok going from SFO as long as there is not a substantial Sierra storm coinciding with your trip. We did the drive last March and it was no problem, but the sun shone all the way. We were going to the North end of the Lake so it was Interstate virtually all the way and you do not start climbing in altitude until the last third of the 220 mile trip. If it is snowing they might enforce the chain controls and we did pass various areas where they check for chains. If you are driving a 4wd you may not need chains. The weather there seems to be big storms with huge snow dumps then sun then another storm so it can be very difficult to predict travel in advance. If you are at all nervous about it go for the flight to Reno. The transfer after that is pretty short and in good weather should be no problem.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Thanks Colin. Doyou recommend a 4x4 for the journey or is it possible to hire snow chains.I am currently looking at car hire sites for comparison.Any recommendations. I did nitice on one site that you can pay £2 per day extra for snow tyres .Did you hire ski's. Can you recommend a hotel/ motel and ski hire shop.


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Mon 8-11-04 23:28; edited 1 time in total
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I've never had a problem driving from SF. I've only driven from Reno round the North of the lake to the California side in summer (and then a long time ago), but I would reckon it's dodgier during/after a storm (narrower, bendier and higher altitude) than the route from SF to Truckee.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Thanks Laundryman,I was thinking that if we had a car we could visit a number of the different ski area's around the Lake.Are some better than others. Are there some to avoid --like Norquay in the Banff/lake louise area.We have skied for over 20 years so nothing bothers us
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su-ski,
If you drive from SFO in January then get a 4x4 _and_ get snow chains. Which end of the lake are you heading for? If you are heading to the North you'll be on I80, this is a pretty good road and is kept clear, though in a storm (like when I drove there!) it can be a bit hairy, the police may stop you and turn you back if you do not have a 4x4 (with suitable tyres) or car with chains - in extreme weather you may have to have a 4x4 and chains.
If you are heading for the south lake (except maybe Kirkwood, which is incidently imho the best place, you may be on the I88), you'll probably be on I50 which would probably be much worse in snow as it's much more twisty, but still well cleared apparently (I88 would be worse still) - I've only done the I50 and I88 in nice weather, which was, well nice snowHead
Generally the drive from San Fran is not too bad unless you try and do it on Friday night (as I did once) in which case the traffic can be really bad all the way to Sacramento and beyond.
Not sure about driving from the North lake to the south, I've only done the narrow west lake route which is incredibly scenic, but still rather unnerving in places in a big 4x4 on totally clear roads Shocked

My favourites are squaw and Kirkwood - unfortunately just about the furthest 2 apart, they were both excellent. Sugar Bowl is worth popping in for a day, it is just off the I80 on the way from San Francisco before you get to Truckee.
Alpine Meadows was nice as well, though quite small so perhaps only good for a day or so.
Heavenly was OK, the snow wasn't great when we were there, but in good snow I'd imagine it would have good tree skiing. I absolutely hated South Tahoe, unless you like huge cheesy casinos there is not a lot there imho, though its 'village' was getting buit up it still didn't really consist of much when we were there (may be better now as construction was in progress), the rest of south tahoe was strung out across several miles of road.
Tahoe City (which isn't a city!) on the north shore of the lake was much nicer.
I wasn't particularly impressed with Northstar or Sierra at Tahoe, though again the snow wasn't great (25C T-shirt skiing weather in March!)


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Tue 9-11-04 11:53; edited 1 time in total
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
su-ski, Very wise to drive around. No resort takes more than a couple of days to cover most of the ground. Like stuarth, Squaw Valley is my favourite, but then I'm also not into casinos (won't have to go all the way to Nevada soon anyway!)
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
You would be far better off with a car than without, unless you are just going for a few days. The areas, individually, are not that big, but there are lots of them and a car gives you great freedom.

We always hire a 4wd but never chains and we have had no problem getting through the checkpoints. We tend to use Alamo, mainly habit but they have never caused me any hassle in maybe 15 years going to the States a fair bit

We always stay in Incline Village at the North End of the Lake, in an apartment so I cant really say on hotels etc. It is on the Nevada side (the border bisects the Lake) so there are casinos there. The plushest hotel is the Hyatt which does ski packages and looks fine.

We have hired from

http://www.villageskiloft.com/

Absolutely no problem, nice people and I recommend them. You can do it all online I think

Likewise our accomodation which we did through

http://www.vacationstation.com/

Again no problems etc with them and all done on line or by email.

Incline is handily placed for all of the North Lake resorts and an ok drive-in good weather- to Heavenly. It always looked a bit of a trek to Kirkwood, so we never did that.Like the above South Lake Tahoe was not my cup of tea. Incline is a bit quiet so if you are after nightlife it is not great for that.

You can get more iinfo on www.epicski.com where there are various threads about Tahoe resorts
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Thanks Colin, some really useful info.
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
The drive from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe is not normally a difficult one.

If you need chains, there are plenty of places that will sell and fit them en route.

I don't think the hire firms supply them.

If you don't need a car for the duration, Hertz and Avis do one way rentals. Smaller firms do not.

It is advisable to book car hire before you arrive. The firms can run out of vehicles.

You can get to Sierra easily and there are regular buses to Kirkwood and Squaw Valley. A car is not needed for Heavenly itself
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Thanks Latchigo,I am still undecided where to go to. I took advantage of the Daily mail's cheap flights from Newcastle to SFO.I have initially made a provisional booking in South Lake Tahoe but can cancel and re-arrange somewhere else.I was wondering whether it is possible to have a few days in Mammoth.Do you know whether it is feasible to travel down there in January,presumably skiers from northern california need to travel down the 395 route to get there so they must keep the road clear
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
We were looking into Mammoth for this year. The most direct route from SFO will not be available in Winter because it uses mountain passes which are now closed. Once again go over to epicski.com as I am sure there was a thread recently about getting to Mammoth from the Bay Area.

This is from www.mammothlakes.com

San Francisco & Sacramento: Interstate 80 east to
Hwy 50 east to the Kingsbury Grade cutoff to
Hwy 395 south to Hwy 203;320 miles

If we were going we would fly to LA. It looks easier and is about the same distance

From Reno it is

Reno: Hwy 395 south to
Hwy 203; 168 miles

Dont know what the roads are like but someone on epicski will
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Thanks Colin,decisions,decisions. I will probably err on the cautious side for the first time and concentrate on the Tahoe area.It's only £65 to fly to Reno and it will be a much shorter drive from there.There sounds to be plenty of choice just in this area alone without having to venture too far. I remember calling in at Mammoth in early may one year and the ski-ing looked great even then,the locals saying they can normally ski up to July.It would probably be easier to travel there in April/May .I may keep Mammoth for another time.Thanks for your comments
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