Cities

Crystal Bay

Town on North Shore with Casinos. It's in Nevada, but is on the state line with California.

Homewood

A quaint west shore resort town west of Lake Tahoe.

Incline Village

Town on the north shore. Small population.

Kings Beach

Town on north shore; good places to eat.

South Lake Tahoe

It's near the border between California and Nevada. You can sleep in California and head up the road to gamble in Nevada.

Stateline

It's just north of South Lake Tahoe and spans the border of the two states. It gives you 'walk-to' access for the casinos.

Tahoe City

– It's on the northwest shore of Lake Tahoe. One of the two main towns on the lake (along with South Lake) this is a smaller more relaxed town with a slight, mountain hippy feel to it. Tahoe City is considerably less crowded and more relaxed than South Lake Tahoe.

Tahoe Vista

A beautiful Lake Tahoe town on the North Shore.

Truckee

Historic western railroad town off Interstate 80 between Route 89 and 237 northwest of the lake.

Other destinations

Emerald Bay State Park

national park in California

Go next

Sacramento

the California state capital with excellent restaurants and attractions

Reno

in Northern Nevada, home of gambling and the University of Nevada, Reno

California Wine Country

Someday

guide to

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a popular vacation and recreation region straddling the border between California and Nevada. The closest large city is Reno, Nevada. It is especially popular in the summer and winter. Summer activities include golf, boating and hiking. Winter activities include world class skiing, snowmobiling and ice skating. Year round activities include shopping, gambling, eating and taking in the scenery.

Arriving

By car

Getting into the Lake Tahoe region by car is perhaps the most popular method of transportation, but it is not without its hassles and headaches, especially for the first-time visitor.

Winter driving

Be aware that you're driving into a mountainous region that receives heavy snowfall throughout the winter season and other times. Although road conditions are usually clear between April and November, it is not unheard of for heavy snow to fall as late as June, sometimes spontaneously in seemingly warm weather. Always carry snow chains in your car. If roads are slick with snow or ice, CalTrans will implement chain control, which usually means you need chains installed on your tires for the affected stretch of highway unless you are in a four-wheel drive vehicle with snow tires. Before planning your trip, check local weather reports as well as the California Highway Information Network (CHIN) (call +1-800-427-7623 in California or +1 916 445-7623 from elsewhere) for traffic conditions.

If you are already near or in the Lake Tahoe region without snow chains in your car, but you find that you will need them, try to buy them where the locals might, such as a grocery store or auto part franchise. Prices for chains at gas stations visible from the highway will often be twice as expensive!

Some vehicles cannot accept regular snow chains due to low clearance between the wheel and the wheel well or the suspension parts. Your car's manual will have the necessary information regarding this. You may still be able to use a low-clearance chain such as SSC Super Z6 but ensure that it fits and works properly before you depart.

During chain control, men in orange jumpsuits will be on hand to install chains for you for a hefty fee of $30 (sometimes a little more if they need to cut your chains to fit). If you've never installed chains, the convenience of paying an expert do the job in less than five minutes may outweigh the amount of money you save while shuddering in the cold, hunched over the instructions for half an hour. The choice is entirely yours; a good method of learning how to install chains is to watch someone do it the first time so that you know how it to do it yourself the next time — just consider the $30-35 your lesson fee. (Or better yet, have an experienced friend teach you before you even leave.)

Four-wheel drive vehicles with snow tires or "mud and snow" tires almost never need chains — Caltrans usually closes the highway altogether for several hours before requiring four-wheel drive vehicles with chains. The latter tires usually have a "M+S" marking on them.

If you are an experienced driver in snow, you may find it ridiculous to be asked to put on chains. But the Highway Patrol makes no exceptions unless you have 4wd. You can't argue your way out if it, but you'll get over it and you will laugh heartily at the number of cars spinning out of control (even with 4wd) as inexperienced California drivers attempt to handle the snow by driving as if it isn't there. Take their foolishness realistically - they WILL hit you if they get close. Keep your distance.

Front-wheel drive cars with snow tires on the drive wheels under the weight of the engine do very well.

Rear-wheel drive trucks with no weight in the back do the worst.

Cars with bald tires with chains may still slip and be a major road hazard.

Big rig trucks, the 18 wheelers, can jackknife, and spin and crash, and often are the cause of road closures.

Windshield wipers during snowfall: It's best to find and use special windshield wipers for the snow, where the joints in the wipers are covered up and protected, otherwise, they may freeze, and be useless.

Route highways

To North Lake Tahoe: From the San Francisco Bay Area or Sacramento, take interstate highway I-80 East toward Reno and exit highway 89 South to Tahoe City. From Reno, take I-80 West toward Sacramento and exit Truckee taking Highway 267 south to the Lake.

To South Lake Tahoe: From the San Francisco Bay Area or Sacramento, take US Highway 50 East toward South Lake Tahoe. This is by far the most scenic way to enter the Lake Tahoe basin, with soaring views over the entire lake from Echo Summit down the last few miles to the valley floor.

By bus or shuttle

There is an Amtrak train station in Truckee, California, and bus service from various carriers there to points around the lake. Amtrak offers a combined bus/train service from San Francisco (via the Emeryville, California stop) to South Lake Tahoe. Many ski resorts offer bus and shuttle rides from certain pick-up locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Reno, Truckee or from hotels in the Lake Tahoe region. Availability, pick-up locations, schedules and rates vary widely depending on the resort you want to go to. See the Do section below for a list of ski resorts, and check their website or call their office to see what your options are.

By train

Amtrak operates the California Zephyr train, which goes from Emeryville in the San Francisco Bay Area to Chicago, IL and makes a stop in Truckee.

More information available on Wikivoyage

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