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weekend trip from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe [mid-Dec]

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I need to be in San Francisco for business Monday, December 15 to Friday, December 19. I have some flexibility on arrival and departure times, but thinking about flying into SFO on Sunday night and then taking the following weekend as play time in Lake Tahoe. I have done this once before and got skunked with snow that was worse than I had in New England. Regardless I am at it again!

 

What is the best way to arrange this tip? Last time I just rented a tiny car and drove out on Friday night and back on Sunday morning. Renting a small car always rolls the dice on chain controls out in California. Any other suggestions on transportation? I saw the ski bus, but that seems like a hauling back and forth if I want more than one day on the slopes.

 

Does anyone have experience with bus service between Lake Tahoe and San Francisco? I'm also taking suggestions on where to stay. Priorities are cheap and maybe close to the slopes or a shuttle depending on whether I end up renting a car.

post #2 of 13


Currently hard to project that we will have great snow conditions by then unfortunately, but hopefully things will change quickly.  Why not just fly from SFO to Reno, get cheap lodging in one of the casinos and a few shuttle options available as well as rental cars 

post #3 of 13
Wouldn't have occurred to me either, but there's a $149 round trip SJC to RNO. Leave 11 pm Friday, return 7 am Monday.

That's not much more than gasoline for the drive.
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScotsSkier View Post
 


Currently hard to project that we will have great snow conditions by then unfortunately, but hopefully things will change quickly.  Why not just fly from SFO to Reno, get cheap lodging in one of the casinos and a few shuttle options available as well as rental cars 

Let's ellaborate on this a bit further.... what is available for shuttles from Reno to the Lake Tahoe ski areas?

 

This idea has brought up a whole new idea: fly from home to Reno the weekend before, spend the weekend skiing, fly to SJC first thing Monday morning, work all week, fly back to Reno on Friday, then fly home on Monday. Maybe even take one of those flights that had a 16 hour layover at O'Hare and visit the inlaws three days before Christmas.

post #5 of 13

If you stick with SFO as gateway and do small car rental, consider buying $50 pair of chains at a store that accepts returns.  That way you'll save big on not renting an SUV and still have insurance in case of stormy weather.  Lots of less crowded and lower cost areas to explore around NLT:  Sugarbowl, Homewood, Mt Rose, Diamond Pk, Rose.

post #6 of 13
What's the deal with the chains and insurance?
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by razie View Post

What's the deal with the chains and insurance?

I meant - still have assurance that you can drive through a storm if California Highway Patrol puts "chain control rules" in effect on snowy mtn roads.  I've had car rental personnel at SFO actually encourage me to get the chains when I tried to rent an SUV and they didn't have any in stock.  No auto insurance reasons why they would block you from using them as far as I know.

post #8 of 13
Fly into SFO and out of RNO. One way rental shouldn't cost much more than a RT and you'll need a car in LT anyhow.
I vastly prefer the north shore and Tahoe City is a good location.
post #9 of 13
Quote:
One way rental shouldn't cost much more than a RT

That depends upon the specific one-way.  the difference can be zero (common in Florida) or breathtakingly exorbitant.  Do not commit to anything until you know what the car rental drop charge will be.  Otherwise doing both weekends out of RNO or Shredhead's suggestion are good ideas. 

 

If you fly into Reno for the first weekend you may want to look at Mammoth.  If early storms have varied rain/snow levels at Tahoe, it will still be all snow at Mammoth. On December 9, 2012 Mammoth and Kirkwood (also high elevation) were 100% open and nowhere else in the Sierra was as much as 50% open.

 

Quote:
I vastly prefer the north shore and Tahoe City is a good location.

While this is true for terrain quality, the north shore resorts except for Mt. Rose have low base elevations which can be a critical issue in early season as noted above.

post #10 of 13
In case it wasn't obvious, I mentioned SJC because it was half the price of SFO. I have no experience with that flight (or airport for that matter ) and don't know if it is always available.
post #11 of 13

I am not sure, but I believe chais which you can buy at Walmart.. can be returned back for $$ if unused... Am I correct?

Ski Bus option could be arranged: you could get from SF -> Lake Tahoe Resort one day and get your ride back from Lake Tahoe Resort -> SF next day, or few days next.

Regardless of that you would probably still need a transportation between ski resort(s) and hotel/motel, so renting a small car is probaly more relaibale option.

post #12 of 13

Some of the factors not been clarified.

 

You're in SFO for business. So I presume your flight is already accounted for by your employer, but does that means you can fly into other airports other than SFO/SJC? (unless you ARE the employer and covering the bill for the whole trip!)

 

Same about car rental. If you're already covered for a rental during the week, then one of the weekend will be at no extra cost. See if you can get a Subi which wouldn't have any chain issue. 

 

But even if not, you're only driving during a very short window, you can look at the forecast and decide if you need a SUV or not. 

 

I think your own idea of flying into RNO and catch a flight to SFO/SJC on Monday & Friday would be the best (or you could fly to Bay Area Sunday evening after skiing. There's a late flight out of RNO to SJC by Southwest. I've done that once or twice myself).

 

Southwest has multiple flights each day between RENO and SJC. That would be your best bet.

 

For lodging, your priority being cheap (and clean), I'd suggest looking into staying at the casinos. For north shore, you have the option of either staying at Reno (good if you'll be skiing at Mt Rose but other mountains will be a longer drive), or just across the state line from Tahoe City (technically Incline Village or Crystal Bay). A lot of the times, you can get a package with lift tickets too. 

post #13 of 13

Hi, We usually go to Sierra at Tahoe.  They are one of the bigger resorts in terms of runs and have lots of moderate/ advanced runs and nice views of Lake Tahoe from the top.  

 

The advantage is that you do not have to drive all the way into the Tahoe valley.  We usually stay overnight in Placerville.  The itinerary goes like this: leave SF after dinner to avoid traffic.  2 -21/2 hours max,  - Freeway all the way.  Arrive in time to get a good nights sleep.  

 

Wake up the next day and enjoy the scenic 50 min drive to Sierra -at Tahoe.  The two-lane road winds along the river.  The scenery is beautiful in the morning when you are well rested and excited about a day of skiing.  It is miserable at night on a dark windy road trying to get to Tahoe.  

 

After a day of skiing head back East below the snow line to Placerville (if it is snowing chain controls usually start a few miles east of Placerville) and stay one more night in Gold country before an easy 2-21/2 hour drive home to San Francisco.  

As long it is not snowing the day you actually go skiing you are fine and do not have to go over the mountain on your ride home.  

 

Amtrak will take you from SF to South Lake, with a stop in Placerville on the way.  It is a train to Sacramento then an Amtrak bus to Placerville and on to South Lake Tahoe.  You can ski in Tahoe but then the bus still has to drive the same two lane mountain road with all the traffic and a chance of snow closure to get home.  

 

This is why we like Placerville as a place to stay.  I would rent a car and overnight is 

Placerville.  .  

 

Wendy  

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