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Snow chain required to sugarbowl

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I'm thinking of going up to sugar bowl from the bay area via I-80 then HW-40. It says on the sugarbowl website that the distance on HW-40 is about 3 miles. I was wondering whether snow chains are usually required when it snows on that route since weather forecast seems to be predicting 30% chance of snow this weekend. Basically, I'm trying to decide whether I should rent an SUV if I want to go to sugarbowl this weekend or not.


post #2 of 14
Even if you have an SUV with 4 wheel drive, will you still be required to have chains?
post #3 of 14
Don't drive in the Sierras in the winter without chains. Weather conditions can change rapidly and Caltrans loves chain controls.
post #4 of 14
That portion of Highway 40 is at 7000'. While the storms that are coming through look to be small CalTrans needs to plan for the crazy driving that occurs. So if there's chain control on I80 there will be chain control on old-40. The solution is to take your regular car and carry chains. 4wd only buys you a pass in R1 chain conditions but chains work better anyway. Plus you won't have the undue confidence of the typical suv driver.

Couple of other thoughts. The speed limit along old-40 varies between 25 and 35 - please observe the posted speed limits if you can see them behind the snow banks. Don't even think about taking old-40 down to Truckee if there's snow unless you know what you're doing.
post #5 of 14
this site is the offilca cal trans road condtions page. simple to use.
post #6 of 14

This is the offical road condtions web page. It is updated often.
post #7 of 14

Chains to Sugarbowl

Always carry chains when in the Sierras in winter. Hwy 80 via 40 to Sugar Bowl is all uphill and if theres snow on the road you will need chains if youre not 4x4 with good tires. I have followed enough squirrly non chain drivers to know how uncool/stupid and dangerous those people can be. ALSO spent 5 hours behind a wreck on 80 and when finally cleared the idiot in front of me refused to dig himself out (I had shovel) AND had no chains on his winter ready bald tired Chevy Chevette. Got some (about 12) gtruck drivers behind me and wes picked up his car and put it on the side of the road so we could get by him. You don't have to buy/rent an suv just get some chains at a discount auto store, put them on your car at home to make sure they fit properly, make sure you have some big rubbers band holders/tighteners and go. Have fun-stay safe the life you protect may be my kid. (former Tahoe Skier of 33yrs)
post #8 of 14
Thanks. Flying into SAC on the 8th of March and have a 4wd reserved. Driving to South Lake for the first week then to Truckee for the second. Was hoping not to have to buy chains.
post #9 of 14

I have a 4WD. I don't carry chains. Before Caltrans gets to a stage where they require SUVs to put chains on - they will have closed the roads down. so I have never had to put chains on my SUV.

having said that - one of the most treacherous roads I have driven on - is that 3 miles from the exit to the sugarbowl parking lot. it does not get cleared as much as 80 gets - so there is a thick crust of ice/snow on that road. the KEY is to drive VERY slowly (25 mph or lesser) - and slow down even before you get to this exit. there is stop sign(or a traffic light) immediately after the exit. I had 2 accidents on that road 2 yrs back - in my van with chains on. I was not able to stop in time so I shot past the road - luckily no cross traffic at that time. I swerved hard to avoid some parked cars on the right - and I hit a snow bank, luckily.

So drive slowly.
post #10 of 14


Ullr, I see youre from Va. are you familiar with Tahoe if not let me know and I can give ou some recommendations or answer questions.
post #11 of 14
Thanks Pete. Yea, grew up in North East PA. Moved down here about 15 years ago. Been out west a few times but never to Tahoe. Just the wife and I are going (kids staying with Grandma). Using my frequent flyer miles, so I have to fly into SAC, but it didn't look like too bad a drive to Tahoe. Like I said we are going to be there for two weeks. The first week in South Lake, and staying at the Travel Lodge. Doing Heavenly and Kirkwood. Staying in Truckee for the second week. Doing Squaw and maybe Northstar. We got Tahoe cards for discounts (I was too late on trying to get a sixpack).

Wife likes groomers. She can ski all blues and groomed blacks in VT, so she should be ok on most blues out there. Any additional info would be great.

post #12 of 14
I spent a good 30 minutes during the last storm pulling 2 cars and a truck (all 4w or awd) out of snow banks. Just from the sugarbowl/judah turn to the gondola lot.. All without lockers and without chains on.

Carry chains, go slow etc... The fine is stiff for being caught without chains. especially if you endup getting caught and the CHP has to pull you out of the ditch.

SUV is no guarantee.

post #13 of 14


ULLR, Sorry on delay getting back to you been powder skiing at Schweitzer for 2 days-really great. Going to Tahoe for lst Time. South shore yes ski Heavenly and Kirkwood for sure. I prefer Kirkwood, better snow less crowded etc. If you are going to ski on Weekends try to avoid Heavenly or Squaw and ski at a smaller resort. There are many good restaurants etc. at the Casinos etc. you can wander the casinos and look at the menu's for sselection and price etc. At south shore don't forget Sierra at Tahoe you will pass this resort on the way up to Tahoe on HWY 50. If your wife likes groomers etc. they have some really excellent blues. Good place.

North shore. I usually stay at the Tahoe Biltmore Casino and Hotel, good price, great food prices, free breakfast, gambling etc., easy walk to casino across st. Cal Neva Casino etc. Really recommend this restaurant: (your wife will love it) Soule Domain, right behind the Biltmore, its an old fixed up poney express relay station log cabin. Absoultely great food, not cheap but not expensively ridiculous either. At incline Village there are good eateries also, look in phone book ask around. If you have to ski on weekend for lack of crowds 1)Homewood on west side of lake 8 miles south of Tahoe City, good medium sized resort with good skiing and greagt view, also wind protected if windy. Squaw is a must for you, food sucks skiing is great. Alpine Meadows great skiing intermed and expert, lots of groomers for wife and plenty of advanced and expert skiing also, food sucks at lodge. Food ok at little restauant at the bottom of Yellow Chair. Northstar great groomed area with lousy food in lodge, good food at top of mt. restaurant but a little priced but hey youre on vacation. General Ski info North Shore: Avoid Squaw and Alpine on Weekends, Avoid Northstar on Fri or Sat can really get crowded. Windy Day avoid Squaw it can really howl, Northstar good in wind. Smaller areas to hit on weekends or whatever. Homewood for lack of lift lines, Diamond Peak if you get powder because on a weekday you can get to it before all the hotshots and ski patrol and good in the tree stashed. Diamond peak has good food and best view. Sugar Bowl on Donner pass on way back to Sac. really good resort,. great snow all types of skiing and a good breakfast and lunch at Judah Lodge. Best breakfast in Truckee is at the Squeeze Inn on Main St., great omlettes. If I were to rate things:

Best Skiing: Squaw, Kirkwood, Alpine, Sugar Bowl, Heavenly
Best Experie3nce/Intermediate etc.: Northstar, Sierra at Tahoe
Get Away from Weekend Crowds: Homewood, Diamond Peak

I hope this helps a little, if you have any special quesions etc. send me a personal message and I will answer. Have a great ski trip. Pete
post #14 of 14
Originally Posted by TruckeeLocal
Don't even think about taking old-40 down to Truckee if there's snow unless you know what you're doing.

TruckeeLocal, can you kindly explain why?

I was there the Sunday before MLK and Sugarbowl was sold out by 10am. The old 40 was very slippery with light snow on top. I was tempting to take that all the way to Truckee and come out but decided to go back to I-80 and headed to Reno instead. Now I'm glad that I didn't take that route as I've never been on it from Sugarbowl to Truckee before.

What kind of precaution should I take if I were to take this road while it's snowing?

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