Lake Tahoe To Los Angeles

Oct 8th, 2019, 07:39 PM
  #1  
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Lake Tahoe To Los Angeles

Lake Tahoe To Los AngelesI will be in South Lake Tahoe from 12 to 14 Dec. From South Lake Tahoe, we are driving to Los Angeles.
As it is a long drive, any suggested scenic place for us to stop for 1 night along the way?
Alternatively, If we drive from Lake Tahoe to Monterey , stay 1 night then drive to Los Angeles. Is that a long detour?
I am from Singapore and is not familiar with California. Thank You.
irenepua is offline  
Oct 8th, 2019, 08:06 PM
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Welcome to Fodors. Your big problem is weather. If there is a snow storm you may not be able to drive from Tahoe to LA -- at least not exactly on the day(s) you want. If chains are required or the highways are closed due to snow you'll be stuck at Tahoe til the roads are clear. You will not know the snow/road conditions until just before you arrive in California.

What is the rest of your itinerary like? If possible consider flying from Reno to LA.

Tahoe to Monterey to LA (even assuming there is no snow in the Sierra), is too far to drive in 2 days/1 night if there is a winter rain storm on the coast
janisj is online now  
Oct 8th, 2019, 08:09 PM
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Tahoe to Monterey is 5-6 hours in perfect weather. In winter, it could take much more.

I would do as Janis suggested and look into flying from Reno to LA.
MichelleY is online now  
Oct 8th, 2019, 08:40 PM
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Can you substitute San Francisco for LA??? If so - that would make your plans easier!!

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Oct 8th, 2019, 08:50 PM
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Where will you be renting your car to go to South Lake Tahoe? Are you leaving South Lake Tahoe on Saturday or early Sunday morning? It is possible to drive south in Nevada from Tahoe through Tonopah to Las Vegas in a day and then drive from Las Vegas to Los Angeles the next day without too much worry of seeing snow on the roads.
If you want to return your car in Reno, you could take the train (California Zephyr) from RNO to Sacramento or Davis and then take the Coast Starlight the next day south to Santa Barbara or Los Angeles.
tomfuller is offline  
Oct 8th, 2019, 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by StuDudley View Post
Can you substitute San Francisco for LA??? If so - that would make your plans easier!!

Stu Dudley

Maybe we should wait for irenepua to return and clear things up a bit re their itinerary . . . It is very likely they are traveling from San Francisco to Tahoe in the first place.
janisj is online now  
Oct 9th, 2019, 06:29 AM
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The train sounds sort of fun, but I suspect would be pretty expensive compared to a car rental.

I used to live in LA and drove to/from Lake Tahoe about once per winter to go skiing. It's not that long a drive, I'd just do it in one day myself (which I did). It's about 8 hrs, I just drove I5 to Sacramento and then 50 across, that's the easiest. No, there's not scenic place along that route in my opinion, it's central valley. You can look at a map and see that Monterey, etc is way out of the way, although you can do it, sure. But once you start going over to the coast, you are just extending your drive time a lot, you're adding at least 3 hours to the drive, but maybe that's worth it to you.It's your vacation, just decide what you want to do. It will be about 5 hrs to Monterey, and then at least another 5 hrs from Monterey to LA, even if you go 101 then 5. If you do that, you still have the Grapevine to possibly deal with, and if you go 101 the whole way, that's another 6 hr drive right there.

But if you have the time and want to see Monterey, yes, it would be shorter drives each day.

But no one can predict the weather, it can get bad in the Grapevine pass north of LA (snow, ice, fog, wind) for driving. I don't think that happens so much in early December, though, but it can. It did happen early December last year. Don't take this drive too casually as to what could happen weatherwise. If you really have no reason to take that drive, I agree, just fly from RNO to LA. On the other hand, weather could be no problem in early December.
Christina is offline  
Oct 9th, 2019, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Maybe we should wait for irenepua to return and clear things up a bit re their itinerary . . . It is very likely they are traveling from San Francisco to Tahoe in the first place.
Not knowing the itenerary and details of where the car rental starts, we cannot predict whether The train option makes sense. Two coach seats on the California Zephyr from Reno to Sacramento are less than $100.
The train leaves Reno about 8:20AM and gets to Sacramento about 2:20PM. I prefer renting a car in Sacramento to renting at any airport in California.
Whether you drive from Sacramento south on I-5 to LA or take the long route through Monterey is up to you.
tomfuller is offline  
Oct 9th, 2019, 12:48 PM
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I agree with flying, we were in S Lake Tahoe one year in November and they were already skiing at Heavenly. We were scheduled to fly back out of the small airport in Lake Tahoe but they were getting snow flurries so the airline bused us over to the Reno airport instead.
jamie99 is offline  
Oct 9th, 2019, 08:15 PM
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Hi all, I will be will renting a car from San Francisco.

Do give me your opinion on this trip itinerary :

10 Dec to 12 Dec : SFO
12 Dec to 14 Dec : Rent car from SFO & drive to South Lake Tahoe
14 to 15 Dec : Suppose to go Yosemite, cancel as I think we cannot handle the road conditions.
Thinking to go Monterery?? stay 1 night??
15 Dec : Drive to LA
15 to 17 Dec : LA

Should I just stay at SFO and not go South Lake Tahoe? Any suggested place to go?
I am scared to be stuck in snow storm and disrupt my travel plans.

Thanks everyone for your sharing.
irenepua is offline  
Oct 9th, 2019, 10:24 PM
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>>12 Dec to 14 Dec : Rent car from SFO & drive to South Lake Tahoe
14 to 15 Dec : Suppose to go Yosemite, cancel as I think we cannot handle the road conditions. <<

Actually the road conditions could be MUCH better traveling to Yosemite than to Lake Tahoe. There is one lower elevation highway in to Yosemite, there is no low elevation road to Tahoe.

And you are not accounting for your time accurately since you have no travel times.

What you'd actually have is:

10 Dec to 11 Dec : San Francisco
12 Dec drive to Lake Tahoe (IF the weather cooperates. if chains are required you wouldn't be able to take a rental car, and even if you COULD put chains on your car, in chain conditions it can take 8 or more hours to drive to Tahoe from SF)
13 Dec South Lake Tahoe
14 Dec Drive to Yosemite or to Monterey
15 Dec : Drive to LA
16 to 17 Dec : LA

So you can see you don't have nearly as much time as you think.

What would be doable? One option that would work is San Francisco, Yosemite (but you'd want to add an second night to Yosemite), and then drive to LA or drop the car in Fresno and fly to LA . . . OR . . . SF, Monterey/Carmel, and LA . . . OR . . . San Francisco without a car and fly to LA and just do the two cities.

But Tahoe just doesn't fit in.
janisj is online now  
Oct 10th, 2019, 06:20 AM
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You do not have to go back out to the SFO airport to rent your car. Rent in downtown San Francisco (cheaper, easier) or take the train from Emeryville to Reno and rent there to go to South Lake Tahoe.
Good luck on getting into or over the Sierras without encountering too much snow. If you decide to drop Tahoe due to weather, you can also take the Amtrak Coast Starlight south to Santa Barbara (6PM) or Los Angeles (about 9PM). There are several trains per day from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles that travel before the Coast Starlight arrives.
tomfuller is offline  
Oct 10th, 2019, 10:54 AM
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>>You do not have to go back out to the SFO airport to rent your car.<<

I don't think the OP meant specifically getting the car at SFO. She consistently used 'SFO' when talking about San Francisco (a common mistake by visitors)

irenepua: 'SFO' is the airport, whereas the city is San Francisco - or simply 'SF'
janisj is online now  
Oct 12th, 2019, 04:45 AM
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Tahoe is about 2000 ft higher in elevation than Yosemite Valley so if there's a storm, there will likely be more snow. 140 is the lower elevation route into Yosemite Valley. There's also a year round YARTS bus on this route that you could use if necessary https://yarts.com/routes-and-schedules/merced-hwy-140/
Patty is offline  
Oct 12th, 2019, 06:57 AM
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Thanks everyone for the advise.

From 12 to 14 Dec, we will stay 2 nights in Grand Residences by Marriott, Lake Tahoe. Assuming weather permits I will drive.
Can I take I5 highway from South Lake Tahoe to LA? Stop 1 night at Sacramento before going to LA.
Which is better highway to drive for this journey?
irenepua is offline  
Oct 12th, 2019, 08:35 AM
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A couple of thoughts...

I am scared to be stuck in snow storm and disrupt my travel plans.
Frankly, at that time of year, anywhere in the Sierras runs the risk of not just snow, but - far more dangerous - icy conditions including "black ice," invisible as its name suggests. Part of the issue is also short daylight hours, thus even if daytime temperatures are above freezing, it can take some time for the ice to melt off. Now I wouldn't worry overmuch about this, but there ARE a couple of alternatives.

First, why Tahoe? It's a long and somewhat arduous drive from San Francisco, particularly in winter, and early December MIGHT be too early for skiing, if that's a reason for your visit. If it's gambling, well, South Lake Tahoe is no Vegas.

If you didn't go to Tahoe (or to the mountains including Yosemite) you could reallocate those days to the Monterey Bay area, which, by comparison, offers a huge range of things to see and do, including the terrific aquarium in Monterey, the old Spanish mission and twee shops in Carmel, the migrating monarch butterflies in Pacific Grove (pretty amazing.) You could visit the Henry Cowell redwoods on the way from SF, then when leaving the Monterey Bay area (or while you're there) visit stunning Point Lobos State Nature Reserve - not just drop-dead gorgeous but full of wildlife. You could then take Highway 1 south through the Big Sur coast, stop to see the elephant seal rookery near the Hearst Castle, then stop in gorgeous Santa Barbara en route to Los Angeles. Google the places on this map - https://goo.gl/maps/opa4ErAcHQZzV9zP9

Or if Tahoe is a must, then I'd probably look at taking US 395 south from Tahoe to the LA area rather than backtracking to I-5. It follows the east slope of the Sierras, mainly through high desert, and while it won't be warm, the odds of any snow or ice on the road is low. Time-wise, it's also probably faster than I-5, and certainly more scenic. You'll need to be careful as you leave the Tahoe area, however. Map - https://goo.gl/maps/HaagzrMhuvDng7Yb8
Gardyloo is offline  
Oct 12th, 2019, 09:25 AM
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Gardyloo has some good advice/suggestions. Maybe tell us why Tahoe specifically? That seems to be the only constant in your plans and me personally -- I would not pre-plan a trip to Lake Tahoe in early December (and to give you some context -- I live 100 miles from tahoe and have part ownership of a condo on teh North Shore)

Early December could be nice or could be dreadful weather wise, Thanksgiving (end of November) is sort of the traditional beginning of ski season but many years there is only man made snow while other years they've been skiing for weeks by then. But as Gardyloo says, snow or no snow there will likely be ice on the roads and being from Singapore you may not have experience driving in icy conditions. Living here I can plan a trip up into the mountains at the last minute depending on the weather -- you can't do that.

So . . . how important to you is is Lake Tahoe???? Why are you going there specifically?
janisj is online now  
Oct 12th, 2019, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
. . . if Tahoe is a must, then I'd probably look at taking US 395 south from Tahoe to the LA area rather than backtracking to I-5. It follows the east slope of the Sierras, mainly through high desert, and while it won't be warm, the odds of any snow or ice on the road is low. Time-wise, it's also probably faster than I-5, and certainly more scenic.
While Gardyloo's advice is the gold standard, I'm going to have to disagree somewhat with this assessment. Hwy 395 is one of my very favorite drives in the world and I've done it in all seasons, the last times between my homes in Arizona & N. California. The very last time was in late December and when there's a storm the higher parts of 395 are treacherous and no safer than the mountain roads. For instance, the town of Lee Vining is at 6800' elevation and that last drive I had to wait a day at friends' in Bishop (4000') before I could safely continue. So make no assumptions that 395 will be better and watch the forecasts closely if you decide to go that way. Weather permitting it is a beautiful drive, much much better than I-5.

MmePerdu is online now  
Oct 12th, 2019, 12:23 PM
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Very true. If the weather is bad at Tahoe it will likely be bad in several stretches of 395.

And if there isn't snow at Tahoe and on 395, there could be awful tule fog most of the length of I-5 so dangerous in a different way
janisj is online now  
Oct 12th, 2019, 05:13 PM
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My family been to SF, Monterey and the Big Sur area.
For this trip, we want to go to somewhere we have never been before. That is why we wanted to go South Lake Tahoe & Yosemite.
My friends who have been there told us the area is really beautiful and is a must to visit.

Now we will have to think of a plan B for the 3 to 4 days before heading to LA to meet friends.
irenepua is offline  

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