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San Fransisco to South Lake Tahoe drive

Old Apr 10th, 2005, 05:10 PM
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San Fransisco to South Lake Tahoe drive

Driving San Fransisco to South Lake Tahoe on Saturday 23rd April, leaving SFO across the Bay Bridge at approx 4:00pm. Intention is to then next day drive to Carson City and head down into Death Valley to Las Vaegas. Which route is best (ie: scenic) yet not the longest drive. 4 hour drive is reasonable so we don't arrive when too dark. Should we take Oakland , Vallejo, Sacramento, Placerville, Camino through Pollock Pines route? Is it open? Snow not a problem?
Or is there a better route? Thanks
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Old Apr 11th, 2005, 07:58 AM
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The way to get from SF to South Lake Tahoe is to take 80 east toward Sacramento. When you get to Sac you will stay to the left when 80 turns to 50. This will take you right to South Lake Tahoe. Right now it is open. It's been a snowy year but that route, as well as 80, only close when there is a substantial snow storm. It's not like the other passes where they close for the season. Generally road closures for 80 and 50 are measured in hours rather than days or months.

From South Lake Tahoe to Carson City you take 50 around part of the lake and then take the right at the split area and drop down to Carson City. Be advised that Carson City is north of Lake Tahoe so if your plan was to visit Carson City that's fine but if your plan is to head south after you leave South Lake Tahoe you may want to take the Kingsbury Grade to the Minden Gardnerville area. Carson City to Death Valley is more than 7.5 hours which is about 230 miles on 395 south. Beautiful drive on the eastern sierra, especially this time of year. Snowy mountains and green valley. Coming down from Mammoth Lakes to see the expanse of the Owens Valley below will be just amazing. Then you'll go on 136 for a short time and then on 190 for quite a while. You may want to break up the drive by staying in Bishop which has lots of convenient lodging right on 395 which cuts through the main street. After death valley you have about another 150 miles to Vegas.
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Old Apr 12th, 2005, 04:23 AM
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Thanks Suzie. Great info. Where are the roads difficult (steep, windy, side of cliffs) and for what stretches? What types of driving speeds can we expect. Thanks again
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Old Apr 12th, 2005, 05:28 AM
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4:00 pm on the Bay Bridge is peak traffic hour. No fun, stuck for hours in traffic. Try to get to the Bay Bridge as early as possible.

Otherwise,I'd suggest stopping for an early dinner, especially in a wonderful restaurant city like San Francisco.

The Ferry Building is close to the Bay Bridge and is a great place to grab a bite to eat.
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Old Apr 12th, 2005, 08:17 AM
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easytraveler is 4:00 on a Saturday that difficult? Maybe if there was a ball game it would be trafficy but I think bozi will be ok.

50 to south lake tahoe is freeway until Pollock Pines when you have traffic lights right on the freeway. Then there is a section that will go back to 4 lane highway. Later it will be 2 lanes but the scenery is very nice. You start to climb up to ridge where you can look out and see the lake in the distance. After you reach the top of the summit the right side will have low stone walls that guard against the drop off. Occasionally I'll get the creeps looking down so look ahead at the lake view. It's over quickly enough, so steel your self. The Kingsbury grade is quite steep but a pretty easy drive. We do it every summer and I think the road is fine. I don't get that creepy feeling coming down the grade that I get dropping into the the Tahoe basin from 50.

On the freeways you can go 65. On 80 east you will be passed like you are stanidng still when you go 65 as many people race at top speed along that corridor. I can't afford the ticket so I usually don't speed. On 50 in the 2 lane area you can expect a speed of between 50 and 55 until you reach the ridge and then you should go at a speed that makes you feel safe. Don't worry about anyone behind you as that part of the trip will end soon enough and you can resume a higher speed later. Have a great trip.
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Old Apr 12th, 2005, 03:48 PM
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Thanks so much Suzie. We are looking forward to a great trip.
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