Interstate 5 and Highway 99 travel north–south along the western side of the Sierra Nevada. U.S. 395 follows a roughly parallel route on the eastern side.
From San Francisco: Head east on Interstate 80 to 580 to 205E to connect with Interstate 5 and Highway 99. To best reach the eastern side, take Interstate 80 to U.S. 395, then head south.
From Los Angeles: Head north on Interstate 5, continuing north on the interstate (or Highway 99) for the western side and exiting north onto Highway 14 and later onto U.S. 395.
lGas stations are few and far between in the Sierra, so fill your tank when you can. Between October and May heavy snow may cover mountain roads. Always check road conditions before driving. Carry tire chains, and know how to install them. On Interstate 80 and U.S. 50 chain installers assist travelers (for $35), but elsewhere you're on your own.
Caltrans Current Highway Conditions. 800/427–7623; www.dot.ca.gov.