Lake Tahoe Travel Guide

USA  #4 in Best California Vacations

Getting Around Lake Tahoe

The best way to get around Lake Tahoe is by car. Because there are more than 70 miles of shoreline at just the lake alone, you'll find that having your own set of wheels will be most convenient. You can rent a car at the Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO) about 50 miles northeast of Tahoe City. To get from the airport to your accommodations in Tahoe, you can rent a car, take a cab (ride-hailing services, Uber and Lyft, also operate in the area) or hop on a shuttle. The South Tahoe Airporter offers frequent trips between the Reno airport and six resorts in South Lake Tahoe for less than $30 per person one way. Meanwhile, the North Lake Tahoe Express offers service between the Reno airport and the North Lake Tahoe-Truckee region for less than $50 per person one way. There is a city bus that connects the airport to downtown Reno, but it only operates Monday through Friday.

The Tahoe Truckee Area Regional Transit (TART) provides public bus services, but only around the north shore. In South Lake Tahoe there are free shuttles between the casinos and ski resorts.

Car

Because of Lake Tahoe's size and somewhat limited public transportation, you'll find that having a car will allow for better exploration. To get a real feel for the region, take a ride along Highway 89 (also marked Highway 50 and Highway 28 in some sections). This 72-mile-long road runs all the way around the lake. Sure, you'll spend a little extra on gas, but the views will be well worth it. If you're visiting in winter, note that some sections of Highway 89 might be closed due to snow. Keep an eye on the weather report before heading out. The California Department of Transportation offers an up-to-date report on road conditions.

Public Transportation

Tahoe Truckee Area Regional Transit (TART) operates frequent bus routes on Lake Tahoe's northern and western shores between Tahoma and Incline Village as well as five daily shuttles to Truckee from Tahoe City. Buses run every 30 minutes to an hour from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily, depending on the route. One-way fares cost $1.75. If you're planning to rely on public transit throughout your trip, you can save money by purchasing a 24-hour pass ($3.50), a 10-ride pass ($14) or a 14-day pass ($30). There is also a free night bus that stops at TART stops between the Squaw Valley Clock Tower and Crystal Bay between 7 p.m. and 2 a.m.

The Tahoe Transportation District offers service on the south shore, including Heavenly Village. In the winter, TTD also operates ski shuttles. Come summertime, TTD offers trolley service to Emerald Bay and bus service from Incline Village to Sand Harbor. Fares vary based on the route, but generally cost between $2 and $4 for a one-way ride.

Shuttle

Many of the casinos, motels and ski areas in South Lake Tahoe are connected by a few tour shuttles operated by companies, such as Discover Lake Tahoe (fares depend on the company and the destination). However, there is a more cost-effective way to travel: Three of the ski areas (the Heavenly Ski Resort, the Kirkwood Mountain Resort and the Sierra-at-Tahoe) also run free shuttles between the slopes and hotels in South Lake Tahoe.

Boat

The seasonal South Shore Water Taxi operates a regular route between the Lakeside Marina and the Camp Richardson Resort (making a stop at the Timber Cove Marina along the way). Round-trip tickets cost $25 for adults; round-trip fare for kids costs $15.

On Foot or By Bike

Many of the towns that dot Lake Tahoe's shores are easy to explore on foot or by bike. The surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains are also chock-full of hiking trails. Make sure to pack comfortable shoes (and snow boots!). Check out Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition's interactive map for more information on Lake Tahoe's walking and biking trails.

 

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