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Dashing Through the Snow: Your Guide to Getting Around North Lake Tahoe this Winter

North Lake Tahoe’s 12 alpine communities are poppin’ this winter, and now it’s even easier to navigate the lake. With the roll-out of new transportation initiatives, visitors and locals can get around the area safely and easily. Read on for how you can spend less time on the road and more time having fun!

Winter Driving Tips

Preparation is key to staying safe on the road this winter, so before you leave, make sure that you are prepared for any occasion. 

Before you hit the road to North Lake Tahoe:

  • Make sure your brakes, windshield wipers and fluid, defroster, heater and exhaust system are in top shape.
  • Check your antifreeze and be ready for colder temperatures.
  • Check that your tires are properly inflated and the tread is in good condition. Always carry chains, even if you don’t think that you’ll need them. Chains must be installed on the drive wheels, so make sure you know if your vehicle is front or rear wheel drive.
  • Create a checklist of items you might need, including an ice scraper, a broom for brushing snow off of your car, and a shovel to free your car if it is snowed in. Water, food, warm blankets and extra clothing are a good idea in the case of lengthy delays.

Road conditions can be unpredictable, so when traveling, CalTrans and the CalTrans QuickMap App can be valuable resources for staying up to date on road conditions. 

Ride the TART for FREE!

Starting in December , Tahoe Truckee Area Regional Transit (TART) will offer a new Free Ride Program, which will allow locals and visitors to navigate the lake on the California side for free!inter services are available now, including daily routes throughout Truckee and North Lake Tahoe, with extended night service hours and 30 minute services between Incline Village, Kings Beach, Tahoe Vista, Carnelian Bay, and Tahoe City. Weekend park and ride services to local ski resorts from Truckee are also new, with increased bus service from Tahoe City and Crystal Bay to encourage visitors and locals to leave the car at home to reduce congestion. Transit schedules and additional information can be found on TART’s website.

Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows

Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows has implemented several initiatives in order to make navigating the resort as simple as possible. Most notable is the Squaw Alpine Transit Company’s Mountaineer Shuttle Service — simply download the app for Apple or Google Play, set your pickup location in Squaw Valley or Alpine Meadows, and get dropped off at your desired location! Mountaineer Shuttle services will run at Squaw Valley from 7am to 9pm, 7 days a week, and at Alpine Meadows from 7am to 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Also new is the Protect Our Winters “POW” Carpool Parking program. Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows has partnered with POW to offer free premium parking to guests who carpool to the resort with three or more passengers per vehicle. Through this initiative, Squaw | Alpine strives to reduce its carbon footprint and promote carpooling as an effective and environmentally friendly transportation method for visitors this season.

Lastly, Truckee North Tahoe Transportation Management Association has collaborated with Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows and Placer County to adopt the Truckee Park & Ride Program. Truckee Park & Ride is a pilot program for park and ride services during the winter season, holidays and weekends from December through March. Time schedules and routes can be found at TahoeTruckeeTransit.com.

Northstar California

Northstar California will provide guests with parking and transportation services all winter long to ensure that visitors can make their way to the slopes in as little time as possible! Arrive early and park in one of their conveniently located parking lots with complimentary shuttle services daily from 7:30am to 10pm. Northstar California will also provide guests with electrical vehicles with complimentary Universal and Tesla charging stations in their preferred parking lot, on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Northstar offers several different parking options depending on guests needs and preferences. Free parking will be available every day in the Castle Peak Lot, with continuous free shuttle bus service running between the Castle Peak Lot and The Village at Northstar. Guest seeking premium parking options and closer proximity to the Village can park at the Paid Parking ($10 Mon – Fri, $20 on weekends and peak/holiday times), Premium Paid Parking ($20 Mon – Fri, $40 on weekends and peak/holiday times), and Valet Parking ($60, cash or credit).

While free on-site parking is available, spaces are limited, and guests are encourage to ride share or shuttle whenever possible. The Northstar Truckee Shuttle Route makes numerous daily stops around the area to get you safely to the resort.

Incline Village and Diamond Peak

Diamond Peak’s Ski Shuttle offers complimentary rides from the resort to various lodges in Incline Village, as well as the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe, which offers shuttle service throughout Incline for hotel guests. Morning pickups are available around Incline Village, plus midday pickups on weekends and during peak periods. The Hyatt Regency shuttle runs every half hour from the Hyatt to Diamond Peak from 8:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., stopping across from Sierra Nevada College, Tomahawk/Mt. Shadows, and Burgundy Hill/Lower Tyrolia.

For Out of Town Travelers

For winter travelers heading to North Lake Tahoe from the Bay Area, forgo risky mountain roads and instead opt to travel by air! Direct flights to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport are currently available from San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland. Surf Air is also offering direct flights to the Truckee Tahoe Airport on a custom-designed executive aircraft. Additionally, Mountain Lion, a private charter service, will also offer direct flights to the Truckee Tahoe Airport.

For folks coming to North Lake Tahoe from other parts of the country, check out Reno-Tahoe International Airport’s list of non-stop flights to Reno to see if your can hop aboard a one-way flight to Lake Tahoe.

Once your flight arrives at Reno-Tahoe International Airport, there are many ways to get safely from Reno to Lake Tahoe. The North Lake Tahoe Express operates daily 6 a.m. – 11:45 p.m. between the Reno-Tahoe Airport, North Lake Tahoe and Truckee. Locations served by the shuttle include Squaw Valley, Tahoe City, West Shore, Truckee, Northstar California, Carnelian Bay, Tahoe Vista, Kings Beach, Crystal Bay, and Incline Village. You can find all routes, schedules, and fares here. Trips usually last about an hour to an hour and a half and reservations are required 24 hours in advance, so plan accordingly.

If flying is out of the question, travel by bus instead! The Tahoe Convoy travels eastbound from the Bay Area every Friday night and returns westbound every Sunday night. Additionally, Greyhound offers routes from San Francisco to Truckee and back. For travel from Sacramento to North Lake Tahoe, the AMTRAK California Zephyr runs daily between Reno, Sacramento and Emeryville/San Francisco. For the full train schedule, click here to map out your travel time accordingly. Busses are also available to each train station via Thruway Bus Service.

And for a totally unique traveling experience from the Bay Area, Fly Blackbird is a seaplane air service offering commuter flights from Sausalito to the surface of Lake Tahoe, near Tahoe City.

In the event that you need to stay an extra night in North Lake Tahoe due to unforeseen road and weather conditions, check out our lodging page on where to stay.

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