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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 offer breathtaking winter experiences each year, and since the roll-out of various transportation initiatives, getting around, parking and traveling safely has never been easier. 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:

  • Check the weather report for winter storms alerts that could delay travel or close major roads.
  • 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. 4-Wheel drive is preferred for getting around snowy roads. If your vehicle is 2-wheel drive, 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 along with the Nevada Department of Transportation can be valuable resources for staying up to date. 

Ride the TART for FREE!

Tahoe Truckee Area Regional Transit (TART) offers Free Ride Program, which allows locals and visitors to navigate the lake for free! Winter services are available now, including daily routes throughout Truckee and North Lake Tahoe, with approximately  30-minute services between Incline Village, Kings Beach, Tahoe Vista, Carnelian Bay, and Tahoe City. Visitors can also enjoy weekend park and ride services to local ski resorts from Truckee, with 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.

Please note: It’s important for us to protect our community from the spread of communicable diseases. For that reason, we ask that you adhere to all state and local safety protocols when traveling by bus. Wear masks, adhere to social distancing, and keep up-to-date on COVID-19 policies via the TART website. Please also keep in mind that, as of December 10, 2020, night services are suspended in Tahoe and Truckee.

Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows

Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows has implemented several initiatives 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 from Apple or Google Play, set your pickup location in Squaw Valley or Alpine Meadows, and get dropped off at your desired location between the two resorts! Mountaineer Shuttle services will run at Squaw Valley from 7 am to 9 pm, 7 days a week, and at Alpine Meadows from 8 am to 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Like other transit operations in the region, you are asked to review and adhere to health and safety protocols for the protection of the community and always check in advance for any COVID modifications.

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. 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.

Free parking will be available daily in the Village View and Castle Peak lots on a first-come, first-served basis. The Village View lots are located immediately adjacent to The Village at Northstar. Guests can walk to or take a quick shuttle ride to The Village. The Castle Peak lots are the first available parking option on Northstar Drive (located at the roundabout), and are used for overflow when Village View lots are full. Castle Peak is served by a continuous free shuttle bus service, which runs between the Castle Peak and The Village at Northstar. Guest seeking premium parking options and closer proximity to the Village can park at the Lower Village Lot which for $20 per day Monday – Friday (non-peak) and $40 on weekends and holidays. Payment is cashless using one of three easy methods: self-serve kiosks in the parking lots, the Park Northstar App, or through the “tap and ski” QR code on lot signs. 

While free on-site parking is available, spaces are limited, and guests are encouraged to rideshare or shuttle whenever possible. Visitors can take the TART via the 267 route to be dropped off right at The Village at Northstar. State health and safety mandates are in effect and visitors are encouraged to review the resort’s guide on what you need to know before you arrive.

Northstar also offers a free Dial-A-Ride service for guests staying within the Northstar neighborhoods.

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 visitors 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 you can hop aboard a one-way flight to Lake Tahoe. This includes the new, charter-style flights from JSX (Burbank) to RNO.

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.

In addition to the information noted above, make sure to check with all provider in advance for modifications during COVID-19. We also encourage North Lake Tahoe visitors to keep in mind that closures and other factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic may contribute to decreased availability of public gathering places—which means that you’ll need to prepare to spend a little bit more time in your car than usual. You can learn more about that and other important pre-travel information for your North Lake Tahoe visit by checking here.

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