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  1. Default South Lake Tahoe to Las Vegas, Nevada

    What is the best route out of South Lake Tahoe. Is 95 the best way back. I would like to avoid a lot of mountain driving, if possible. Do you need to go back to Reno?
    Streets and Maps has you going 395 to 6 to 95 and it looks like a shorter route, but mountainous.

    If nyone who has made this trip and can tell me the best way I would appreciate it.
    We will be driving in the middle of October if that makes a difference in weather also.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Mountain Driving can be wondrous

    I don't know the road conditions down there good enough to respond. I've only been to the Reno area twice. But so many people who post here are concerned about mountain driving so I just wanted to speak to that.

    Driving in the mountains often gives you some of the most stupendous scenic choices you will find. Most public roads over passes are well-maintained. Any kind of highway, especially if it's an interstate, going over mountain areas will be kept as safe as possible for traffic. If it's not safe for regular travel, there will usually be plenty of warnings on your local radio station and signs indicating that you might need chains to be safe. I doubt this will be much of a problem in October unless winter comes quite early this year.

    People always seem to worry about cliffs and other drop-offs. I actually find that there are few of these on mountain roads because most of them are carved through natural passes over the mountains that are lower than the surrounding area. You're actually more inclined to find that you're between two hills with steep sides going up, than on a road with steep sides going down. And, if there are any drop-offs, there are usually great guard rails just in case someone loses control for some reason and veers out of their lane.

    I'm just saying this because I don't think you should avoid a great route just because of some fears about safety that probably aren't grounded in fact. Of course, you will always want to check road conditions if winter weather has set in before starting off. But, besides that, enjoy the drive and the views, I say!

    Hope this helps alleviate some of your concerns.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default It is actually the "flattest" approach

    Quote Originally Posted by whichwanda View Post
    What is the best route out of South Lake Tahoe
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! I have driven just about every road there is between SLT and Las Vegas. Like Judy says, above, driving in the mountains is not really that dangerous a proposition -- the roads you will be on are well built and easy to drive.

    South Lake Tahoe is in the mountains and so the first thing you need to do is find a way down to the valley. The smoothest highway (from SLT) is US-50, it has a couple of wide turns and some snaky turns as you work your way to US-395 just south of Carson City. (Going to Reno is way out of your way!)

    But if you don't mind a few more twists and turns, one of my favorite approach roads is the Kingsbury Grade (NV-207) which passes the north side of the Heavenly Valley ski area and winds down the canyon before reaching the valley floor at about Gardnerville. I have driven this grade in blinding snow storms -- it really is fine.

    Now from here on south -- it is impossible to reach Las Vegas by any route without going up and around mountain ranges. Of the two primary routes, US-395 and US-95 -- US-395 is probably the most "flat" because it follows much of the valley floor just east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Looking at my map, US-95 works its way around 7 or 8 different ranges (net elevation gain is very little), but Nevada is one of the mountainous states in the union. There is almost no truly flat ground anywhere.
    Streets and Maps has you going 395 to 6 to 95 and it looks like a shorter route, but mountainous.
    What is funny about this -- is that using this route may well be the flattest part of any route you could find. US-6 is steep and winding, but it is relatively short and a direct way to pass over some of the tallest mountain ranges in Nevada.

    Personally, I think you would be better served to use US-395 to Big Pine and then CA-168 to NV-266 and then south on US-95 (but this is windy, steep road until you reach US-396). More about this road here.

    There is an alternative -- which is almost flat.... Travel west on US-50 to Sacramento and California's central valley and take I-5 or CA-99 to Bakersfield and then CA-58 to I-15 and then north to Las Vegas. There are still mountains to go around and through on this route -- but it would be all freeway driving.

    Finally, October is a great time to make this drive! Here are some mountain driving tips.

    Happy Planning!


  4. Default

    Thanks for all the advice.
    Mark, you gave a lot of great info and I will look at the map close and keep in mind what you have told me.


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