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Which South Lake Tahoe hotels are on sale?
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los angeles
Level Contributor
1,086 posts
98 reviews

mapquest says its like 486 miles from los angeles, but also says it will take 7 hours and 20 minutes? seeing as how so much of it is the 5 fwy...can it REALLY take that long? is that last part of this drive all windy, mountains, slow, etc.?

i was thinking if you could do around 70 the whole time til the end you could def do it in under 7 hrs, not to mention if you leave at that time (read: like 5am) you can prob do 80 for the first 3-4 hours easy. I wouldn't go any faster than that, but if you do 240 miles in the first 3 hours, theres no way it will take you FOUR hours to do the other 200 miles, again unless for like 100 miles it's super slow, windy, mountain driving, etc.?

thanks for any help on this, never driven it and am trying to negotiate the drive vs just flying to reno + rental car costs, but I am finding flights LAX - RNO nonstop surprisingly expensive for such a short flight.

Thanks everyone!

Edited: 12:42 am, April 02, 2013
los angeles
Level Contributor
1,086 posts
98 reviews
1. Re: Driving...

*at the right time I meant not "at that time"

Destination Expert
for Kohala Coast, Island of Hawaii
Level Contributor
9,326 posts
1 review
2. Re: Driving...

It's at least 7 hours.

Haven't been any cheap fares on California short haul flights for a long time. Southwest no longer a cheap airline. American is another option.

Near Yosemite...
Level Contributor
3,855 posts
6 reviews
3. Re: Driving...

You better add a little time in for the delay in getting a speeding ticket on Hwy 5. I think you will need at least the 7 hours. You are most likely going to need to stop somewhere along the way for fuel, food or a comfort stop.

los angeles
Level Contributor
1,086 posts
98 reviews
4. Re: Driving...

hahaha CaSwede!!

if you stay outta the fast lane (40% of ALL speeding tickets are given to cars in the fast lane) and you're not the ONLY ONE doing 80 driving in and out of lanes, calling attention to yourself, and can at least hit the brakes once before you pass the cop, you shouldn't usually get a ticket...

however, you are right re stopping of course and thanks Pareo as well for the info...that's true....I was hoping with it being offseason-ish they might be cheaper...I can wait, certainly a lot of time, maybe there will be a fare sale.

if it was SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper I'd be open to flying to SF or Sacramento and driving from there instead of Reno but if the total fare difference is like $50 then might as well just fly in to the closest airport.

San Francisco, Ca
Level Contributor
8,961 posts
62 reviews
5. Re: Driving...

I suspect Google maps uses legal speed limits to estimate driving times....

Corona del Mar, CA
Destination Expert
for San Diego, Orange County, California
Level Contributor
41,691 posts
408 reviews
6. Re: Driving...

>>>You better add a little time in for the delay in getting a speeding ticket on Hwy 5.<<<

Freaking' A, I started doing this drive (more or less) in 1975 when I was driving from Corona del Mar to Berkeley for undergrad and then the University of Nevada (Reno) for grad school and I could get from CdM to UNR in under 8 hours, CdM to Berkeley well under 6 hours. 80mph is the standard on the 5 from once you are off the Grapevine until Stockton and then Sacramento, where you have to slow down because there is more on and off traffic so CHP is more vigilant. But if you try to drive 70 on that stretch of 5 between Buttonwillow and Stockton you get run off the road, old ladies in Buick Park Avenue's pass you.

I am not advocating breaking the law, I am just saying what the realities are on that stretch of road. If you stay with the flow of traffic and don't play freeway slalom, it is a fast drive. The one variable is CA's insatiable need for revenue.

Driving on 50 isn't as easy as driving on 80, where the CHP and NHP also leave you alone for the most part.

And newsflash, airline tickets have ZERO rationality in terms of distance. It is all based on supply and demand. If there are not many carriers on the route or the flights they have are full, it is going to be more expensive. I just looked at LAX to RNO and I can fly to Reno for $350 on United...... or to JFK for $367 on United....

Level Contributor
10,862 posts
11 reviews
7. Re: Driving...

You will be significantly slowed down between the turn off to Ice House and South Lake Tahoe where it is all 2 lane with infrequent passing lanes. Before that I'm not sure you can do 70 though. Placerville usually slows ya down too with the lights & such.

Manhattan Beach...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach
Level Contributor
16,763 posts
3 reviews
8. Re: Driving...

If you can do it from LA in 7 hours, my hats off to you. We need a gas station stop and fast food stop and it takes us longer than that from LAX area. Are you traveling with children? We found that slows you down with young ones. Since they have to be strapped in their car seats, anything like giving them bottles, changing diapers, feeding them, means pulling over at a rest stop. If they are older, add in another toilet stop.

We also stay in Incline Village so that is north LT and a bit further. Can't do the drive twice in a week on the 5 or go crazy, we go up the 395 because it's a nicer drive, then shoot home on the 5 after noon check out. Gets us into LA after all the work commute traffic.

Have fun.

Northern Cali
Level Contributor
146 posts
13 reviews
9. Re: Driving...

Save some of your time, fly in to SAC and then drive 2 hours to SLT!

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
45,730 posts
89 reviews
10. Re: Driving...

You might enjoy this time lapse video of someone driving his Porsche from L.A. to SF up I-5. He got stopped but not ticketed. youtube.com/watch?v=RZzvRlPEfbM