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Night driving to Reno - Advisable?

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Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
2 posts
4 reviews
Night driving to Reno - Advisable?


I'm arriving in SFO at about 8pm on 1st March. I'm planning to visit Reno, Lake Tahoe, Bay Area and San Francisco itself Golden Gate etc..

My questions;

- Would it be advisable to drive straight to Reno once I touch down?

- What kind of vehicle should we get as we plan to visit Lake Tahoe from Reno? 4 wheel drive, chains etc..

- Besides all the places mentioned as above, is there any other place which is worth visiting? We don't mind if it's out of San Francisco.

- Lastly, what's the weather like for all the places mention and what kind of clothing is recommended especially visiting to Lake Tahoe?

Thank you in advance for your time reading this and those replying.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Borrego Springs, San Francisco, Solana Beach
Level Contributor
36,632 posts
27 reviews
1. Re: Night driving to Reno - Advisable?

If you are arriving off an international flight I would not recommend immediately driving to Reno. However, the road is good and driving it at night (albeit not in a sleep deprived state) would not be an issue.

As far as what type of vehicle for driving around Tahoe -- and its weather -- I recommend asking that question on the Tahoe forum. It'll be cold however. Have you ever driven in snow?

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
40,712 posts
150 reviews
2. Re: Night driving to Reno - Advisable?

Are you sure you are ready to drive on roads where there may be snow ? Are you going to Tahoe to Ski ? You will need an All Wheel drive or you will have to carry chains but most rentals do not allow chains.

I would read the Top Questions and Itineraries on the right side of the page. Plenty of info there on what to do and see in SF and for day trips

Agree with Sal -- stay in SF, finish SF, get over jet lag and then rent the AWD if you want to drive to Tahoe. One does not know what the road conditions will be this far in advance

Oakland, California
Level Contributor
723 posts
72 reviews
3. Re: Night driving to Reno - Advisable?

I would definitely NOT recommend driving straight to Tahoe on a Friday night during ski season. Reno is normally a 4 hour drive; but with Friday night traffic (begins about 3 p.m.), it can easily double (or even triple if there are chain requirements over Donner Pass).

Road conditions are another issue. Early March can be very snowy. I would definitely want an all-wheel drive vehicle just in case.

You can also fly to Reno.

Napa, CA
Destination Expert
for Napa
Level Contributor
6,590 posts
22 reviews
4. Re: Night driving to Reno - Advisable?

You don't need to drive to Reno to get to Lake Tahoe. Is there a reason you need to go to Reno?

California has many coastal towns that you could visit where the weather will be warmer and the road conditions probably a lot nicer.

Level Contributor
10,862 posts
11 reviews
5. Re: Night driving to Reno - Advisable?

January & February have been pretty darn dry so a drive to Reno so far this year would have been a piece of cake. Expected to have chain controls sometime today, though, but who knows what the weather will be by the end of the month. If the weather is expected to be how March is customarily described "In like a lion, out like a lamb", then I would think about getting a car that could handle some adverse weather. If no snow is predicted during your visit a regular car will be fine.

As to driving after a long flight from Singapore, that just seems a bit risky.

Level Contributor
10,862 posts
11 reviews
6. Re: Night driving to Reno - Advisable?

If the OP's flight gets in at 8 PM and then picks up luggage & rental car, believe me the traffic going east from the bay area to Tahoe is long disappated on a Friday night during ski season. A departure after 9 PM from San Francisco would put the OP in Tahoe around 1 AM. There won't be any traffic.

Level Contributor
2,969 posts
7. Re: Night driving to Reno - Advisable?

Agree that night driving aftera long flight is a bad option, add that you could be facing bad weather further adds to a NO. A 4wd/AWD is recommended for driving a this time of year especially if you are unfamiliar with Winter driving. Our Winter weather is unpredictable, so a prediction for 3 weeks out is very hard, but it will probably be cold and wet, and in the Mountains that can mean icy/snowy conditions- if driving take the slow approach.

If you can, take a 1hr flight to Reno and rent a AWD there, to go to Tahoe..

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
1,927 posts
9 reviews
8. Re: Night driving to Reno - Advisable?

Do NOT drive to Reno directly after landing at SFO. The highway is good but fast, and full of 18-wheel lorries careering along at 70 miles per hour through rather sharp turns for that speed. Well, actually, going uphill they will not be going so fast, but you will still be passing large behemoths and being tailgated by other vehicles as you attempt to do so.

Level Contributor
10,862 posts
11 reviews
9. Re: Night driving to Reno - Advisable?

Not at that time of night. The road will be far less occupied by the time they start climbing 80 past Auburn - it will be nearing midnight.

San Francisco Bay
Level Contributor
3,054 posts
13 reviews
10. Re: Night driving to Reno - Advisable?

I wouldn't even consider driving anywhere after a flight from Singapore. It would be unsafe both for you and for the other vehicles on the long 4 hour drive at night.

I also would consider flying to Reno, renting an All Wheel Drive SUV, if you are serious about being there during the winter snowy season.