We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Best Way & Time ETA from San Francisco to Mammoth Lakes

san francisco,ca
Level Contributor
36 posts
Save Topic
Best Way & Time ETA from San Francisco to Mammoth Lakes

Hello,

I am planning a trip to Mammoth Lakes in late december of this year and I am trying to get the driving planned out. I need to accurately estimate the driving time required and what the best route to take at this time of the year is. Ive read that 120, 108 and 4 tend to have problems and the best bet is to take CA-50 to CA-89 and then down CA395 to Mammoth Lakes.

I am wondering if someone who has done this drive before can tell me how long this takes? Google is telling me about 10hrs of driving.

Thank you in advanced for the help!

Mentioned in this post
Mammoth Lakes
Mammoth Lakes
California
California
Level Contributor
10,862 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Best Way & Time ETA from San Francisco to Mammoth Lakes

In December many of the transSierra routes are closed for the season. Sometimes 89 could be closed but if it's not then I suggest taking that. The final descent could be tricky of it's icy though. I drove that this summer and thought I would not want to drive it in the snow even if the road is open. In winter we take 50 through south lake tahoe and over kingsbury grade to 395 and then south. Either way is fine.

If you are driving during non commute times then you would reasonably drive SF to Sacramento in 2 hours. From Sacramento to Mammoth it takes us about 4.5 to 5 hours depending on stops and weather. I'd budget about 7 hours to account for winter driving. No way would it take 10 hours unless you have to stop and wait for better weather.

Mentioned in this post
Sacramento
Sacramento
California
Santa Monica...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Mammoth Lakes
Level Contributor
30,870 posts
43 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Best Way & Time ETA from San Francisco to Mammoth Lakes

As noted above, those roads are closed from November through June, and you have to go via Sacramento. This is why most people from San Francisco go to Tahoe or Kirkwood, and not Mammoth.

Mentioned in this post
Sacramento
Sacramento
California
San Francisco
San Francisco
California
san francisco,ca
Level Contributor
36 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Best Way & Time ETA from San Francisco to Mammoth Lakes

decided to take I-80 instead of US50 just incase of weather and not being stranded in the middle of nowhere... does anyone have any further thoughts on this?

I am allocating:

SF - Sacramento = 2.25hrs

Sacramento - Reno, NV = 3.75hrs

Reno - Mammoth Lakes = 5.75hrs

Total driving time of 11.75hrs to get to Mammoth Lakes... does that seem like a safe enough estimate?

Thanks!

Mentioned in this post
Sacramento
Sacramento
California
Reno
Reno
Nevada
Mammoth Lakes
Mammoth Lakes
California
California
Level Contributor
10,862 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Best Way & Time ETA from San Francisco to Mammoth Lakes

Your times are long estimates. Will you be driving during commute hours or on a Friday?

SF to Sacto outside commute hours and not on Friday should be 2 hours with no problems.

Sacto to Reno is just a bit over 2 hours unless there are traffic issues like wrecks or snow or it's Friday.

Reno to Mammoth Lakes is about 3 hours but unlike the other places the majority of the road will be empty. There is very little traffic on 395 south of Gardnerville. Watch out for blowing snow which makes the road icy.

If you've given yourself 11 hours you should have no problem meeting that.

Mentioned in this post
Reno
Reno
Nevada
Mammoth Lakes
Mammoth Lakes
California
san francisco,ca
Level Contributor
36 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: Best Way & Time ETA from San Francisco to Mammoth Lakes

thank you suzie! good to hear that my estimates are pretty safe... i want to make sure that I end up underestimating the drive and having to find a hotel in the middle of the way last moment and throw off all my planning. I will be leaving san francisco at around 7:00am to get over the bay bridge well before commute and traffic hours and i gave myself an extra 15 minutes just incase.

then i have a stop in sacramento which would have me leaving there at about 9:45am hoping to get to reno by 1:30pm (which sounds like a safe estimate from what you said!)

i was taking into account possibilities of getting some snow and having to drive 30mph part of the way so thats why i gave myself those long estimates... keeping snow conditions in mind does it still seem like a pretty safe estimate if I were to encounter typical snow conditions?

thanks!

California
Level Contributor
10,862 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Best Way & Time ETA from San Francisco to Mammoth Lakes

If you encounter snow then your drive will slow down considerably so your high estimate will be more likely.

Driving over tthe MLK weekend this year we had nice weather going to Mammoth but we took 50 to 207 and then a shortcut to 395.. Coming back we took the same route but it was really windy on 395 from Mammoth to Bridgeport which is pretty scary. DH is a great driver but I was still terrified. The road was icy and the blowing snow made it hard to see. After that drive I decided I didn't want to do that again. Actually I wish we were traveling at a slower speed. Just call me a chicken.

I wish you a safe trip!

Mentioned in this post
Bridgeport
Bridgeport
California
7. Re: Best Way & Time ETA from San Francisco to Mammoth Lakes

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 9:15 am, August 18, 2009