Winter Driving in South Lake Tahoe
Driving in Snow in Lake Tahoe
It was a dark and snowy night. The high school parking lot was deserted except for a 1976 Ford Granada turning doughnut after doughnut to Pearl Jam’s Ten. It was the first real snow of the season, and as a new driver, Mom and Dad wanted me to learn how to recover if I lost control on an icy road. It was scary at first, but I’ve been grateful ever since that I eventually got the hang of it.
Winter driving is like most of the stuff we do – with practice, patience, and common sense, you can do it! Here are a few things you can do to get up to your favorite mountain safely:
- Check road conditions before you leave home.
- Drive slowly, and avoid sudden actions like braking, acceleration, or turns.
- Give plenty of following distance.
- Be mindful of other drivers on the road – especially at intersections.
- Carry chains – and know which tires they go on. And how to put them on.
- Remember, a “4 wheel drive” vehicle does not have “4 wheel stop.”
- More winter driving tips from Caltrans
- Weathering the storm brochure PDF
The advantage in a mountain town is that we know how to clear snow from the roads. While a few inches can immobilize a coastal community, here at Lake Tahoe, we bring out the heavy equipment. Snow removal vehicles work around the clock to keep the roads clear and safe for travel. Keep in mind, the main roads will be cleared first, then the secondary roads and neighborhoods.
For the latest road conditions:
- Caltrans has current California road conditions online or at 1-800-427-ROAD (7623) or 916-445-7623.
- For road conditions in Nevada contact the Nevada Department of Transportation at 877-687-6237.
- Travelers can also get up-to-the-minute road information on their smartphones.
For the most up-to-date information on snowfall, mountain base depths and road conditions in South Lake Tahoe, check area ski resort websites and cams or call snow phones:
- Heavenly Web Cams – 775-586-7000
- Sierra-at-Tahoe Web Cams – 530-659-7475
- Kirkwood Web Cams – 209-258-3000
- Heavenly Village Web Cams
And, if despite your best efforts, you do find yourself in a slide, let off your brakes. Your ABS could lock up your wheels. Turn your wheels in the direction that the rear of your car is sliding. Remember to breathe.
Be safe, and have fun this winter!