Bay Area Residents Warned Not to Drive to Tahoe on Fridays

Don’t Drive to Tahoe on Fridays from the Bay Area

The much-needed rain in Northern California has brought white powdery snow to Lake Tahoe’s popular skiing resorts. We can expect many people, including those in the Bay Area, to hit the slopes this President’s Day weekend. However, the drive to Tahoe can take much longer than expected.

Everyone knows traffic in the Bay Area can be messy, but throw in a trip to Lake Tahoe, and it’s a complete nightmare. Travel experts said it doesn’t matter whether motorists take Interstate 80 or US Highway 50 over the Sierra Nevada, traffic delays are inevitable if traveling on a Friday, especially on a holiday weekend.

Why Friday is the Worst Day to Travel

The drive to Tahoe from the Bay Area can take over three hours without traffic. Still, the travel time can change excessively and become unpredictable on holiday weekends, making the freeways seem more like a parking lot.

Traffic on a typical Friday over the Bay Bridge from the City usually starts around noon, and congestion along Interstate 80 is evident along the drive toward Sacramento. If you’re traveling on US Highway 50 and arrive on the South Shore between 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm, be prepared to drive below speed limits when you enter the basin.

Best and Worst Time to Leave SF for Tahoe

San Francisco and Lake Tahoe are separated by about 200 miles, but the time it takes to drive this distance can vary from over three to 5.5 hours, depending on when you leave. According to Google Maps data, if you go on a Friday on a holiday weekend, the best time to avoid any traffic is just before 10 am.

The second best time to leave is at 7 pm. Regular traffic resumes around that time, which should take an average of 3.5 hours to reach your destination.

The worst time to leave for Tahoe from the Bay Area on a Friday before a holiday is at 3 pm. You can expect to go an average of ​​36 mph on the freeway, which can take about 5.5 hours to get to Tahoe.

Smart travelers often find ways to avoid the mess, like spending the night in Sacramento to break up the trip and start the drive up the mountain with a fresh mind.

Best and Worst Time to Return to the Bay Area

If you’re returning from Tahoe on Sunday, it is best to leave by 10 am. If you wait until noon to get on the road, traffic congestion near Davis can worsen, adding another hour to your trip.

If you can’t leave in the morning, it is a good idea to maximize your time in Tahoe. Enjoy the afternoon by having lunch, going shopping, taking a stroll through the town, and then making your descent down the hill at around 5:30 pm.

Travel During the Week

Waze, a navigation software company, said searches for directions from the Bay Area to South Lake Tahoe jumped to over 70 percent in January on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday compared to the weekdays.

The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority advises Bay Area residents to consider visiting during the week if they can. They recommend leaving on Thursday and returning on Monday if possible to beat the traffic.

If it is possible to leave early Monday morning, try negotiating a cheaper Sunday night hotel rate because this is often the least busy night of the week. Travel experts recommend calling your hotel accommodation and working out a deal that can fit your schedule.

Watch the YouTube video below to learn the fastest way to get to Lake Tahoe from the Bay Area.

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury attorney. If you have been seriously injured in an accident in Northern California and someone else was at fault, our legal team can help. Call our law office for free, friendly case advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.

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Photo by Aleksandr Popov on Unsplash

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