How To Get To Tahoe Without A Car

Since we focus so much on renting camping gear & renting snow clothes so you don't have to buy it for infrequent use, we thought, why not extend that to cars? Our 'without a car' series of protips is designed to help you get outside without having to drive. While driving can be super convenient, we know it can also be difficult & stressful (traffic in the Bay Area is terrible, few people own a car, no one wants to drive at the end of a long day under the hot sun, and in the winter, you have to deal with chains & highway patrol). Let someone else take care of the logistics, while you just enjoy! Taking transit can be especially fun with a crew of people to hang out with or play games. Or, of course, just take a nap!

First, there are 2 types of options

  1. Public charter buses. These comfy buses take you straight to the resort
  2. Regular public transit. The good 'ol fashioned way, by bus or train

We’ll cover both in this protip. Though honestly, if you're goal is to ski, we recommend the public charter bus option since it drops you off at the resort with no other stops. Please note, the public charter bus section is current for the 2017/18 winter ski season; always plan your trip in advance.

Comparison of different ways to get to Lake Tahoe by transit
TL;DR Comparison table, click to see full size

Public Charter Bus Companies

  • Allows you to make new skier friends
  • Provides a much faster/ convenient service direct to the resort, making one-day trips easy
  • May allow you to book add-ons like lift tickets, rentals, classes, or even lodging at discounted rates
  • Includes goodies like snacks on board and movies

Tahoe Ski Trips: Practically a tour operator in the diversity of social trips offered (e.g., trips for singles, teens, or families, weekend trips, and even weeklong trips or out-of-state/-country and summer trips). Key bonuses: trips are offered nearly everyday, trips end with après-ski BBQ, and you can book private charters & custom trips. Check out the website here; or call them at 925-680-4386. Disclaimer: Last Minute Gear is a partner of Tahoe Ski Trips, we provide them with deals on rental snow clothes!

Santa Rosa Ski & Sports: Less diversity in offerings, e.g., their trips are 2 weeks apart (which is why one-way isn’t really possible, unless you want to get yourself home). But major key bonus: none of the other options serve the North Bay at all, so if you live near Sonoma, this is your best option. Call them at 707-578-4754

North American Charter (NAC) Ski: A larger selection of add-ons (e.g., tubing, gondola rides, food vouchers) that are as easy as ordering from a menu. Key bonuses: easy one-way pricing, generally cheaper rates, operates in other parts of the US. Call them at 925-230-2086

Regular Public Transit Routes

  • Won’t get cancelled if there’s not enough people
  • Takes you to non-resort destinations
  • By definition, always has an easy one-way option, and more flexible times in general
  • May be cheaper

Aside from Megabus which has limited stations, Amtrak and Greyhound offer a large diversity of pick up and drop off points both in the Bay Area and the Lake Tahoe Area. The key to keep in mind is, what is your destination, and how will you get from there to the ski resort?

Many ski resorts in Lake Tahoe have their own paid shuttle bus service (check the resort website for details) that ferries people between the resort, and various hotels and stations in both North and South Lake Tahoe and Reno. As well, if you arrive in Truckee, you can take the Tahoe Area Regional Transit (TART) bus system to Squaw, NorthStar, Diamond Peak, and Homewood (the latter 2 require you to make an additional transfer). A one-way ticket on the TART is $1.75. If you end up in South Lake Tahoe, there is not a public bus service, but Heavenly is around 2 miles away, so if you want, you can certainly walk it.

Book online at the websites below, and remember that using either Amtrak or Greyhound, you may need to transfer in between (e.g., with Amtrak, you’ll go from Emeryville to Sacramento, and from Sacramento to your final Tahoe area destination).

For more information on TART fares, schedules and more, click here