Visiting Incline Village / Tahoe in Winter

It is much easier to visit Tahoe in the winter than people think. Our normal weather pattern is a storm lasting 2 days, followed by 10-12 days of sunny weather. Except for during and just after a storm, the roads are generally dry and clear. Incline Village lies in the rain shadow of the mountains and only gets half the snowfall of the surrounding areas; it also has a southern exposure so the sun hits it all day and melts the snow out quickly. During a snow storm, the roads can be crowded and slow. During storm cycles, or if planning in advance,  it can be much easier to take a plane flight to Reno and then take a 45 minute shuttle to Incline Village. The Mt. Rose Highway (Highway 431) between Reno and Incline Village is well-plowed and almost never closes due to weather (unlike Highways 50 and 80 which close several times per year). If you aren't experienced in winter driving you should take a shuttle or a taxi - it is a windy mountain road, no big deal if you are used to driving in snowy mountains but exciting stuff if you are used to living in a snow-free environment. You can also shuttle from the airport to the Hyatt and back, while using a rental car or taxi for local transportation - call the Hyatt in advance to arrange this.

During good weather, Incline Village is about a 2 hour drive from Sacramento or 4 hours from San Francisco. The normal route is to take 80 east to Truckee; then head south on Highway 267 to Kings Beach; then head around the lake to the east on Highway 28 to Incline Village. During winter storms the drive can be quite a bit longer; usually highways 50 and 80 will close due to spinouts long before they become impassable with good snow tires or chains... speaking of which, unless you have very good snow (not all season) or studded tires, chains are a must in mountain winters. Don't forget to practice putting them on at home, or just pay one of the installers the $40 to put them on for you.

If you are coming up in the winter, do bring a full tank of gas, extra warm clothes, water and snacks, just in case you get stuck in your car in a traffic jam - backups happen several times a year on Highway 80. Again, its usually not that the roads are impassable, the closures usually happen when people sneak through chain control with summer tires and then spin out.