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Tahoe bound, seeking help from locals

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  • Tahoe bound, seeking help from locals

    So the Mrs. and I are headed to Tahoe for MLK Jr. weekend in January -- I was there once for a summer, way back in 1993. That's to say we'll be clueless tourons. Two days are covered with a bachelor-bachelorette ski thing at Squaw, but we have Friday to explore on our own.

    We fly to Reno on Thursday. I'm being cheap-ish and renting a Toyota Corolla type car. We'll bring chains with us in the event they become required, but if they don't fit whatever car we get, we'll try to upgrade to an SUV (and risk that none is left). Is that moronic -- should we just bite the bullet and drop another $250 and plan to use an SUV (and try to downgrade if it's not forecasted to dump)? My limited experience renting cars has been that we get upgraded automatically for free because they never have any Corolla-type cars left, but that seems unlikely for Reno/Tahoe.

    For Thurs. night, we arrive in the latter part of the evening and since we plan to head out early Fri. morning to explore (looks like there are tons of options between Truckee and Tahoe), we plan to just get the cheapest hotel option -- I assume that's near the Reno airport or somewhere between Reno and Truckee. Any thoughts on that are appreciated.

    And, if anyone is free on Friday and wants to join us in our effort to earn some turns, we'll buy the beer.

    Thanks BC folk.

  • #2
    Cheers....the big car issue is that CA is really strict on their chain controls...don't have 4wd or chains when they are req'd and you will be turned around. IMO you could book without and if it looks like you're coming in the middle of a snowstorm, re-evaluate and scramble. Unlike the Rockies where snow showers can linger for weeks, we generally get dumps and then it clears....unless you have the good fortune to come when there are a series of storms lined up across the Pacific, all heading our way. Then, rejoice in the bounty of Ullr!

    One of the best BC areas is off the Mt Rose highway, 25 minutes from Reno, and then you can continue to Squaw around the lake.

    Cheapest lodging in Reno (where you don't risk immediate divorce for being too cheap) is likely Motel 6. Do the usual internet search. Ain't nothing between Reno and Truckee, for much of the way I-80 is in an impressive canyon. You might get a cheap room in one of the casinos but staying at a traditional motel is easier in easier out. If you're going to ski off the Mt Rose highway you would rather stay on the south side of town, but it's a small town. The hotels near the airport won't break your bank but I doubt they are the cheapest.

    My ski plans that weekend have not yet been decided...but I'm on the other side of the lake, now.
    Last edited by Baaahb; 18 December 2013, 08:42 PM.


    • #3
      You can buy chains in Reno for a lot less $ than renting an SUV, if you get there and conditions warrant--any Pep Boys or decent-sized auto parts place, some hardware stores, Sears, Kmart, whatever--Reno is a land of chain stores. Do a little Google searching before you get there, and unless it's late Thursday night you should be able to take care of business then and get up and get to skiing Friday.


      • #4
        You don't need no stinkin' SUV. Just rent a Subaru. Any one will do, but an Outback is best. Solid and reliable in the snow and you don't need to explain anything if you have to go through chain-check. It's the dominant brand in Truckee for a reason.

        ain't no turn like tele!


        • #5
          From what I gather so far this season, just don't forget to bring your ice skates and hockey stick if things keep going the way they are going now.....
          the fall line is your friend.... resistance is futile


          • #6
            Good advice, thanks folks. I'll stick with the Corolla for now and adjust depending on weather, cost of upgrades to AWD cars, chain-hassle factor, etc., and Yelp lead me to a moderately priced room ($90) in the Reno area (which balances price and crappy reviews and is dirt cheap compared to Alaskan crap hotel prices).

            Thanks for the tip re Mt. Rose Hwy -- as you locals know, there's a ton of info. online, so I'll check out options off that road.

            Originally posted by tele.skier
            From what I gather so far this season, just don't forget to bring your ice skates and hockey stick if things keep going the way they are going now.....
            I hope that's the equivalent of bringing the umbrella so it doesn't rain. Of course, this is the first time my wife and I will have a multi-night journey to ourselves since our first kid was born (he's now 5 years old), so if we end up inebriated in a hot tub for 3 days, all will not be lost.


            • #7
              MLK weekend around here is huge so whatever plans you make re: car and lodging needs to be done right away. As far as what car? I would go with Dostie and try to get a AWD. IMO, you really need a margin of safety as there will be so many gapers out on the road that weekend with huge traffic delays and stupidity. Rooms that weekend will be at premium too, check the Casinos or maybe motels in South Reno.

              As far as some BC tours, Lots of advanced tours off 431(mt. Rose hiway). Not many options going toward Truckee. If it were me I would do the 431 option as you are pressed for time. I think once you go toward Truckee to do the Squaw thing on MLK, just focus on getting there, parking and the rest. We might be available to do a 431 tour. Right now the conditions are weak, but once we get into a snow pattern, there can be lots of feet so much so that travel can stop. The road crews will be working to keep it open, that weekend is a huge $$ maker.
              "Just say no to groomed snow"


              • #8
                Cheap lodging: Everything's pretty full-priced in North Tahoe and Truckee. South Tahoe too, except that there are some bare-bones motels in the mix too.

                Stay in Reno if you want to save money on lodging. No, not Motel 6, yuck. Go to the discount hotel booking sites like Priceline and you should be able to find a deal on a casino tower room, or something else that's not too shabby. We stayed in a very nice room in the upper half of Grand Sierra (which isn't technically part of the Grand Sierra Hotel, and was booked under some other hotel name), and it was dirt cheap (even with the "resort fee"), probably less than Motel 6 would have been. The one disadvantage of casino hotels is a longish walk from parking. Also, some of them are sleazy and run down, but doing a TripAdvisor check before booking is part of the game.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by bobs
                  No, not Motel 6, yuck.
                  Yes, stay away from Motel 6. If it's a Thursday night only stay you should be able to get into one of nicer Casinos for a decent rate. The traffic on HWY 89 out of Squaw/Alpine on MLK can suck big time. Since you are committed to be up at Squaw I would suck it up and pay to stay at Squaw if possible you won't have to deal with ridiculous traffic or hang out up at the village and let the traffic clear before heading to Tahoe or Truckee.

                  If you want a good meal/drink in Reno go to the Mid Town District. Reno is a fun town if you navigate away from the Casinos and strip malls.
                  Food: Midtown Eats, Sup, Granite St., Greatful Gardens.
                  Drink: Chapel Tavern, Ceol, Public House, Craft.
                  Last edited by JRM; 19 December 2013, 11:31 AM.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by JRM
                    The traffic on HWY 89 out of Squaw/Alpine on MLK can suck big time. Since you are committed to be up at Squaw I would suck it up and pay to stay at Squaw if possible you won't have to deal with ridiculous traffic or hang out up at the village and let the traffic clear before heading to Tahoe or Truckee.
                    I was actually going to recommend the same thing. All of the roads in the Greater Tahoe area, but especially 89 between Truckee and Tahoe City, are an absolute ****show over MLK Weekend. If it's storming, they're even worse. The idea of driving up and down from Reno to Squaw at the beginning and end of the day over that weekend is a daunting one. The upside of staying at Squaw is that you'd have less need for AWD because you wouldn't be driving much...

                    Edit: Another option... forgo the car altogether. Airport shuttle or cab to hotel on Thursday night. Squaw shuttle on Friday morning. Shuttle from Squaw to Alpine on Friday morning. Tour out in the Grouse Rock/Twin Peaks area near Alpine. Shuttle back to Squaw. Stay and ski Squaw. Shuttle back to airport. Just a thought.
                    Last edited by LightRanger; 19 December 2013, 09:30 PM.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by bobs
                      a very nice room in the upper half of Grand Sierra
                      yuck, you had to ride an elevator???? and listen to that music???

                      Why, we stayed in a Motel 6 just the other night. It was the most spartan room you have ever seen. Now I know where all those old 12-inch cathode ray TV's end up. Not even a coffee maker, and we had to bring in the car blanket to keep warm. But it was clean, they welcomed our dog, and there was no time wasted hanging around or checking in/checking out.


                      • #12
                        I believe you. It's still common for Motel 6 to be the best moderately priced place in small towns and at random freeway exits. That's true in, say, Auburn. However, the chain has become more of a mixed bag than it used to be, and I've learned to avoid the 6 in urban areas, even if I don't know for sure that that particular 6 is kind of dive-y (and in fact, I don't know the Reno one).


                        • #13
                          Great input, thanks. And confession time: I'm sure I'll be one of those gapers. I've basically skied at two podunk ski areas in my life -- the one in Juneau and one in Akureyri, Iceland. The couple that's celebrating their eventual marriage rented a house through VRBO for 12 of us for Fri. and Sat. nights -- it's a pretty sweet deal and it's in Tahoe (about 10 miles to Squaw). So, yes, a gaping bonanza.

                          I did get a room at Homeweood Suites near the Reno airport for Thursday, and then we'll ski somewhere off Hwy 431 on Friday. Once in town, we'll probably drive very little, other than to and from the ski area.


                          • #14
                            Excellent. I sure hope we have a snowpack by then.


                            • #15
                              Bump for more advice . . .

                              Looking at Quadzilla's pics. from this last Sunday on the Tahoe conditions thread, I'm (still) planning to bring gear for BC touring this Friday. My wife's vote is to skate ski at Tahoe Donner (she does it regularly, I never have). The forecast is, well, I won't mention it, but I'm curious if anyone has an opinion on the better activity in light of current conditions -- skate skiing or searching for a place to skin (the previous consensus was to find a place to skin off of Mt. Rose Hwy).