Travel Tips: How To Go Back to the Bay

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Your objective.
Your objective: Transporting yourself from Lake Tahoe to Bay Area.

Going Back to the Bay: Tips, Tricks, and Handy Guidelines

by Chris Cloyd

Driving home from a local ski resort the other day – a holiday Sunday – I felt pangs of sympathy for my fellow skiers and snowboarders in their cars. I only had a 10 minute drive home, but most of them had 3+ hours of interstate between them and their homes in SanWalnutCreekJoseMarinPaloAltoBerkeleyOaklandFrancisco. Cruel, cruel fate. I warmed myself with the knowledge that they all assuredly had multiple episodes of Serial synched to their Bluetooth-enabled Lexus, but I knew that that could only get them so far. I vowed at that moment to use my local knowledge and this media pulpit to help my fellow man and woman climb the unclimbable mountain, fulfill their destiny, and do what the world wills them to do: go back to the Bay.

(Author’s note: For the sake of our discussion here, we’re assuming that our guests from the Bay are skiing and riding at Northstar. My totally scientific study reflected the following data: based on the number of Giants logos counted in lift lines, Northstar enjoys the most traffic from the Bay area.)

Serenity in the mountains/Christmas weekend in Tahoe (Photo: Chris Cloyd)


As with most things in life, timing is everything. That being the case, let’s take the time to milk every minute of our ski trip. At Northstar, the resort is kind enough to offer s’mores to every guest at 3 PM. Free of charge! Alternatively, you can pay $120 for the s’mores and ski for FREE. That’s how you spell value, ladies and gentlemen. Once you’ve enjoyed your $120 s’mores, you can take the free shuttle back to your Mercedes Benz with a belly fully of satisfaction. Moreover, most of your brethren are already on the road, and you’ll most likely enjoy scenic open roads on your way to Tahoe City. Sure, you could drive straight to Truckee and Interstate 80, but…

Photos for Social Media

You can’t get selfies with Lake Tahoe in the background in Truckee. And, of course, no trip from the Bay to Tahoe is complete without a photo on your Instagram feed of you in front of the Big Blue Lake. But you’re not just a traveler from the Bay; you’re unique – and your photo needs to be unique, too. The most unique photos of Lake Tahoe all come from one place: Commons Beach in Tahoe City. To ensure your individuality shines on your Twitter feed, this author recommends a trip to Tahoe City. You can park your Tesla across the street from the beach at the FREE charging station and power up for your drive home while you get the shot you need to commemorate your trip. Breathe it in:

The view of Lake Tahoe that no one ever sees, and the one that DEFINITELY doesn’t get photographed (Photo: Chris Cloyd)

Last Minute Shopping

As you leave the charging station, you’ll note the Save Mart Supermarket as you leave Tahoe City. You could indeed shop here, but you’d be missing out on one of the greatest traditions shared by all Bay area travelers on their trips to Lake Tahoe: shopping at Safeway in Truckee at peak hours. If you’ve heeded the sage advice included in this essay, it’s about 5:30 PM and you’re starting to get hungry again now that your $120 s’mores are digested. Now is the PERFECT time to swing into the Truckee Safeway for some road fuel and some other foodstuffs that you absolutely, positively need to pick up in Truckee before you head back to the Bay. Now, you won’t be the only one enjoying this fine tradition on your way back to the bay, but that’s to be expected. Experiences this great are the worthy pursuit of many.

It’s the sharing of experiences that brings us together (Photo: Chris Cloyd’s Google Query)

These circumstances would prove challenging to some, but you, esteemed reader of this essay, are prepared. You parked at the east end of the parking lot, by Tahoe, and you backed your Range Rover in so that you can hastily exit the fray when your shopping experience is over. Moreover, you’re advantageously positioned for your last stop on the way out of town…

Obligatory Lake Tahoe Stickers for your Car/Apparel for your Closet

Tahoe Mountain Sports is my favorite place to shop for all of my Lake Tahoe-centric needs, and it should be yours too. After all, you can’t buy the goods you need with the silhouette of the Big Blue Lake on them in the Mission. More importantly, you can’t get the “Keep Tahoe Blue” sticker that your Prius NEEDS in the Mission. So you swing into Tahoe Mountain Sports, grab a sticker and you put it on your bumper right above your “Coexist” sticker. Now no one will ever mistakenly think again that you only care about “the environment” – they’ll know that you also care about “the environment in Lake Tahoe”.

Because it would be unthinkable to keep your beliefs to yourself (Photo: Chris Cloyd’s Google Query)

I charge you now, travelers, to use these tips and tricks to enhance your experience the next time you’re gearing up to go back to the Bay. I’m confident that with a little planning, these local secrets, and the dirty Chai you’re sipping right now in your Nissan Leaf, you too will have the knowledge and focus to go back to the Bay in style. Travel well, guests of our region. Travel well.

See you soon! (Photo: Chris Cloyd’s Google Query)

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17 thoughts on “Travel Tips: How To Go Back to the Bay

  1. I,m headed up on hwy 80 right now, have my dynafit at set up i recently bought at rei and am looking to shred some side country lines.

    Do i need to check in with patrol if i want to ski off granite peak to ski nat geo bowl?

    I heard theres open boundary policy cause squaw owns alpine to so its all the same now.

    I’ll be @starbucks tmrw Sat@ 8:45 if any locals want to meet up and do this with me. my girlfriend is down too and has a rad set up too.
    I think it will be way cool to meet some locals and make some new friends.
    I’ ll be wearing my orange arcterx jac and bright geen pants.
    Looking forward to riding my new set up. Lets hook up. k?

    Btw, anybody have any info on conditions off nat geo would be appreciated. Thx

    We’ll be @ rocker for apres if u want to meet for a beer after.

  2. The raddest bay area skiers I’ve seen are the ones who have something about skiing KT 22 on their vanity license plates, second raddest have plates that say something about Tahoe.

    For my next set of plates, I’m gonna get ‘Bay Rules’, if it already isn’t taken……

  3. The only thing worse than the gaper hopping into a prius with a “keep tahoe blue” sticker is the smug “local” hoping into his subaru with Vermont plates and a “ski the east” sticker

  4. The reason more people ski at northstar is because the ski consumer demands customer service , northstar does it better than any ski resort in Lake Tahoe , plus they spent millions of dollars on their snowmaking system and make more man made snow than any other ski resort in Tahoe . The conditions suck everywhere but the Bay Area skier doesn’t seem to care ! It’s more like dirt skiing with a little snow just to make it seem like it’s skiing !

  5. Mike, the author snowboards, he does not ski.
    Jwid, we all spend some money at the resorts.
    Colin, you are right.

    If you are pissed about this, you’ve got some serious first world problems. Laugh a little.

  6. I kept waiting for the funny part or something useful like these tips :
    Using the Caltrans road when the road is shut because it is always plowed because the service vehicles.
    The through exit in Sac that leads you back onto the freeway and you gain 1/4 of a mile in stopped traffic.
    Get off at Sierra College and take the side road around if Roseville is jammed up.
    But the best thing I learned from this is… Northstar has free s’mores! Man, how could I have been so robbed? But then again if they gave them out at Squaw, people would complain about it.

  7. Having traveled to and from the SF Bay or Sac for the last 30 years this both pissed me off and amused me !! Nicely done !!

    1. That wasn’t that funny either. You built it up too much. Hope the guy has a day job.
      Speaking as seasoned Flatlander, he forgot to mention to split the list and give all members a basket to retrieve items. The leader of the group gets in line with the cart and receives the items. If single expedition, leave the cart near the far end of the store and dash down the aisles for items and return to the home base cart.

  8. Thanks to the Bay Area visitors and their ability to buy Range Rovers, Mercedes and $120 s’mores, the Tahoe economy stays afloat. We all know the locals aren’t buying Tahoe apparel or spending $ at the resorts.

  9. What is the point of this post? Tired of skiing on rocks again and have nothing better to say? This whole Tahoe local vs the bay area resident is sooooooo used up already. Everyone gets it, people who live and work in the bay area and vacation in Tahoe are complete a**holes. The only people who deserve to be enjoy Tahoe are the locals who can ski everyday and close down Pete N Peters everynight. God forbid more people come up and enjoy Tahoe on their own dime. In the meantime,, I will keep driving up from the ‘bay’ while you keep making my sandwiches and waxing my skis , maybe next time I will even put an extra $1 in the tip jar for your next PBR.

    1. I was just hoping that Snowbrains wouldnt start going down the route that Unofficial went. I read snowbrains to get insights from people who are living in Tahoe and enjoying my favorite place. I understand you need clicks and site traffic for revenue, but it would be great if we could continue to get more posts about the backcountry, hiking, biking and skiing and even insider tips to keep everyone entertained because we are reading this blog because we all have one thing in common and that is the love for tahoe.

      The conditions reports, photography, backcountry reports are amazing, keep those coming!

      I just think Snowbrains is better than this, that is all.

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