Road Trip Nevada | The Road From San Francisco To Reno

American road trips come in all shapes and sizes and the good news is you can often devise your own itinerary. If you’re looking for variety in a road trip only 220 miles long, don’t look past flying into San Francisco, grabbing some keys to your DriveNow motorhome rental and heading for Reno, one of Nevada’s nest and the "biggest little city in the world".

Carson City here we come

Once you bid farewell to and leave the Golden Gate Bridge, it’s only a quick journey before you reach Carson City, so make sure you bring plenty of snacks for your drive.

Some of the best things in life are those kept simple and the road trip from San Francisco to Reno is a cruisy adventure in which you can space out your 4 hour journey with a few exciting stops in Carson City and Lake Tahoe along the way.

By taking Route 80, you’ll gain all the scenic highlights of Tahoe National Forest, visit the Soda Springs near the town of Truckee, absorb the incredible views at Lake Tahoe and stop for a bite to eat at Carson City.

The Bell outside the Nevada State Museum in Carson City
Explore Nevada's history at the state Museum in Carson City credit: Sydney Martinez/TravelNevada

Explore Carson City

Get prepared for your drive to Lake Tahoe in Carson City by exploring everything the city has to offer, such as the Nevada State Museum, the Nevada State Railroad Museum, Bowers Mansion Regional Park, Brewery Arts Centre, Dayton State Park and maybe even have some lunch or go hang gliding. Once you’ve seen all the sights and sounds in Carson City, it’s time for your next big road trip adventure to Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe Scenic Drive

Panoramic view of Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Breathe it all in ..... slowly: The views of Lake Tahoe are breathtaking. Credit: Travel Nevada

The Lake Tahoe Scenic Drive is a beautiful paved drive that takes you through a 68-mile loop around Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada. Following three highways, US 50, NV 28 and US 89, the scenic drive takes you through the towns of South Lake, Tahoe, Tahoe City, Incline Village, Kings Beach and several other small towns.

Southern view of Lake Tahoe in Nevada
Every picture tells a story: Prepare for some incredible mountain and lake views. Credit: Sydney Martinez/TravelNevada

Drive the loop in reverse

The best part about the Lake Tahoe Scenic Drive is the drive can begin anywhere and you will still get to see Tahoe Lake’s crystal clear waters and mountain scenery.

Spice up your road trip by taking the loop in reverse and you will nd no shortage of activities that will allow you to experience adventures while driving around Lake Tahoe by saving Tahoe to Reno for last and exploring Carson City first.

There is no shortage of things to do and see on your looping drive around Lake Tahoe.

The popular Tahoe Rim Hiking Trail can be reached by taking the short side trip to one of the passes along the lake. You can spend your day hiking through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, getting the birds-eye view of the lake from the Heavenly Gondola or kayaking in Emerald Bay.

There are also many developed campgrounds all along the lake at various California and Nevada State Parks where you can park your vehicle for a quick or overnight rest stop.

The Generator Sculpture, Reno, Nevada
Hot spot for art lovers: There’s much to explore in Reno including The Generator. Picture: TravelNevada

All action in Reno

Then it’s time for the last leg of your trip to Reno and it will only take an hour before you reach your destination, which will also take you through the town of Truckee.

Finish your road trip with a bang by checking out Pyramid Lake, shop at the Midtown District, see Broadway in Reno, The Generator for art lovers, and the Reno Arch.

If you’re lucky, you may get to see some of the wonderful events Reno holds every year, like The Great Reno Balloon Race, Burning Man, Hot August Nights and The Reno Air Races.

For more great ideas on exploring Lake Tahoe check out travelnevada.com/road-trip/lake-tahoe-loop.

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