We like to think that all roads lead to adventure in Reno, and that can also mean the roads leading to Reno. The Los Angeles to Reno drive is one that all road trip lovers should plan to take. Between the incredible views, unique stops and the exhilarating feeling of cruising on the open road, the drive from Los Angeles to Reno is a can’t miss experience.
Have questions about the most scenic route and where to stop along the way, or are you simply looking for the fastest way to Reno from Los Angeles or San Diego? Keep reading for the information you need to plan your road trip from Southern California to Reno Tahoe.
The drive time from LA to Reno can vary depending on which route you choose to take. Luckily, the shorter and faster route is also the more scenic option, with more unique roadside attractions. Taking Ca. Highway 14 to US Highway 395 and Interstate 580 takes just under eight hours if you don’t stop along the way… but of course, we recommend planning some stops to take in the sights.
The other option when driving from LA to Reno is to take Interstate 5 to Ca. Highway 99 and Interstate 80, which takes you through the farmlands of central California before you head over Donner Pass into Reno. This route is about 40 miles longer and usually the driving time is a little over eight hours without any stops.
If you are driving from San Diego to Reno, plan to take Interstate 15 to US 395 and I-580. This drive typically takes just under nine and a half hours, but with so many sights to see along the way, we suggest taking your time and making the most of the trip.
Taking Hwy 14 to US 395 and I-580 is about 10 minutes faster than taking I-5 if you don’t plan for any stops along the way. We highly recommend you take your time so you can enjoy the drive and make memories on your way to Reno Tahoe.
Of course, the fastest way to Reno from Los Angeles is by airplane, with a flight time from Los Angeles, CA to Reno-Tahoe International Airport of just under an hour and a half. If you’re looking for speed, take a flight to Reno, but if you’re more about the journey, then driving is the way to go! Driving also gives you the ability to pack all of your own outdoor equipment and the freedom to explore the region once you’re here.
Planning a road trip from Southern California to Reno can seem daunting, but with some preparation and research using our trusty road trip travel guide, it’s going to make the journey as fun as the destination.
When you take US 395, the landscape between Southern California and Reno Tahoe changes dramatically as you drive north along the Sierra Nevada mountains, affording those making the drive with plenty of opportunities to take in the views, as well as some can’t-miss dining options to keep you fueled up for the drive to Reno, NV.
Death Valley National Park offers incredible views of salt peaks and the lowest point in North America. The sunset against the contoured peaks and sand dunes is an incredible sight to see.
To reach Death Valley National Park, you can either head northeast at Ca. Highway 178 or take Ca. Highway 190, both of which bring you to Panamint Springs on the western edge of the park.
If you choose to travel here in the summer, make sure to bring a lot of water and sun protection. The temperatures can soar to record-level heat of more than 120 degrees!
Lone Pine is a small town along US 395, so there are no detours required for this stop. The surrounding Alabama Hills will remind you of scenes from a Western, and rightfully so since this location was where more than 150 movies and a dozen television shows have been filmed, including The Lone Ranger and How the West Was Won.
If you roll into Lone Pine early enough, stop into Alabama Hills Café & Bakery for a hearty breakfast. Remember to grab something sweet for the road!
Lone Pine is about 12 miles from Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48. If hiking or mountain climbing is your thing, consider adding a couple of days to your trip to fit in the hike of a lifetime.
Located about halfway between Los Angeles and Reno, Bishop is another stop that offers views of the Sierra Nevada mountains and an opportunity to stretch your legs and refuel, both your vehicle and yourself.
Be sure to check out the small town’s famous bakeries. Erick Schat’s Bakery offers European-style baked goods and sandwiches, or try Great Basin Bakery, offering yummy sandwiches, soups and salads.
When you reach Lee Vining, you can head west over Tioga Pass into Yosemite National Park. Make sure to check for road closures since this route into the park sometimes doesn’t open until late June due to snow.
Once in the park, there is boundless hiking and sights that are truly jaw-dropping, including Half Dome, Bridalveil Falls and Yosemite Falls, just to name a few. If Yosemite National Park is on your road trip itinerary, plan for enough time to explore.
Lake Tahoe is a short drive from downtown Reno so it’s an easy day trip during your vacation, but you can also add it to your trip from Southern California, making the home stretch even more scenic.
As you approach Carson City, turn west onto US Highway 50 towards Lake Tahoe and then follow NV Highway 28 north along the eastern shore of the lake, past Sand Harbor State Park. When you reach Incline Village turn onto NV Highway 431 which will take you over the summit of Mount Rose and into Reno, with plenty of panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and Washoe Valley. Check out Lake Tahoe on a map to view hotels and attractions in the area.
Welcome to Reno! While you experienced some exciting and fun attractions along the way, Reno is sure to offer you even more good times.
Get some rest at one of Reno’s many hotels before you try your luck on the casino floor or head out to a local restaurant or brewery. With plenty of urban adventures and endless outdoor activities, the hardest part will be leaving!
Whether you’re a seasoned road tripper or new to the Los Angeles to Reno drive, there are plenty of stops to explore with your friends and family before you reach the Biggest Little City. This drive is anything but boring!
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