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San Francisco to Boise
July 1, 2014 9:52 AM   Subscribe

Is it crazy to drive from San Francisco, CA to Boise, ID (around Labor Day weekend)?

We'd be in Idaho for about 4 days, and the 10-11 hour drive is about the limit of what we are willing to do in one day. But what worries me is the drive back from Boise to San Francisco would take us right by Tahoe (and Reno, and Sacramento, etc.) on Labor Day.

Usually we'd fly, but the flight times that work for us are all over $400 each (there would be two of us).
posted by 2bucksplus to Travel & Transportation around Boise, ID (7 answers total)
 
Not that crazy, but you've got to LOVE road-trips. Most likely you'll hit traffic on the return, starting when you get to 50, and down to 80. I think 10-11 hours is optimistic at best. That's with NO traffic and no road obstructions. Allow an extra 2 hours, for bathroom breaks, traffic, cows in the road, etc.

Remember, that part of 50 from Placerville through Tahoe is narrow and full of switchbacks, you won't be doing 65 on that part of the trip. You can probably put a brick on the gas pedal once you're out of Reno though.

If you avoid traveling on Friday and Monday, I'd do it. Just don't do the most heavily traveled days. Leave Thursday, return Tuesday, shouldn't be an issue.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:13 AM on July 1


Remember, that part of 50 from Placerville through Tahoe is narrow and full of switchbacks

Don't even need to really touch the 50 unless South Lake Tahoe is a planned stop (if we're talking about doing a 10-11 hour drive in one day I'd assume it's not). I'd guess the route will be I-80 to US 95 and that's it.
posted by LionIndex at 10:45 AM on July 1


But what worries me is the drive back from Boise to San Francisco would take us right by Tahoe (and Reno, and Sacramento, etc.) on Labor Day.

I can tell you from firsthand experience Labor Day traffic on 80 and 50 between Reno and San Francisco is terrible. You're stuck in blazing heat, surrounded by campers and RVs returning from Burning Man and points beyond. If you can, delay your return until early Tuesday morning.
posted by mattdidthat at 11:11 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]


Not crazy. We've done the drive many times (from The north Bay Area) once with a 4 month old and it was fine. We break it up and stop over night in Winnemucca on the drive there. We do straight through on the way back. I'm not sure about traffic through Tahoe, my guess is Sacramento will be worse than coming down the mountain.
posted by Swisstine at 11:15 AM on July 1


If you think traffic will be an issue that way, you could take the scenic route

Boise to Ontario Oregon, US Hwy 26, to US Hwy 20, to Riley Oregon. Hwy 395 from there takes you all the way to Alturas, CA. Hwy 299 takes you to Redding and then go home.

Take it from me, that is a very beautiful scenic route. You will stop for photos and stand in awe. It is about 90 mins to 2 hours longer than the Tahoe route, but traffic will be a minor, if any, issue.

Bonus: Most of the route is off of "the interstate".
posted by Leenie at 11:20 AM on July 1 [4 favorites]


Any other holiday weekend I wouldn't worry about it, but driving between here and Reno during Burning Man is the worst (which is why I'm seriously debating if I want to visit my parents during Labor Day weekend). I'll echo what Leenie said and suggest spending an extra two hours driving to avoid any travel between Reno and Sacramento by taking 20/395/5.

Bonus: On the way home you can stop at McArthur-Burney Falls State Park. Or Lassen. Or Shasta. Or any of the other awesome California state parks in the northeast part of state.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:33 PM on July 1


One other note: Oregon is very enthusiastic about speed limits (especially with out-of-staters, and during holiday weekends), and the 122-mile section of highway 95 from the Idaho border to McDermitt has a 55mph speed limit. So believe it when Google tells you that that part will take 2.1 hours or so.
posted by Hatashran at 8:53 PM on July 1 [2 favorites]


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