The Closest Airports to Lake Tahoe (With Trip Planning Tips)

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Lake Tahoe itself is not served by a major airport. However, you have several options for finding airports near Lake Tahoe. This guide will help you figure out which airport is best for your Tahoe trip. We also offer advice for how long it will take to get from the airports to Lake Tahoe with details about car rentals and ground transportation. 

Reno Nevada Airport: closest airport to Lake Tahoe with American Plane

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4 Closest Airports to Lake Tahoe + 1 Not to Pick

Reno Airport (RNO)

Reno has the closest airport to Lake Tahoe, and it’s located just 58 miles away. They have nonstop flights from ~23 destinations. Reno Airport (RNO) is a good choice if you are short on time, can get a direct flight or a connecting flight with a shorter layover. 

Scroll down for further detail on who flies there, how to get a car (or a shuttle) and tips for getting to the lake.

Sacramento Airport (SMF)

The Sacramento airport (SMF) is the next closest airport to Tahoe. It’s located 120 miles (and 2 hours) from the lake. You can take I-80 to North Shore or Highway 50 to South Shore.

While it’s further away, Sacramento Airport offers more direct flights than Reno, particularly from some of the smaller airports in California. Sacramento has direct flights to 9 California cities and over 30 to other US cities. It’s served by all major carriers.

Sacramento is a good choice if you can get a screamin’ deal on a direct flight. Their rental cars are also often less expensive than Reno’s. 

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

The San Francisco airport (SFO) is located 200 miles (4-5 hours) from Lake Tahoe. It’s the closest major airport to Tahoe. SFO offers direct flights from all California airports as well as all major (and many minor) airports in the US. It’s also a major international gateway to the rest of the world.

Yes, it’s 4 hours to the lake, but even with the extra drive time, SFO can be a good choice if your only option for a connecting flight to Reno has a very long layover. It also works if you want to road trip between Tahoe and San Francisco or want to visit other areas like Yosemite.

SFO also has the least expensive rental cars of any airport near Lake Tahoe.

Oakland International Airport (OAK)

Oakland (OAK) is 192 miles (3.5-4.5 hours) from Lake Tahoe. OAK serves 9 California airports and destinations in 15 other US state and Mexican destinations. SFO is bigger, but OAK is very navigable. They offer a lot of convenient flights from Southwest Airlines, if that’s your preferred carrier.

Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH)

Mammoth Yosemite Airport is 140 miles and nearly 3 hours from South Lake Tahoe. On the map, it may seem like an option. But the airport is very small and only offers seasonal service in the winter.

Any of the other choices above would be better.

Snow in South Lake Tahoe. snow and pine trees
Winter snow at the lake.

Reno Airport (RNO) Logistics

Since your most likely option is indeed the Reno airport, here is some additional information to help you plan your trip to the area. 

Non-stop Flights to Reno

Reno airport (RNO) serves the Lake Tahoe region from the following nonstop destinations: 

Flights Within California

  • Burbank (BUR)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Orange County Santa Ana (SNA)
  • Long Beach (LGB), seasonal
  • Santa Ana (SNA), seasonal
  • San Diego (SAN)
  • Oakland (OAK)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • San Jose (SJC)

Direct flights from Elsewhere

  • Atlanta (ATL) – Seasonal
  • Austin (AUS)
  • Chicago/Midway (MDW) – Seasonal
  • Chicago/O’Hare (ORD) – Seasonal
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW)
  • Dallas Love Field (DAL) – Seasonal
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Guadalajara, Mexico (GDL)
  • Houston/Hobby (HOU) – Seasonal
  • Houston/Intercontinental (IAH)
  • Las Vegas (LAS), seasonal
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) – Seasonal
  • New York (JFK), seasonal
  • Phoenix (PDX)
  • Portland (PDX)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • Seattle (SEA)

The following airlines service the Reno/Tahoe region: American, Delta, Alaska, Jet Blue, JSX, Sun Country, Southwest, United and Volaris. 

Lake Tahoe shoreline and rocks

Car Rentals in Reno

Reno is serviced by all of the major car rental providers including: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Payless and Thrifty. 

Our normal hack for getting a good deal on a car rental is to rent the smallest car available (which are often in short supply) and then hope for a free upgrade. This usually works. But size matters if you are visiting Tahoe for skiing and a smaller car may not hold all of your gear. So, be sure to book an appropriate car for your needs. 

Be aware that most rental car companies don’t rent snow chains or cables. If you are going to Tahoe for a winter trip, you may want to buck up for a more expensive rental car with all wheel drive.

Green woodie station wagon with surf board


Make sure you get the best possible deal when renting a car. Compare across brands at Or look for special member deals at Avis, Hertz, Budget or Enterprise.

The Reno can also be a good airport for a Yosemite road trip, but only if you are going in the summer and fall when Tioga pass is open.

Driving to Lake Tahoe from RNO Airport

From RNO to downtown Truckee is 38 miles and :45 minutes of drivetime via I-80. From RNO to South Lake Tahoe is 58 miles and 1+ hours via I-580 and Highway 50.

If you have time for a scenic Tahoe route, we suggest detouring down (or up) the the east side of the lake on Highway 28, stopping at the overlooks for the views.

Getting from Reno Airport to Lake Tahoe Without a Car

We do advise you to rent a car, because it will give you much more flexibility for exploring the ski resorts, state parks, museums and restaurants that dot the circumference of the lake.

But, if you’d rather not, here are your options for getting from Reno airport to Lake Tahoe using ground transportation.

Taking an Uber/Lyft/Cab from Reno to Lake Tahoe

Be sure to request an XL ride so that your gear and suitcases will fit. From Reno to Tahoe City an Uber will cost ~$100. From Reno to South Lake Tahoe, an Uber will cost ~$125. 

You can also schedule a private car service for ~$250-300. This page on the Reno airport site lists a number of providers

Taking a Shuttle from Reno to Lake Tahoe

North Lake Tahoe Express runs a route from the airport, stopping at most major hotels and ski resorts on North Shore. The cost is ~$99 (to Truckee). 

South Tahoe Airporter does the same for South Shore and it costs ~$35.

Book either in advance.

Plan Your Tahoe Trip

More Airport Resources for California Vacationers

Pin this guide for the nearest airports to Lake Tahoe:

The Closest Airport to Lake Tahoe and travel tips


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