5 Closest Airports to Lake Tahoe, California [Plus Directions & Transport Options]

A beautiful aerial view of South Lake Tahoe on the Nevada side, closest airport to Lake Tahoe featured image

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‎‎ | Last updated: October 18th, 2023

TL;DR: The closest airport to Lake Tahoe is the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. This airport is about 47 miles or a 55-minute drive away from North Lake Tahoe and 58 miles or a 1.25-hour drive away from South Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe is a bucket list vacation destination in the Golden State, but getting there by plane is a little complex. 

You may need some guidance in finding airports near Lake Tahoe, and I’m here to help you in your search.

The Reno Airport is the closest airport to Lake Tahoe–for sure–but just because it’s the nearest airport doesn’t always make it the best choice. 

There’s no need to search for the best choice on your own. Below I’ve highlighted the five nearest airports to Lake Tahoe, including both small regional airports as well as the major ones. 

Once you’ve chosen your best Lake Tahoe airport option, I’ve researched the available car rental, public transport, and private tour options, and even included some fun facts about each route. 

Read on to find out which of the closest airports to Lake Tahoe to fly into and how to get around once you’ve landed and retrieved your luggage from baggage claim.

Note: this article contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

A beautiful picture of Lake Tahoe taken from a flight

Map of the Closest Airports to Lake Tahoe

What is the Closest Airport to Lake Tahoe?

Reno-Tahoe International Airport

Photo taken outside Reno-Tahoe International Airport

Distance from Lake Tahoe: North 51 mins (37.4 mi), South; 1 hr 6 mins (58.1 mi)

Why it’s worth flying into: Reno-Tahoe International Airport is the closest airport to Lake Tahoe. If you’re low on vacation time, your search is over because Reno-Tahoe is the airport for you. 

In addition to being the closest airport to Lake Tahoe, Reno-Tahoe is also the nearest airport to the Lake Tahoe ski resorts. 

The Reno and Lake Tahoe airport isn’t a major airport, but it’s big enough, with plenty of options for rental cars and direct flights.

Airlines Available:

  • American
  • Delta
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Allegiant
  • Frontier
  • Jet Blue
  • JSX
  • Southwest 
  • United 
  • Volaris

General Cost: Moderate

Location: Reno-Tahoe International Airport is in central Reno, NV (northeast of Lake Tahoe), just off Highway 380. 

Rental Car Options: The Reno Airport has all the major car rental companies. 

  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar
  • Enterprise
  • Hertz
  • National
  • Payless
  • Thrifty

Non-Stop Flight Options

Reno Tahoe International Airport has many direct flight options. Direct flights from inside California include:

  • Arcata/Eureka (ACV) – Seasonal
  • Burbank (BUR)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Orange County Santa Ana (SNA)
  • Long Beach (LGB)
  • San Diego (SAN)
  • Oakland (OAK)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • San Jose (SJC)

Direct flights from outside California include:

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

How to Get From Reno-Tahoe International Airport to Lake Tahoe

Directions to South Lake: To get to South Lake Tahoe from the Reno Tahoe International Airport, you’ll take Interstate 580/US-395 South towards Carson City. 

From there, you’ll take US-50 E towards South Lake Tahoe. 

Directions to North Lake Tahoe: To get to North Lake Tahoe from the Reno Airport, take Interstate 80 West towards Truckee. In Truckee, you’ll take CA-267 to Lake Tahoe (North) and Tahoe City. 

Type of Road: Paved highway. 

Scenery: The Reno Tahoe International Airport is in the desert of Nevada’s basin and range landscape. 

When you land at the Reno Airport, you’ll wonder where all the trees and water are, but once you’re through baggage claim and on the road, the landscape will quickly transition to the evergreen trees and rolling hills famous around Lake Tahoe. 

Public Transit Options: The North Lake Tahoe Express ($60) or South Tahoe Airporter ($35)

Other Airports Close to Lake Tahoe

Sacramento International Airport

Image of the red rabbit sculpture hanging at Sacramento International Airport

Distance from Lake Tahoe: North; 2 hr 4 min (120 mi),  South; 2 hr 11 min (113 mi)

Why it’s worth flying into: It’s the closest major airport to Lake Tahoe and often cheaper than Reno Tahoe. 

After the Reno Airport, the Sacramento Airport is the closest airport to Lake Tahoe. And unlike Reno-Tahoe, this is a much larger airport. 

In addition to the relative closeness, this major airport is often cheaper and offers more direct flight options than Reno Tahoe. 

Airlines Available:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • AeroMexico
  • American Airlines
  • Air Canada
  • Boutique
  • Contour
  • Delta
  • JetBlue
  • Frontier
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Spirit
  • Southwest
  • Sun Country Airlines
  • United
  • Volaris

General Cost: Low-moderate

Location: 6900 Airport Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95837. The Sacramento Airport is in the northwest area of the city. 

Rental Car Options: Rent a car from any of the major rental car companies at the Sacramento Airport.  

  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar Rent-a-Car
  • Enterprise
  • Hertz
  • National
  • Payless
  • Thrifty
  • Zipcar

Non-Stop Flight Options:

Direct flights from inside California include:

  • Burbank (BUR)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Long Beach (LGB)
  • Ontario (ONT)
  • Orange County Santa Ana (SNA)
  • Palm Springs (PSP)
  • San Diego (SAN)
  • San Francisco (SFO)

Direct flights from Outside California include:

  • Atlanta (ATL) 
  • Austin (AUS)
  • Baltimore (BWI)
  • Boise (BOI)
  • Boston (BOS)
  • Charlotte (CHS) 
  • Chicago/Midway (MDW)
  • Chicago/O’Hare (ORD) 
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW)
  • Dallas Love Field (DAL) 
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Guadalajara, Mexico (GDL)
  • Houston/Hobby (HOU) 
  • Houston/Intercontinental (IAH)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) – Seasonal
  • New York (JFK)
  • Newark (EWR)
  • Phoenix (PDX)
  • Portland (PDX)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • St. Louis (STL)
  • Spokane (GEG)

How to Get From Sacramento International Airport to Lake Tahoe

Directions to South Lake Tahoe: Once you’re past baggage claim and on the road from the Sacramento Airport, take I-5 S, then take US-50 E to South Lake Tahoe. 

Directions to North Lake Tahoe: Take Interstate 80 east towards Truckee from the Airport. In Truckee, you’ll take CA-267 S towards Incline Village. 

Type of Road: Paved highway. 

Scenery: You’ll take different routes depending on your destination, but I-80 and US-50 between the Sacramento Airport (SMF) and Lake Tahoe are gorgeous.

Little mountain towns dot each route, offering the opportunity to learn about pioneer history. 

Highlights on the way to North Lake Tahoe include Donner Pass and the Donner Summit Bridge. 

Highlights for the South Shore route include the Gold Discovery Museum in Coloma and the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Amador County. 

Public Transit Options: Amtrak offers a once-daily train between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe or the Reno Tahoe Airport. 

The trip to South Lake Tahoe takes about 2.5 hours. Of course, you’ll need to get a ride to the Amtrak station too. 

If you’re able to get to Truckee, you can take a bus from the Tahoe Truckee Transit to Tahoe City. 

South Lake Tahoe Shuttle Service: This shuttle service runs between SMF and South Lake Tahoe

Private Tours: You can also book a trip on Viator from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe. 

Mammoth Yosemite Airport

Picture of Mammoth Yosemite Airport in Mono County, California

Distance from Lake Tahoe: North; 3 hr 4 min (162 mi), South; 2 hr 39 min (140 mi)

Why it’s worth flying into: The Mammoth Yosemite Airport is a tiny regional airport similar to Reno-Tahoe, but it’s the next closest airport to Lake Tahoe after the Reno Airport and Sacramento International. 

Unlike Reno, this airport is near the Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe on the east side of the mountains. Mammoth Lakes is also an adorable mountain town worth checking out.

Airlines Available:

  • Advanced Air
  • United

General Cost: Moderate

Location: 1300 Airport Rd, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546. The Mammoth Yosemite Airport is located just off CA-395, about 40 minutes south of Mammoth Lakes, CA. 

Rental Car Options: The car rental options are a bit limited here compared to larger airports, but you won’t have to search too hard, as you can still get a car from one of these three major companies.

  • Enterprise
  • Hertz
  • National

Non-Stop Flight Options

Direct flights from inside California include:

  • Burbank (BUR)
  • Carlsbad (CLD)
  • Hawthorne-LA (HHR)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • San Francisco (SFO)

Direct flights from outside California include:

  • Denver (DEN)

How to Get From Mammoth Yosemite Airport to Lake Tahoe

Directions: You’ll take CA-395 N towards Reno Tahoe from the Mammoth Yosemite Airport. After Ruthenstroth, you’ll take CA-207 toward South Lake Tahoe. 

You can drive around the lake to reach North Lake Tahoe or continue straight to Carson City and turn west. 

Type of Road: Paved highway. 

Scenery: Highway 395 is one of my favorite highways in the Golden State, and the section between Mammoth Lakes is gorgeous–it’s worth a trip in its own right, which is another reason to choose this airport over the similarly-sized Reno-Tahoe.

You’ll pass Mono Lake near Lee Vining and California’s most famous ghost town, Bodie

As you meander up towards Lake Tahoe, the scenery will become greener. The fall colors are exceptional in this area. 

Public Transit Options: You can take an Eastern Sierra Transit bus from Mammoth to South Lake Tahoe, but the trip will take about six and a half hours. 

You’ll need to take a Reno Airport bus transfer and use the South Tahoe Airporter

Oakland International Airport

Aerial view of parked airplanes at Oakland International Airport

Distance from Lake Tahoe: North; 3 hr 57 min (203 mi), South; 3 hr 51 min (191 mi)

Why it’s worth flying into: The Oakland International Airport is in the Bay Area east of SF, thus avoiding *some* of the Bay Area traffic headed east, if you’re renting a car. 

OAK is the best airport for getting to Lake Tahoe if you prefer to fly on small carriers. One aspect I appreciate about this Airport is how many nonstop flights they have to airports in small towns. 

Note that this airport is by no means the closest airport to Lake Tahoe, it does have a direct flight to Reno Airport. 

Airlines Available:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Allegiant
  • Azores Airlines
  • Contour
  • Delta
  • Frontier
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JSX
  • Spirit
  • Southwest
  • Volaris

General Cost: Moderate

Location: 1 Airport Dr, Oakland, CA 94621. OAK is on SF Bay, south of Oakland, CA. 

Rental Car Options: Despite a limited number of air carriers, you can still get rental cars from all the major car rental companies. 

  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar Rent-a-Car
  • Enterprise
  • Fox
  • Hertz
  • National
  • Payless
  • Thrifty

Non-Stop Flight Options

Nonstop Flights from inside California include:

  • Burbank (BUR)
  • Crescent City (CEC)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Long Beach (LGB)
  • Ontario (ONT)
  • Orange County Santa Ana (SNA)
  • Palm Springs (PSP)
  • San Diego (SAN)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Santa Barbara (SBA)

Nonstop Flights Outside California include:

  • Albuquerque (ALB)
  • Atlanta (ATL) 
  • Austin (AUS)
  • Bellingham (BLI)
  • Boise (BOI)
  • Chicago/Midway (MDW)
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Eugene (EUG)
  • Guadalajara, Mexico (GDL)
  • Houston/Hobby (HOU) 
  • Idaho Falls (IDA)
  • Kalispell (FCA)
  • Kansas City (MCI)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Missoula (MSO)
  • Nashville (BNA)
  • New York (JFK)
  • Phoenix (PDX)
  • Portland (PDX)
  • Reno (RNO)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • St. Louis (STL)
  • Spokane (GEG)

How to Get From Sacramento International Airport to Lake Tahoe

Directions: From OAK, you’ll take I-880 N. From there, you’ll need to choose if you’re going to the North Shore or South Shore. You’ll take the same routes I described above after this leg. 

Note that this route has tolls (but fewer than flying into SF). 

Type of Road: Paved highway (with tolls)

Scenery: I won’t sugarcoat it; the scenery between the Bay Area and Sacramento is nothing to write home about. 

The Bay Area is significantly developed, so you’ll go through some large towns between agricultural land until you hit Sacramento. 

The views improve as you enter the Sierra Nevada Mountains. 

Public Transit Options: A public transit bus trip to Lake Tahoe is a good option if you can’t drive or don’t want to rent a car. 

You can take an Amtrak straight to South Lake Tahoe. This journey takes just over five hours (not bad considering you don’t have to drive in traffic) and costs around $55 (much cheaper than a car rental). 

You can take a bus (using Busbud) to Sacramento, and from there, you’d need to take an Amtrak bus to Lake Tahoe. 

San Francisco International Airport

International Terminal of San Francisco International Airport

Distance from Lake Tahoe: North shore; 4 hr 2 min (210 mi),  South shore; 3 hr 59 min (199 mi)

Why it’s worth flying into: SFO isn’t the closest airport to Lake Tahoe, but it offers the widest selection of carriers and non-stop flights, often at the best price. 

According to California’s ranking of cheapest airports, SFO is the cheapest airport near Lake Tahoe. After Los Angeles International (LAX), this is the biggest airport in California. 

One fun thing about this option is you can explore all the unique things to do in San Francisco if you fly into the San Francisco Airport!

Airlines Available: The San Francisco Airport has the widest selection of airline carriers out of any of the airports on this list. 

They have such a wide selection I won’t list them all (see the complete list here). Here’s a taste of the popular carriers that fly there. 

  • Alaska Airlines
  • AeroMexico
  • American Airlines
  • Air Canada
  • Boutique
  • Contour
  • Delta
  • JetBlue
  • Frontier
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Spirit
  • Southwest
  • Sun Country Airlines
  • United
  • Volaris

General Cost: Low-Moderate

Location: San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, CA 94128. The SF Airport is south of SF proper, closer to Millbrae, CA. It’s right on SF Bay. 

Rental Car Options: After baggage claim, you can rent a car from any of the major rental car companies at SFO. 

  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar Rent-a-Car
  • Enterprise
  • Hertz
  • National
  • Payless
  • Sixt
  • Thrifty

Non-Stop Flight Options: There are more than 125 non-stop flight destinations from SFO. This airport has the most direct flights within California and the most international options (which I won’t get into here). 

Nonstop Flights from inside California include:

  • Arcata/Eureka (ACV)
  • Bakersfield (BFL)
  • Burbank (BUR)
  • Fresno (FAT)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Long Beach (LGB)
  • Ontario (ONT)
  • Orange County Santa Ana (SNA)
  • Palm Springs (PSP)
  • Redding (RDD)
  • Sacramento (SMF)
  • San Diego (SAN)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • San Luis Obispo (SBP)
  • Santa Barbara (SBA)

Nonstop Flights from Outside California include:

  • Albuquerque (ALB)
  • Anchorage (ANC)
  • Atlanta (ATL) 
  • Aspen (ASE)
  • Austin (AUS)
  • Bellingham (BLI)
  • Bend/Redmond (RDM)
  • Boise (BOI)
  • Boston (BOS)
  • Bozman (BZN)
  • Charlotte (CLT)
  • Chicago/Midway (MDW)
  • Cleveland (CLE)
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW)
  • Dallas Love Field (DAL)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Detroit (DTW)
  • Eugene (EUG)
  • Guadalajara, Mexico (GDL)
  • Houston/Hobby (HOU) 
  • Honolulu (HNL)
  • Idaho Falls (IDA)
  • Kalispell (FCA)
  • Kansas City (MCI)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • Minneapolis (MSP)
  • Missoula (MSO)
  • Nashville (BNA)
  • New York (JFK)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Phoenix (PDX)
  • Portland (PDX)
  • Reno (RNO)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • Sun Valley/Ketchum (SUN)
  • St. Louis (STL)
  • Spokane (GEG)
  • Tampa (TPA)
  • Tucson (TUS)
  • Washington (DCA)

How to Get From the SF Airport to Lake Tahoe

Directions: To get to Lake Tahoe in a car, continue to CA 101 N from the SF Airport. You’ll pick up I-80 E, and you can take that to Sacramento and then North Tahoe if that’s your destination. 

If you’re heading to South Lake Tahoe, you’ll take US-50 E after Sacramento. 

Type of Road: Paved highway (with tolls)

Scenery: SF can be an excellent place to rent a car and drive through on your way to Lake Tahoe if the fog hasn’t completely shrouded in the city. 

You may glimpse the famous Golden Gate Bridge on your way out, but you’ll drive over the less famous Bay Bridge to get to Oakland. 

The remainder of the drive is the same route you’d take if you started from the East Bay or Sacramento. 

Public Transit Options: Despite not being the closest major airport, there are still a few options for public transport if you don’t want to rent a car. 

Greyhound: You can take a Greyhound bus from SF to Truckee. The trip takes about six hours and costs around $40. You’d then need to take the TART (Tahoe Truckee Area Regional Transportation) to Tahoe City, an extra hour-long trip. 

Sourced Adventures: Rent a seat on a ski bus from SF to Lake Tahoe. This bus will take you to either Boreal Mountain or Sugar Bowl Ski Resorts.  

Sports Basement Ski Bus: This weekend-only shuttle runs during ski season and takes San Franciscans to Lake Tahoe by way of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. 

Private Tour: Take your trip to Lake Tahoe in style in a private one-day tour via Viator


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mimi McFadden Headshot

Mimi McFadden
Founder & Editor-In-Chief

When it comes to gift giving, Mimi has it down to a science. With a degree in psychology, she knows that the key to a meaningful and memorable gift is a personalized approach–always paying attention to someone’s unique interests and passions. Since she was little, Mimi has wholeheartedly embraced the tradition of gift giving. Now, she loves crafting fun gift guides to inspire others to level-up their gifting game and to find that perfect gift.

Author photo of Meredith Dennis, showing a blonde woman in a pink beanie grinning with trees and a vista in the background.

Meredith Dennis

Meredith is a biologist and writer based in California’s Sierra Nevada. She has lived in six states as a biologist, so her intel on hiking and camping is *chef’s kiss* next level. One of her earliest camping memories was being too scared to find a bathroom at night on a family camping trip. Thankfully, she’s come a long way since then and she can help you get there too!


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Hi, I'm Mimi! I'm an outdoorsy Californian who has spent over 28 years immersed in the incredible natural beauty that California has to offer. My goal is to inspire others to get out and find their next adventure in California. Whether it’s escaping to an alpine lake in the Sierras, finding peace among the giant redwoods, or road tripping down the PCH, there’s always more to explore in this beautiful state.

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