Truckee is a pleasant town of 17,000 people (2019) in the Lake Tahoe region of California. Just east of the Donner Pass on Interstate 80, Truckee is an easy entry point for travelers from the Bay Area to the region.
Truckee began in 1863 as Gray's Station, named for Joseph Gray's Roadhouse on the Trans-Sierra wagon road. The Central Pacific Railroad selected Truckee as the name of its railroad station by August 1867, even though the tracks would not reach the station until 1868. It was renamed Truckee after a Paiute chief, whose assumed Paiute name was Tru-ki-zo. He was the father of Chief Winnemucca and grandfather of Sarah Winnemucca. The first Europeans who came to cross the Sierra Nevada encountered his tribe. The friendly chief rode toward them yelling, “Tro-kay!”, which is Paiute for “Everything is all right”. The unaware travelers assumed he was yelling his name. Chief Truckee later served as a guide for John C. Frémont.
Winters are chilly with regular snowfall, while summers are warm to hot and dry, with occasional periods of intense thunderstorms.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
From King's Beach in Lake Tahoe, SR 267 heads north into Truckee.
While easy to approach under clear conditions, travelers should pay close attention to inclement weather during the winter. Roads in and out of Truckee can rapidly become treacherous during heavy winter storms. Donner Pass (over 7,000 ft/2,100 m elevation) in particular should not be attempted during heavy storms without strong winter driving skills and chains or 4-wheel drive. While well-maintained and regularly plowed, the pass can live up to its infamous name under the worst conditions. If the weather becomes too harsh, "chain control" will be put into effect, allowing only cars with 4-wheel drive or chains over Donner Pass. Should the weather render the highway impassable, I-80 will close until conditions improve.
Truckee has an airport. Other than Surf Air and charter flights, it does not offer commercial scheduled flights in or out. The closest large airport is located approximately 36 mi (58 km) away in Reno, Nevada. The Sacramento International Airport is also an option, and is about 120 mi (193 km) away, on the north side of Sacramento, California. You can use the Amtrak Thruway buses that connect Truckee to Capitol Corridor trains in Sacramento.
Amtrak has one daily train to Truckee in each direction on its California Zephyr service between San Francisco (Emeryville) and Chicago. Amtrak Thruway buses connect Truckee to Capitol Corridor trains in Sacramento. 1 Truckee Station, 10065 Donner Pass Rd, is across the road from the main street.
Greyhound operates from the Amtrak rail station, going west to Sacramento and San Francisco, and east to Reno, Salt Lake City, and Denver. There are also private bus companies from the San Francisco Bay Area which bring skiers up to Truckee for day trips.
There is a free public bus, operated by neighboring Placer County, California; it connects the Truckee train station to the West Shore of Lake Tahoe, and a second goes to Incline Village, Nevada. There are also winter ski buses between Reno Airport and the ski areas near Truckee.
- Coyote Moon Golf Course, 10685 Northwoods Blvd., ☏ . May–October (weather permitting). Tee times: 5AM-6PM. Regular rate: $160. Twilight Rate: $100.
- Northstar-at-Tahoe (100 Northstar Drive), toll-free: . Downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, geocaching, ice skating, and wine tasting.
- Soar Truckee, Martis Creek Dam Rd (Truckee Tahoe Airport), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. May–October (weather permitting). $109-255.
- Niche Boutique, 10164 Donner Pass Rd, ☏ . Fun women's clothing and home furnishings.
- Tahoe Dave's, 10200 Donner Pass Rd, ☏ . Ski, snowboard, snow shoes, cross-country ski and snow clothing rentals.
- Start Haus, 10990 Donner Pass Rd, ☏ . Ski, ski boots, apparel, race gear, and a full-service ski tune and boot fitting back shop.
- 50/50 Brewing Company. Outstanding local microbrewery with a large menu and live entertainment.
- 1 Full Belly Deli, 10825 Pioneer Trail Road, Suite 103 (Pioneer Commerce Center, Donner Pass & Pioneer Trail), ☏ . 7AM-4PM. Housemade breads, huge sandwiches, fresh soup, housebaked goods, full espresso bar, local favorite
- Moody's Bistro & Lounge, 10007 Bridge St, ☏ . Pricey, but delicious sustainable food in an elegant setting.
- 2 Cottonwood Restaurant and Bar (Hilltop Lodge), 10142 Rue Hilltop (From Brockway Road, turn onto Old Brockway Road; follow signs to Cottonwood on Rue Hilltop), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 4:30-10PM. Cottonwood has been a fixture of Truckee's vibrant dining scene for 25 years. Housed in a historical ski lodge, constructed in 1928 to serve as a warming hut for the town of Truckee's ski and toboggan hill, the restaurant is a virtual museum of historic photos and artifacts. With spectacular views of downtown Truckee from the Dining Room or expansive Deck, Cottonwood has a diverse menu that consists of an eclectic menu of steaks, pastas, seafood and vegetarian dishes using fresh organic produce and sustainable meats and seafood whenever possible, complemented by a full bar and adventuresome wine list. Home to a vibrant acoustic music scene, Cottonwood features free live music every Thursday and Friday nights, and features a nightly Happy Hour until 6pm. Groups and special events are welcome.
The oldest stretch of "Downtown" Truckee (towards the east end of town) features a string of bars and is a lively scene most nights during the high season. The Truckee Police and California Highway Patrol have a zero-tolerance policy for drunk driving, and sobriety stops are not uncommon. While crime rates in the area are very low, a larger-than-expected number of locals boast a D.U.I. on their records due to this enforcement focus.
- Tahoe National Forest, 9646 Donner Pass Rd, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Truckee is at the center of the Truckee District of Tahoe National Forest which offers hiking, hunting, fishing, skiing, off-highway vehicle usage, camping, boating, and swimming. Most of these are free but permits may be required. Check with the ranger station for details.
- Tahoe City- 89 South. About 20 minutes away, without traffic.
- Reno- 80 East. About 35 minutes away with no traffic. Home to a lot of casinos.
- South Lake Tahoe- 89 South to 50 East. About 1 hour 15 minutes away with no traffic. Home to casinos at Stateline, and Heavenly Mountain Resort.
|Routes through Truckee|
|Sacramento ← Roseville ←||W E||→ Reno → Salt Lake City|
|Sacramento ← Auburn ← Jct W ←||W E||→ Reno → Salt Lake City|
|Mount Shasta ← Quincy ← Jct S N ←||N S||→ Tahoe City → Jct N S|