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San Francisco to South Lake Tahoe

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  • San Francisco to South Lake Tahoe

    Just completed this round trip. With no public fueling station available beyond Sacramento on hwy 50 I was a little concerned about making the trip but the 06 Civic made it with flying colors. SLT of course decommissioned their only CNG fill station a few years back and Reno has no public access so any trip to Tahoe requires some planning now.

    After tanking up near my house (Trillium Millbrae $2.13 per GGE) I easily made the 100 mile trip to the Trillium station in West Sacramento, good fill pressure 4200 psi, $2.44 per GGE left me with 21 full bars on the Civic gas gauge. 109 miles to my cabin near Heavenly in South Lake Tahoe, 29 miles of use around town and another 109 miles back to West Sac had my odometer at 247 miles and 3 bars on the gas gauge. $11.56 and 4.74 GGE fill implied 52.1 mpg for the Sac to Tahoe portion of the trip, not bad considering the 7000 plus foot elevation change driving up to the mountains plus the in town usage.

    Note that the UPS facility next door uses the same compressor as Trillium so your pressure may drop if one of their trucks is filling up at their pump at the same time. I had to wait and get a second top off fill after only getting 2700 psi on the return leg.

    Drove conservatively but not necessarily hyper miling, just kept up with the flow of traffic and tried not to let the transmission downshift too much.

    So this trip can be done despite the lack of CNG fill stations around South Lake Tahoe. There are bailout options at the PG&E fill station on Florin Rd 8 miles closer in Sacramento and in Auburn off I80 22 miles closer but Trillium in West Sacramento seems to be the most convenient option. Just make sure you get a good fill, like I said I only had three bars at the end and an incomplete outbound fill could have had me on fumes.

    All told 447 miles total from SFO for a total trip cost of less than $20! Not bad and beats the hell out of paying $4 a gallon regular unleaded at 25 mpg in my other car or $72.

  • #2
    I never drove to South Lake Tahoe, but have used Highway 49 (slower going) to get to Auburn. If you have a PG&E card (free, but must submit updated tank inspection application), the round trip to South Lake Tahoe is 172mi (86mi versus 109mi from roadtrip report above) from the PG&E CNG station in Auburn. It adds about 20mi each way to the drive from Millbrae.


    • #3
      Bravo!!! The only trip i've tried up that way was Lathrop to Bear River Reservoir off 88. Now that I know i'll have to put the snowboard racks on the Civic!! Thanks for your knowledge.


      • #4
        Bigd123, I left my roof rack at home because I was afraid it would shave too much off my fuel efficiency. But I did spend a couple of days up there driving around Tahoe so if you’re doing just a quick up and back I’m sure it won’t be a problem. It helps that you can drive up hwy 50 at 50 or 55 mph whereas interstate 80 forces you to drive at freeway speeds uphill and wastes a lot more fuel. But definitely doable.


        • #5
          2006CivicGX Yeah thanks for the tip. I know the ski racks won't help the mpg, but usually we stay at stateline, ride Heavenly, then come back either on 50, or go 88 to kirkwood. Am now calculating the mileage, filling up in Sac, going to SLT, and taking 88 back thru KW and refilling in Lathrop. Google maps put that route at 246 miles. FYI i've got at 2012 Civic. The most mileage i've had is probably 240 of mixed city/highway around San Jose. I think it's probably do-able. If not, there's always AAA.


          • #6
            Suggest using your route in the opposite direction. Filling at the Lathrop LCNG station (CNG from LNG) seems to provide more range than a CNG station. I have documented several 180 mile runs at posted speed limits along I-5 in Oregon. I start with a full tank. Drive south and fill 4.9 gge in Medford(1382 ft elevation) at the Pilot (Clean Energy) LCNG station. Then drive back north and fill 4.2 gge at the Eugene(426 ft elevation) CNG station. So the same distance required 15 percent less LCNG.(another run was 4.9, 4.4, 11 percent). 956 ft elevation difference may explain part of the fuel use difference. But I have always figured CNG from LNG is the purest methane the GX will ever see.


            • #7
              I dont think the lng to cng will give better range.I have a friend ( yes but just 1) LOL who runs back and forth from baltimore to my house . he fills at his house (BG&E gas) and comes down and runs out about 100 miles short. when he heads home I fill him up with hot pipeline gas has some propanes heptanes and such as there are wells all around me flowing to the line and he can make it all the way home and have a few hundred lbs left as there is more heat in the other tanes than methane and the best mpg I get is straight well head gas with all the heavy's. it could be that they are not using a compressor and instead using a smash pump and a heat exchanger to make cng and you are just getting a real good high pressure fill
              Last edited by cowboy; 05-11-2019, 07:30 PM.


              • #8
                Any advise?
                Going to Reno and was wondering about the Sac Regional Transport station on Dudley? I read that I need to fill out an application? Would this be the the closest non PGE fill?
                2012 Civic
                Dudley station to hotel is 128 miles. So 256 miles, obviously going up and over 7000 of elevation. Should I do it? I usually get around 240 miles of range driving in the city around San Jose to Sunnyvale.
                I’ve got AAA just in case. And if Dudley is a PITA, is there a close ReFuel or Trillium close? I see the ReFuel on Fruitridge and the UPS in West Sac.
                Any advise for my best option?
                Btw I’ll be by myself and won’t be running the AC.