Best Ski Resorts & Top things to do at Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe both Nevada and California is a world-renowned attraction for its great mixture of terrains, scenery, resorts, nightlife, and quality of snow.
Tourists from all over the world travel to Tahoe every year to experience skiing, snowboarding, and backcountry skiing and shoeing for themselves… Tahoe boasts that not many are disappointed.
With 7 resorts to choose from, casino’s and gambling on the Nevada side, and outlets, shopping and fine dining on the California side, South Lake Tahoe, paired with the beautiful scenery in absolutely every direction, it is pretty hard for any vacationer to lose.
Heavenly Ski Resort
One of the most highly regarded resorts is Heavenly Resort who claims to be “Lake Tahoe’s premier winter playground.”
Heavenly is the largest resort in California but is bordering Nevada and Lake Tahoe making the possibilities for fun threefold.
Heavenly boasts the not only the largest vertical drop in California (3,500 feet) but also the owner of Lake Tahoe’s tallest summit (10,067).
The mountain, at Heavenly, has 95 different and diverse trails that cover all levels of skiing ability and thrill-seeking with access from their 30 lifts, nine of which are high speed.
Heavenly is also the proud owner of the West Coast’s most powerful snowmaking system ensuring that there will always be enough snow, no matter what Mother Nature has to say!
The resort also offers a wide array of skiing schools, clinics, and services to make your day perfect. You can take private or group lessons, clinics specifically geared towards women’s adventure or a host of classes specifically aimed at problem areas.
They also have on-site daycare, tours, photo and shuttle services, and an area to check your Skis or Snowboard while you enjoy other parts of the mountain.
Heavenly also has great tree runs for snowboarders and has a reputation for being a very boarder friendly resort.
There is not lodging on-site at Heavenly, but they have worked hard to make sure that your stay at Lake Tahoe can be the best vacation ever.
With this goal in mind, they have worked to develop relationships with Hotels, Motels, Condos and Bed and Breakfasts in the area and have special “Heavenly” rates when you select a “Preferred Property.”
Prices range from $49 to $200+ a night depending on the number of rooms and dates of stay.
Lift tickets to Heavenly vary in price depending on length and time you will be skiing; however, they offer discount plans if tickets are purchased online ahead of time.
Prices begin at $136 for the 2018- 2019 and vary from there, but not exceeding $272 for a 2-day pass during the Christmas season. They also have teen and children lift ticket rates. In addition, they also offer lift ticket for longer stays 7 to 10 days.
If looking to enjoy some of the most unique runs and chutes while visiting Lake Tahoe, skiing or snowboarding Heavenly is a must on your to-do list!
The NorthStar California Ski resort
The NorthStar resort at Tahoe is a unique experience in ski resorts. It is one of the most fascinating places to visit in California.
It has a village full of restaurants, stores, ice rink, as well as the home of a great run for beginners or for pros to warm up on!
Along with the Village Run, Northstar has six other attractions to chose from. Mt. Pluto is one of their most family-friendly areas.
It has many well groomed, moderately pitched runs. For those looking for something just a little harder than Mt Pluto, the Northstar Northwest Territory is perfect.
Aimed at intermediate skiers and is ideal for refining your technical skills, training for harder runs, or racing.
The Backside is prime skiing for moderate to advanced skiers and offers seven different mile long runs as well as acres of tree skiing.
Lookout Mountain is one of Northstar’s local hotspots. Known for its steep inclines and bump runs is a challenge even for experienced skiers. If you are looking for a challenge, this is the place.
Terrain Park is considered one of the “top ten best Terrain parks in North America.” It offers all sizes and skill levels within its 45 rails, boes, 50 jumps and jibs.
There is also a 420 foot Super Pipe for snowboarders to enjoy! Another great feature at Northstar at Tahoe is their X-Country and Snowshoeing area.
Over 24 miles of are open for snowshoeing, tracking, or skate-skiing in a safe, well-groomed environment, away from all the hustle and bustle of the higher paced runs.
If you come to Northstar as your first skiing experience, you are in luck they offer many skiing and snowboarding classes for adults, children, and women only classes.
Lift tickets at Northstar vary from $28 to $68 dollars for a single day pass (children/senior to adult). There are discounts for multi-day passes and different pricing schedules for holidays.
Northstar also has a great selection of lodging from
- the Northstar Village rooms, to
- Northstar Condos, to
- Northstar Mountain Homes, and
- the new Northstar Village Condo’s
that vary in price and number of rooms from 1 room lofts for $139 a night to deluxe housing packages with 6 rooms, 4 bathrooms for $1800 a night.
All in all, Northstar at Tahoe is centered around having everything a family needs for a great ski vacation.
Mt. Rose ski resort boasts Tahoe’s highest elevation point at 8,260 feet and being the closest to Reno, Nevada, the nearest airport to Lake Tahoe.
Mt. Rose offers 1,200 acres of powder and the new Chutes has added over 200 acres of steep, 1500 feet of vertical drop at 40-55 degrees, for the experienced skiers’ enjoyment.
There are four gates, or entrances to the Chutes that can be accessed by the normal Zephyr lift chair, or by the express Chuter Chair.
Mt. Rose also has a well-rounded array of skiing options, with over 60 runs, beginner and intermediate runs as well as advanced and expert runs. The longest run is two and a half miles long.
Offering day and half day lift tickets from $68 to $42, Mt. Rose is an inexpensive option for those that may be in Reno or Tahoe for other reasons and just have a day to ski.
There are no lodging accommodations located on Mt. Rose, but the short half hour drive to Reno make the options of lodging, gambling, night clubs, and entertainment when you are not on the slopes very diverse and accessible.
Room rates and vacation packages are usually less expensive in Reno than in Lake Tahoe, Mt. Rose gives the budget conscious vacationer a great option!
Kirkwood Resort offers the intermediate skier the most options on the more than 65 trails, over 50%. They also offer beginning, advanced and expert choices on their 2,300 acres of skiable terrain.
One of the most distinctive things about the Kirwood Resort is the many unique and interesting classes and tours.
They have a backcountry guided tour, a snowboarding tour, several different skiing tours, as well as classes and clinics for skiers and boarders of all ages.
They have safety clinics and take avalanche safety and teaching skiers about it very seriously.
They also offer several different types of their Kirkwood: Expeditions series with such tours as the Powder Cat tour or an avalanche tour.
They also offer Kirkwood: Expedition tours geared to children and teens, giving them a supervised, educational activity to participate in while their parents are enjoying the runs.
The prices for these tours and classes depend on the length and complexity of the tour, but start at $100 and go clear up to thousands for the overnight expeditions. The daily lift tickets are $15 for children and seniors to $69 for a full day adult.
Lodging at Kirkwood can happen on site. They have several different options of small studio rooms, to spacious condos with three plus bedrooms.
Most of the accommodations come with WiFi, TV, VCR, DVD, and cable in the room.
Many have fireplaces, kitchens, Jacuzzi tubs, and feature hot tubs, recreational rooms, on the property as well as options for covered parking and covered swimming pools.
There are 10 different locations to stay at while visiting Kirkwood:
- Meadowstone Lodge,
- The Lodge at Kirkwood,
- Lost Cabin, Snowcrest Lodge,
- The Mountain Club, The Sentinels,
- Kirkwood Towers,
- Sun Meadows,
- The Meadows, and
- Base Camp
all offering different price and luxury accommodations.
Prices at these locations depend on the time of year and availability, viewing options at their website is probably the best option.
The Sierra at Tahoe Resort
The Sierra at Tahoe Resort is situated farther away from the lake than most of the other Tahoe resorts, and this allows the California skier from San Francisco or Sacramento a shorter commute.
Sierra at Tahoe also prides themselves on being a family resort and have tubing, sledding, snowshoeing, and family tours, and lessons to encourage parents to bring their kids along for the fun.
Even the shape of the resort is family friends, the oval shape allows family members of different skill sets to go on the runs that they enjoy, and meet back in the middle easily.
There are six parks for everyone to choose from,
- The Alley, Bashful, Broadway,
- The Circuit, Smokey, and
- Upper Main.
Smokey park is probably one of the favorites at Sierra at Tahoe, located in the rear, the Smokey area is designating for racing and training.
It has diverse terrain making it fun at high or low speeds and for people of all skill levels.
For the adrenaline junkies, Bashful Park is the place to be, it features a vertical pitch all the way down and the ability to hit five jumps in a row, there is also a 12-foot wall ride and a line of jibs making this a great place for the advanced to expert skiers.
The Broadway is a great place for the more advanced beginners to moderate skiers to start and getting a little bit fancy, it has 10 to 20 feet rails, small jump, tables, and boxes to help them see what the “rush” of skiing is all about!
Lift tickets are $65 dollars for adults on a one day pass and $68 for Holidays.
They also offer children and senior passes from $16. Sierra at Tahoe also has a “Parent Predicament Tickets” which allow parents to use the same pass back and forth while one parent stays with the younger kids, the other can go up the lift, then they can switch off.
This is a great feature for those skiers with small children!
One of the drawbacks to this resort is there are not any lodging accommodations available, but this could be a great place for a day trip.
Alpine Meadows is proud of their 2,400 acres of patrolled, skiable terrain. It has over 100 runs that encompass all skill levels.
They offer many different skiing and snowboarding classes and not just the basics, but private out of bound tours and beginner classes that teach using the Direct-To-Parallel program.
They also have an on-mountain restaurant and snack bar and an indoor children’s play area.
Lift tickets to Alpine are $58 for an adult full day or $63 for holiday.
Child, senior and teen tickets start at $10 through $49. Alpine Meadows also offers discounts for multiple day lift packages.
Although there aren’t any lodging accommodations at Alpine Meadows, they have several package deals with Reno and Tahoe hotels, resorts, and casinos making the options of visiting Alpine more accessible.
They also have shuttles from certain hotels and the parking areas.
Squaw Valley Resort
Squaw Valley, USA is one of the larges Tahoe resorts having over 4,000 acres of terrain. Over “70% of the mountain’s terrain” is for the beginner and moderate skier and/or snowboarder.
This is a huge amount of space for someone to explore. They have all sorts of terrain parks with half-pipes, jumps, and rails.
They also have racing services. Squaw Valley offers classes in skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, night skiing, and everything in between.
Having held the 2006 winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, there are also lots of historical and site seeing to be done.
High Camp has an ice rink, a fine dining restaurant, and shops to explore, not to mention a cable car ride that gets you there!
Squaw also has a swimming lagoon and spa, snow tubing, dog sledding rides, and a climbing wall. If skiing or boarding is not your thing, there are plenty of other options when you visit Squaw Valley.
The lift tickets at Squaw Valley, USA are $73 dollars for an adult day pass, however, they offer great mid-week and multiple day discounts.