Lake Tahoe Ski Area Information
Lake Tahoe is known for its world class skiing. Whether you are skiing with children, prefer cross country trails that allow dogs, or enjoy mountain and downhill skiing, Lake Tahoe offers it all. Below you will find information about the various ski resorts and trails so you can find the perfect ambiance that matches your skill level.
Lake Tahoe Downhill Ski Areas
Squaw Valley USA
Squaw Valley was the home of the 1960 Winter Olympics, and this resort offers world-class skiing centered around a quaint European-style village. You will find 3,600 acres of skiable terrain with hills that will suit all levels, from beginner to advanced. There is an upper and lower mountain with the best ski run that allows you to ski from the top to the bottom. You can enjoy the hot tub, pool and cabana bar at High Camp. A gondola can take you there if you are not a skier and you will even find a skating rink at the top. Several restaurants can be found throughout the mountain, from a charming mountain chalet to an indoor restaurant with incredible views. Squaw valley has 29 ski lifts and over 170 trails. A few of my favorites are Emigrant and Shirley at the top. The longest run from top to the bottom of the mountain is 3.2 miles! If you are an advanced skier, you will want to start with KT22 at the bottom and head up to Granite Chief at the top, skiing Headwall mid mountain. Beginners will enjoy Big Blue, Gold Coast and Mountain Meadow. After a day of skiing, there are many great places in the village below to enjoy drinks and dinner.
Alpine Meadows (The Local's Favorite)
Alpine Meadows Ski Resort is the local’s favorite and retains a certain charm from the old days of Lake Tahoe. You can go to both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows on the same lift ticket, using a shuttle service to get back and forth. My favorite run at Alpine Meadows is Sherwood, which is located at the back side of the mountain. Mid mountain, you will find an adorable ski chalet where you can grab a bite before jumping on the Scott chair to get fresh tracks on the many runs that wind through the trees. Alpine Meadows boasts over 100 trails criss crossing the 2,400 acres of a breathtaking mountain. You could spend an entire day skiing just to hit every run. To the south side of the lodge, you will find many beginner runs that are relatively flat. The foot of the mountain has a great deck for apres ski drinks and food. Hands down, accessing both mountains on one lift ticket makes this your best choice for downhill skiing in Lake Tahoe.
Northstar is known for its park-style skiing that has a family friendly village at its center. The village center at Northstar is also a great place to ice skate. There are many retail shops and restaurants in the village and children will especially love hanging around the fire pit and toasting s’mores. Skiers and boarders will enjoy the way the trails wind through the trees. Northstar also has the easiest access from Hwy 80 compared to other resorts. The Ritz Carlton nearby and it’s five start restaurants present the perfect apres ski place to share ski stories with friends. Northstar has 100 trails on 3,170 acres. Whether you are advanced or just a beginner, you will find a diversity of ski terrains. One other feature is the Snowboarding Terrain Parks which has The Straits allowing for jumps or Pinball for jibs for the expert along with more leisurely trails for the intermediate and beginner skier. There is always some type of activity or entertainment at the village below and families especially, will enjoy this ski resort.
Lake Tahoe Family Ski Areas
While the following ski areas are great for all ski levels, they are especially suitable for beginners or children. These ski areas are also some of the older areas and retain the charm of the early days of skiing at Lake Tahoe.
Homewood Mountain Resort is perfect if you are a beginner or skiing with small children. The views are spectacular and this ski hill is literally right on the lake. The mountain is smaller than other resorts, but the runs are incredibly ego-gratifying with breathtaking views. The elevation gain is steep once you ride the chair to the top of the mountain. One of my favorite runs is the 2 mile Rainbow Ridge which winds around the mountain with views of the lake you will not find at any other ski resort. Homewood offers after skiing complimentary s’mores at the West Shore Café across the street. This is available from 4:00 to 4:30 pm Fridays through Mondays through the winter.
Donner Ski Ranch is located in Norden off Highway 80. This is another excellent location for beginners with more than 500 acres of easy runs. It has a fully equipped retail shop and also offers lessons. For more advanced riders, you can find tree skiing and some steep terrain. This ski area is also not as crowded which means less time standing in line and more fun skiing! Child weekday lift tickets are $35 and adult weekday lift tickets are $89.
Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort offers a great family ski experience. This is an excellent beginner ski area and they have many ski instructors that can work one and one with you or your child. Kids as young as 3 years old can get instruction. The best part of this ski area is a kid friendly menu in their cafeteria! The terrain is uncrowded with gentle terrain and a magic carpet conveyor belt for beginners who won’t need to get on and off ski chairs. Child weekday lift tickets are $39 and adult weekday lift tickets are $69.
Lake Tahoe Cross Country Skiing
While downhill skiing is an awesome way to see the views of Lake Tahoe and feel the wind in your hair, many people enjoy cross country skiing because of the solitude. The trails allow you to travel into the forest to observe the winter wildlife and with a bit of upward climbing, you can still take in the views. All of these cross country ski areas offer easy and challenging trails. Learning to cross country ski is also the best way to begin getting the feel of having your fee in skis. Each area rents all equipment and has food available for snacks.
Located near Dollar Point off Highway 28, Tahoe Cross-Country is a community service based ski area that operates the ski areas and ensures world-class grooming. The old Ice House and reservoir sit at its center.
The trails for hiking and skiing extend through the mountains and forests on the north side of Tahoe City. The trails are flat and circular, while some trails allow for climbing in elevation to see great views of the lake.
Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center, Tahoe Donner
Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center is located in Tahoe Donner above Truckee. It offers more than 100km of world-class trails, comprised of 24% advanced, 40% intermediate and 36% novice terrain, along with four warming huts.
Trails are groomed daily for skate skiing and classic skiing, using state-of-the-art snow-grooming machines (as snowpack and conditions allow). During the winter months, the trails around Alder Creek Adventure Center down to the Euer Valley and up to Drifter/Hawk's Peak areas are closed to hiking and mountain biking. This area is maintained for cross country skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking when conditions allow. Use of this area in the winter season requires a fee.
North Tahoe Regional Park, 6600 Donner Road, Tahoe Vista, CA
The North Tahoe Regional Park is located off National Avenue just a short drive from the intersection of Highway 28 and Highway 267. This lovely park spans 124 acres and offers captivating lake views and a variety of year-round recreation activities for visitors of all ages. They allow dogs on leashes throughout the park and on the trails that climb into the mountain surrounding the park. They also have an enclosure for unleashed dogs.
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