Ultimate Guide To Skiing In Tahoe

Written by Alexa Owen • Feb 03, 2016

You won’t be a seasoned North American skier without exploring Tahoe.

The area is famous for its role in skiing’s history, high concentration of mountains situated around the picturesque Lake Tahoe, and its epic snow and abundant sunshine. Tahoe skiing heritage dates back to the early 1900s, when small ski resorts like Granlibakken and Mt. Rose opened their slopes to Reno and Tahoe City locals. Squaw Valley hosted the 1960s Winter Olympics – the first ever to be televised – putting skiing on the map as a recreational activity for the American masses.

Skiing legends Scott Schmidt and Shane McConkey skied some of the most infamous lines in extreme skiing at Tahoe resorts. Film production companies flock there for perfect shots of sun and pow. To this day, Tahoe natives continue to podium at skiing and snowboarding events around the world, and they’re all likely to tell you the same thing: there is nothing quite like the paradise of Tahoe anywhere else in the world.

On the border of California and Nevada span 22,000 acres of pristine skiing and snowboarding adventures. The nine major resorts that surround picturesque Lake Tahoe each have their own flair, offering terrain and culture for all sorts of ski vacations. Wine and dine in luxury at Squaw Valley, shred 55 degree steeps at Mt. Rose, or enjoy long cruisers and a hip foodie scene at Heavenly – wherever you go in Tahoe, you’ll find your ski vacation paradise.

This guide is a comprehensive look at what Tahoe has to offer you on your next ski vacation. We’ll let you in on where to ski the best lines; how to let loose in Tahoe’s infamous party scene; where to hike, shop, and dine; and not-to-miss activities for your Tahoe ski vacation. Like we said, everyone can find their true love of a ski vacation in Tahoe – and we’re thrilled to play matchmaker. Read on for everything you need to know about skiing in Tahoe.

Getting There

Most Tahoe resorts are within 1-hours drive of Reno-Tahoe International Airport (which means you can arrive late morning and be skiing by midday). The airport boasts over 100 flights per day from 18 non-stop destinations, including New York, Los Angeles, and smaller airports like Orange County and Boise. Heads up: direct flights from New York just bottomed out at $254 round trip!

As an incentive to vacation in Tahoe, several resorts – Squaw Valley, Kirkwood, Heavenly and Mt. Rose, to name a few – offer a free lift ticket to ski on the day you fly in. Just remember to hang on to your boarding pass.

You can rent a car at the airport, or take one of the convenient shuttles that stop at several resorts and lodging areas around Tahoe. The North Lake Tahoe Express services resort areas between Diamond Peak and Homewood; the South Tahoe Airporter stops at MontBleu, Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, Harrah's, Harveys, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, and Lakeside Inn. Taxi and limousine services are available on demand.

Exploring Reno

It’s no secret that Reno is the Biggest Little City destination for gambling, so if you’d like to try your luck at the slots or the card tables, by all means – this is the place to do it! Step into the decades-old gambling scene at Harrah’s or the Eldorado, both open 24 hours with free entry and a broad spread of casino games.

If you’re looking for ways to enjoy Reno without taking a gamble, you’re in luck. Enjoy elegant shopping and dining without the intimidation of a big city, as well as cultural outings.

The National Automobile Museum is a favorite for car geeks and history buffs. Head to the University of Nevada campus for a visit to the Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center for an enlightening experience with kids. Catch a concert at the Reno Events Center before hitting the casinos.

Reno Dining

Reno boasts fine international cuisine, classic American grub, and California-Mexican food made from fresh, local ingredients. Here are a few of our favorites:

Make a reservation at 4th St. Bistro for the ultimate fine dining experience; chef Natalie Sellers sources from local, organic, sustainable farms for exquisite dishes like the grilled cider brined pork tenderloin.

Take the family to Buenos Grill for Baja-inspired fish tacos and coconut shrimp; the colorfully decorated restaurant also boasts excellent margaritas.

Centro Bar & Kitchen offers small, international plates with good beer and fun cocktails in a cozy space off California Avenue.

Staying In Reno

Many Reno hotels function as full-blown resorts with casinos, which is a good option if you want easy access to gambling. For quaint, quiet stays, head to the mountains.

The Atlantis Casino Resort Spa offers beautiful rooms, ten restaurants, cabaret, casino, and high-end spa services; check their special offers page for weekly discounts.

The Peppermill Resort consistently wins Nevada’s “Best Of” awards for hotel, casino, dining and nightlife; book a Peppermill Tower suite for the ultimate splurge.

For a quality stay without the glitz, consider a reliable chain like the Hampton Inn; the modern lounges and simple, comfortable rooms are a great value for families.

Reno Nightlife

The neon-lit downtown is buzzing with music, lively bars, and the jingle of slot machies; your biggest issue will be deciding how and where you want to party – then again, you’ve got all night, so feel free to try it all.

Splurge on bottle service and all night dancing at Edge at the Peppermill Resort; for the best service, bring a lady.

Stay classy at the intimate and sleek Aura Ultra Lounge.

Don't miss 1up for drink specials and good beats in a lively, intimate space.

Ski Resorts: North Lake Tahoe

North Lake Tahoe is home to ten major ski resorts in close proximity to Truckee and Tahoe City on the California side, and Reno and Carson City across the Nevada line. This area played a central role in bringing lift-accessed skiing to the masses 80 years ago. Bigshots like Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows attract extreme skiers from across North America, but you can craft your ski vacation here to be as wild or mellow as you like.

At Reno-Tahoe International Airport, rent a car or book a shuttle for service to North Lake Tahoe resorts and hotels. The trip takes 1-1.5 hours depending on weather and number of stops. Have your camera ready if you take the scenic route along 431 -- lake views are stunning.

Squaw Valley

Squaw is the iconic king of Tahoe ski resorts, and thankfully for us, hasn’t lost its soulful charm since the resort’s beginnings over 60 years ago. Lounge in luxury, ski the most challenging terrain of the far west, and kick back with local characters over a few $2 happy hour drafts. Squaw has a well-earned reputation for rekindling the adventurous spirit in us all, so be prepared to let loose and let yourself live a little.

Cheat Sheet

Stay…at the Olympic Village Inn for fully equipped suites and mountain views.

Ski…GS Bowl into Strawberry Fields off KT-22 on a powder day.

Fine DiningSix Peaks Grille offers unparalleled views and gourmet local fare.

Cheap Eats…Stop by Fireside Pizza Company for fast, fresh pizza with the family.

Après...at Le Chamois for cheap drafts and lively conversation.

Shop...for men’s and women’s boutique clothing with laid-back style at Kalifornia Jean Bar.

Off The Slopes…tour the recently renovated Olympic Museum for a glimpse at 1960 history. 

Terrain

Squaw boasts 3,600 skiable acres, over 170 trails, 4 terrain parks and 16 bowls spanning across 6 peaks. Intermediate and advanced skiers will find the most terrain here, but the unique beginner area at the top of the mountain offers space for safe learning and natural progression to longer slopes. Annual snowfall averages 450 inches, but El Nino seasons can top out at 650+. Stunning views of surrounding peaks can be seen from almost anywhere, and when it’s not snowing, expect sunshiney California days.

Lodging

Hotels and inns dot across Olympic Valley, and most mid-range options offer comfortable rooms and great service; splurge on luxury lodging for the ultimate Squaw experience.

Luxury

The condominium suites at Squaw Valley Lodge offer all the comforts of home in an elegantly understated setting; enjoy mountain views, ski-in/ski-out luxury, and spa.

Mid-Range

Book a room at the Plumpjack Squaw Valley Inn for slopeside access and California casual luxury.

Value

The family-friendly Olympic Village Inn offers simple rooms and suites at the base of the resort.

Food

True to hip California form, Squaw Valley chefs serve up fine dishes sources from the best local and regional farms; the wine lists are some of the best you’ll see in ski country.

Book well in advance for a martini and classic American fare at the Six Peaks Grille.

Indulge in a flatiron steak and award-winning wine list at Plumpjack Café.

22 Bistro features social plates like brussels sprout fondue and kobe beef sliders, as well as creative cocktails.

Nightlife

Squaw Valley nightlife is features old-time ski bars, classy lounges, and DJs spinning for late night dance parties on weekends.

Stop by Cornice Cantina for apres ski and stay for music and dancing with cheap drinks and valley locals.

The Auld Dubliner offers a classic Irish bar scene with live music, good beer, and whiskey.

Don’t miss Rocker at Squaw on Fridays and Saturdays for DJs and dancing; big screens in the media center pay homage to Squaw ski heroes.

Shopping

The best finds are at local-run shops and boutiques offering everything from spirits to handmade jewelry, but you’ll find plenty of sportswear stores if you need some new shades or a Patagucci fix.

Fine art photographer Keoki Flagg has a gallery in the village featuring her award-winning, internationally acclaimed creative images.

The newly opened Kalifornia Jean Bar offers a stylish selection of men’s and women’s boutique clothing.

Shop the rare labels at Uncorked Wine Bar for the perfect bottle of pinot.

Activities

Squaw Valley is a haven for outdoor recreation, and the Olympic history infuses a unique cultural experience to the mix.

Head to the SnoVentures Activity Zone for tubing and mini-snowmobiling with the kids.

The Olympic Museum displays memorabilia, athlete uniforms, and historical video of the 1960s games.

Retreat to off-the-beaten-path Squaw scenery with a guided dog sled tour through Squaw Valley Meadow.

Tips

Squaw Valley and neighboring Alpine Meadows are now under the same management; enjoy both resorts with your Squaw lift ticket, and a free shuttle between the bases.

Load the tram from 3-7pm on Saturdays for night skiing, which is included in some lift ticket packages.

Northstar

Originally known as “Timber Farm” to lumber locals of Truckee, Northstar started officially spinning lifts in 1972 and has since grown to a major North American resort. The resort is renowned for its terrain parks, which regularly make Transworld Snowboarding’s annual top 10 terrain parks list. Northstar has enjoyed several makeovers over the past ten years, including a bustling new base village and a mid-mountain Ritz-Carlton, officially landing Northstar a spot in North America’s elite destination resorts.

Cheat Sheet

Stay…at the Iron Horse Lodge condos for spacious rooms a short walk from the gondola.

Ski…Prosser in the morning for the best groomer of your day.

Fine DiningTrokay in downtown Truckee rivals the best of California gourmet restaurants

Cheap Eats…Stop by Euro Crepe next to the skating rink for a hot specialty snack.

Après...at the Ritz Carlton’s lobby bar or on the slopeside terrace.

Shop...for classic clothing and accessories in casual elegance at Cabona’s.

Off The Slopes…paint your own potter and make candles at the Villager Candle Shop.

 

Terrain

Northstar’s layout is conveniently condensed -- but don’t mistake it for lacking terrain variety or acreage. The resort spans 3,100 acres of skiable terrain, much of which caters to intermediates looking to carve down sunny cruisers all day. Enjoy the serenity of Lookout Mountain’s glades on one of the many bottomless powder days. Drop the little tykes off at the Burton Academy program for young boarders. And don’t forget about the 7 specialty terrain parks, where you’ll find expertly crafted progressions for rippers of all abilities to catch big airs throw down new tricks.

Lodging

The best digs are slopeside at the resort, while value options are within walking distance of the lifts; look into private home rentals if you’re vacationing with families and friends.

Luxury

Stay slopeside at the Ritz-Carlton, whose mid-mountain location features 170 luxury rooms and a 17,000 square foot spa.

Mid-Range

The rooms at Timber Creek Lodge boast rustic charm, private decks, and ski-in/ski-out privelges.

Value

The Iron Horse Lodge offers the best value for walking distance from the slopes, and proximity to village activities.

Food

The dining scene is split between Northstar’s base village and downtown Truckee; you’ll find beautifully prepared options in either place.

For an experience of modern, creative cuisine rarely found outside major cities, dine at Trokay.

San Francisco chef Traci De Jardins prepared the seasonally-inspired menu at Manzanita inside the Ritz Carlton; request a table next to the window for slopeside views.

Mikuni at the village center offers excellent sushi and Asian fusion dishes in a hip, lively atmosphere.

Nightlife

Northstar is not famous for its nightlife, as the trend here gives itself more to early mornings and lively apres hours, followed by mellow dinners and sleep. Night owls can find plenty of fun in downtown Truckee, 6 miles away.

For a totally unique apres experience, head to Chocolate Bar, which features the best cocktails in town.

Duck into Blue Coyote Bar & Grill to watch a game on one of the many flat screen TVs.

Don’t miss Moody’s Bistro Bar & Beats, the local hotspot for lively music.

Shopping

Northstar’s base village got a facelift recently, although it’s not quite as big as neighboring Squaw. The town of Truckee complements resort shopping well.

Take the kids toAmbassador Toys, the Tahoe area’s best toy shop with handpicked games, books, and more.

Shop at Cabona’s for clothing and accessories with distinctly Western style.

Find the best shades for those sunny Tahoe days in the 001 Oakley Concept Store; they also carry footwear and gadgets.

Activities

Northstar’s family-friendly village activities are centered around outdoor fun, but stroll around the resort base and you’ll find a few surprises.

Glide around on the 9,000 square foot skating rink in the village center; it’s free for everyone, and skate rentals are available for $10-$15.

The Villager Candle Shop welcomes kids of all ages in their fully-equipped studio space for candle-making and pottery painting.

Stop by the mid-mountain Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Center for daily snowshoe rentals and tours.

Tips

Vail Resorts acquired Northstar in 2010, ushering it into the Epic family, which means you can ski Northstar on the Epic pass and pick up a distinctly Vail flair.

If you’re looking for a Tahoe resort with mellower runs suited for beginner and intermediate families, Northstar is your pick.

Sugar Bowl

Sugar Bowl might not be one of the heavy-hitters in terms of size and fan base for Tahoe resorts, but it has rich history and elegant charm on its side. Walt Disney and friends founded the resort in 1939, making it the first premier destination ski resort in the Sierra. Since then, Sugar Bowl continues to evolve while maintaining its classical roots. Weekend warriors from Sacramento and San Francisco flock to the area for steep thrills, and ski vacationers trek to Sugar Bowl for a true getaway at the no-frills resort.

Cheat Sheet

Stay…at the Clair Tappaan Lodge, a homestyle lodge nestled in Donner Pass.

Ski…the groomers off Mt. Disney for pristine morning corduroy and no crowds.

Fine Dining…For an elevated dinner and atmosphere, visit The Dining Room at the Village Lodge.

Cheap Eats…Grab a coffee and massive breakfast burrito at Judah’s Sierra Vista Bar & Grill.

Après...at the Belt Room Bar for cool drafts or a warming glass of merlot with mountain views.

Shop...for all your gear and outdoor clothing needs at Mt. Judah Ski & Sports.

Off The Slopes…take a trip to Royal Gorge for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

 

Terrain

Sugar Bowl is compact across its 1,650 skiable acres, nearly 40% of which is marked as advanced terrain. There are 4 peaks that wrap around the base areas forming a catcher’s mitt that loves to collect snow from storms blowing into the Sierra. The Palisades are some of the steepest chutes in the Tahoe area, and don’t miss Strawberry Fields on a powder day. Knob Hill is the best area to ski with the family.

Lodging

Lodging options are limited as Sugar Bowl is considerably less resort-like than most Tahoe ski areas; those that are available offer homey elegance and super friendly staff.

Luxury

Enjoy old-world charm and cozy rooms at The Lodge, which sits at the center of Sugar Bowl’s quaint snowbound village.

Mid-Range

Donner Lake Village offers modern rooms with lake views about 5 miles from Sugar Bowl.

Value

The Clair Tappaan Lodge was built by Sierra Club volunteers in the early 1930s, and offers comfortable rustic rooms and huts at bargain prices.

Food

Sugar Bowl dining options revolve around the resort; most are casual and family-friendly, with a select few that offer a fine dining experience.

The Dining Room at The Lodge boasts new American and French inspired dishes with excellent wine pairings.

Fuel up with BBQ and a beer at Palisades Bar, which overlooks Mt. Disney from its outdoor deck.

The Belt Room Bar offers good drinks and classic bar food in an historic skier setting.

 

Nightlife

Sugar Bowl is not a destination resort for nightlife; apres hour is by far the most lively in the party scene (if you can call it that).

Drop into the Sierra Vista Bar for cheap drinks with laid-back locals.

Sip on wine by the glass with mountain views at the Belt Room Bar.

Craft your own party and settle in with friends at one of the plush vacation home rentals in the village.

Shopping

You won’t be doing much shopping at Sugar Bowl, and it’s best to arrive with all your essentials. If you do need gear or warm layers, stop by Mt. Judah Ski & Sports. There’s also a rental shop next door if you don’t bring gear from home.

Activities

Activities are largely family-centered and casual; the area of Donner Summit boasts pristine cross-country tracks.

Royal Gorge, America’s largest cross-country resort, was recently acquired by Sugar Bowl, and offers 200km of groomed XC trails.

Donner Summit offers space to explore on snowshoes.

Drop into a yoga class at the Sporthaus, the Village’s newest fitness facility.

Tips

Sugar Bowl’s snowbound village is the only one in the country, and accessible only by a gondola that runs 24/7 from the modern base area.

Midweek ski and stay packages offer the best deals; consider these if you’re on a tighter budget.

Ski Resorts: South Lake Tahoe

By the numbers, South Lake Tahoe is home to fewer resorts than the lake’s northern half, but what it lacks in those numbers the area makes up for in rugged terrain, world-class accommodation, and a foodie scene to rival northwest cities like Portland and San Francisco. The South’s major resorts average between 350-450 inches of snowfall per season and plenty of vitamin D rich sunshine. This is the place to get the deepest pow days of your life, and a killer goggle tan to boot.

From Reno-Tahoe International Airport, rent a car or book a shuttle; the trip is about 2 hours. Charter buses from Sacramento and the Bay Area run on weekends – 2.5 hours and 3.5 hours, respectively.

Heavenly

Heavenly invites its skiers into a rare experience of non-dueling opposites in one place. Hit the casinos all night, ski fresh pow lines all day. Get lost in the neon lights and lively parties, find yourself in the serene isolation of the backcountry. The mountain itself is split across the California/Nevada state line. Heavenly’s name can speak for itself, but we’ve still got a lot to offer on how exactly to navigate its truly unique opportunities.

Cheat Sheet

Stay…at the Alder Inn for value rooms halfway between the resort and casinos.

Ski…Gunbarrel for 1,700 vertical feet of annihilating moguls.

Fine Dining…Surprise yourself with hearty yet elegant entrees at Evans American Gourmet Café.

Cheap Eats…Get a taste of authentic Mexico with one of Taqueria Jalisco’s famous burritos.

Après...at Fire + Ice, Heavenly’s all-time classic ski bar.

Shop...for western inspired home décor and clothing at High Chaparral.

Off The Slopes…try your luck at Harveys, South Lake Tahoe’s first ever hotel-casino.

Terrain

Heavenly has it all: 3 peaks of 4,800 skiable acres, with access gates to incredible backcountry and 29 inbounds lifts to get you where you want to go. Heavenly’s loyal customers return year after year for the resort’s sheer size and varied terrain. Cruise through open tree fields, rip down pristine groomers, and huck off as many rock faces as you dare. Unobstructed views of Lake Tahoe seal the deal.

Lodging

South Lake Tahoe offers a wide range of lodging options, and is a surprisingly good place to be on a budget (if you don’t gamble it away).

Luxury

Splurge for a lake view room with plush comforters and cozy fireplace at The Landing, a fully serviced, family-owned luxury boutique hotel 3 blocks from casinos and gondola.

Mid-Range

Inn By The Lake offers comfortable accommodation, pool, fitness center, and complementary 10 minute shuttle to the lifts.

Value

Fully renovated in 2011, the classic 1970s Alder Inn is an excellent option for clean, simple budget stay.

Food

The dining scene around Heavenly is inspired by California roots of clean, healthy, organic eating; indulge in burgers and fries if need be, but be sure to try take your chances with locally sourced, health-minded fare.

Evans American Gourmet Café boasts fresh meats and seafood garnished with local veggies and finely crafted sauces; don’t let the exterior of the place fool you – Evans is the place to dine in South Lake Tahoe.

Dine at Kalani’s for a unique taste of Pacific Rim cuisine; their Puka Lounge has fruity cocktails and delectable small plates.

Opt for authentic Italian fare at Scusa, Tahoe’s premier Italian restaurant; the wine list features regional and Italian favorites.

Nightlife

Heavenly’s nightlife motto is go all in, and it refers to more than just the poker tables. If you’re keen on a party oasis for your Tahoe ski vacation, you’ve found your spot.

Do not miss the Unbuckle Apres Party, hosted by Tamarack for DJ, dancers, discounted drinks, and high-end debauchery; consider yourself warned.

Check the live music schedule at Vinyl, the Hard Rock Hotel’s intimate venue for acclaimed singer songwriters.

Step into the Vegas nightclub scene at Blu, inside the Montbleu Hotel and Casino; drink specials, sideshows, and quality music acts make this the prime club destination in the area.

Shopping

Sporting goods, art, lifestyle apparel and eclectic gifts – you can fine it all in South Lake Tahoe.

Don’t miss Pro Rava Gem Company, a jewelry and art gallery featuring work from around the world, as well as local photography and sculptures.

High Chapparal Western Wear will special order home décor and clothing with distinct western flair, or browse around their in-store collection of goods.

Let your kids tag along with you to Del Sol, which specializes in clothing and accessories that light up when exposed to UV rays. 

Activities

There’s no shortage of casinos and shows in this (super) mini Vegas; live it up at the casinos or keep it mellow with arts and music shows or outdoor activities.

Dress up in authentic western costumes and snap quirky throwback photos at Old Time Photo.

Skate under the lights at the Heavenly Ice Rink and glide around to music and discounted prices for the last hour of the day.

Play the slots or tables at Harveys, the area’s first hotel-casino.

Tips

Heavenly offers specialized guides to group events like destination bachelor parties; see their website for details.

Snowboarders, beware of long, flat traverses required to get back to the main mountain after side-hugging tree runs.

Kirkwood

Kirkwood is all about old-school charm. The resort is chock full of some of the best skiers in Tahoe, but you’ll never hear them talk about it. Kirkwood boasts something they call the K-Factor: a geographical predisposition on the Pacific Crest to receive the lightest, most abundant snowfall in the Tahoe region. The resort is a big mountain in a small town, with raw, unadulterated terrain and a no-fuss, tight-knit community. Kirkwood is 35 miles south-west of South Lake Tahoe – ideal for those looking to get away from the lights and noise of that casino-clad city.

Cheat Sheet:

Stay…at Kirkwood Towers – simple, privately owned condos within walking distance to lifts.

Ski…Notch Chute in Wagon Wheel Bowl for knee-shaking steeps.

Fine Dining…Reservations are required at The Wall, Kirkwood’s premiere fine dining restaurant.

Cheap Eats…Swing by Monte Wolfe’s in the village for hot breakfast or sandwich lunch.

Après...at the historic Kirkwood Inn for happy hour food specials and $2 drafts.

Shop...for gear and custom-fit boot insoles at Kirkwood Mountain Sports.

Off The Slopes…catch some competitive entertainment at one of Kirkwood’s annual events, like the Banked Slalom in April.

Terrain

Kirkwood’s terrain resembles that of hardcore resorts like Jackson Hole and Alta – there’s just not as much of it. The 2,300 acres span across 86 trails, and the mountain has a distinct difference in aspect between upper and lower half. The faces off the ridge line are super steep, while the beginner area at the base is perfect for first time skiers. Intermediates might not find enough to keep them interested for more than a few days – more incentive to take some lessons and up your game!

Lodging

The theme at Kirkwood is slopeside condos, most of which are within 100 meter walking distance to lifts. Kirkwood Resort Lodging manages the vast majority of rentals.

Luxury

Rent a slopeside, fully equipped luxury condo or townhouse at Snowcrest Lodge, located at Palisades.

Mid-Range

Outfitted with underground parking and slopeside views, The Lodge At Kirkwood offers one and two bedroom condos for just less than luxury tier options.

Value

Kirkwood Towers is the most popular place to book; the condos are small, but they offer easy access to the slopes at competitive prices.

Food

Off-mountain dining doesn’t boast many options, and the most popular place for dinner might be a home-cooked meal in your condo kitchen – but here are a few ideas:

Book a table at The Wall for pacific rim cuisine and local wines in an intimate, slopeside space.

The Kirkwood Inn & Saloon is a 150 years old operation offering classic western fare.

Families and sports enthusiasts can grab an après beer or early dinner at The Cornice Grill, located across from the Cornice Express lift.

Nightlife

The local bars scattered around Kirkwood’s base are ideal for cold beers and warm conversation; if you’re looking for more, consider spending a night in South Lake Tahoe.

Sit on the sunny deck of 7800 Bar & Grill, then move inside for a drink next to the roaring fireplace; this spot is a local favorite, and drink prices are generally lower than resort-owned spots.

Consider a pre-dinner drink at The Wall if you don’t want to pay fine dining prices for a full-on dinner.

The Kirkwood Inn is a classic spot to wind down with a beer in fine western style.

Shopping

The shopping at Kirkwood is limited, and if you’re looking for anything besides ski gear and clothes, you’ll have to take a trip into nearby South Lake Tahoe.

Kirkwood Mountain Sports has custom footbed fitting services, and the friendly staff will take care of all your other ski gear needs.

The General Store in Red Cliffs Lodge stocks basic (and pricey) grocery needs.

Activities

Kirkwood’s main attractions are the events that come through on weekends throughout the season; as for other outdoor pursuits, grab a sled or your snowshoes and hit the hill.

The Rahlves’ Banzai Tour on the last weekend in February is a not-to-be-missed big mountain/border cross race.

In first weekend of April, Kirkwood hosts a banked slalom where Tahoe locals throw themselves down a set course in a drainage ditch.

Tips

If you’re heading to Kirkwood for a weekend or more, bring your own groceries, as there aren’t any fully-fledged markets at the mountain.

Kirkwood’s infrastructure runs well, but it’s more old school than other big Tahoe resorts; take your time to ski the whole mountain – you’ve got plenty of it.

Honorable Mentions

Homewood

Located on the northwestern shore of Lake Tahoe, Homewood sits pretty in a land of its own, and despite recent development in the past four years, the nostalgia for old-time ski culture long gone from major North American resorts remains. Just over 2,000 acres and 2,500 feet vertical serve up powder stashes and wide-open cruisers to locals and vacationers alike. The resort recently debuted Snowcat Adventures to service the backcountry terrain off Ellis Peak. Nearby Tahoe City boasts lively shopping and dining options.

Stay…slopeside at the West Shore Café in one of five luxury suites or a mountain villa.

Ski…The Glades for one of the most playful and picturesque runs in Tahoe.

Fine Dining…Wolfdale’s in Tahoe City offers contemporary American fare from fresh, sustainable ingredients.

Cheap EatsTahoma Market makes massive sandwiches to fuel you for the whole day.

Après...at the Fireplace Tavern for good beers and a lighthearted local vibe.

Shop...at North Tahoe Arts for local work in a creative downtown gallery.

Off The Slopes…explore the Treetop Adventure Park for zip lining and an adventure ropes course in Tahoe City.

Mt. Rose

Originally staking its claim in the Tahoe area long before lifts were spinning or a highway from Reno was installed,Mt. Rose boasts a rich history of local ski lore. Just 22 minutes from the Reno airport, you can see the mountain from Reno’s downtown casinos, and it serves as the perfect destination for a day trip from the city. At 1,200 acres, Mt. Rose is small but mighty; intermediates and experts can enjoy nonstop laps on either of the two high-speed six-pack lifts, and beginners will find the easy terrain interesting and unintimidating. The mountain’s claim to fame is it’s base elevation of 8,260 feet – the highest of any resort base in Tahoe.

Stay…in downtown Reno or a luxury rental home in Incline Village.

Ski…Lakeview for a mellow run with beautiful view.

Fine Dining…The open kitchen and alpine décor of Lone Eagle Grill complements a menu of classic American West cuisine.

Cheap EatsView BBQ on the lodge’s sundeck is a go-to for a value lunch.

Après...at the Sky Bar in the Slide Lodge.

Shop...in downtown Reno for eclectic, thrifty clothes and gifts.

Off The Slopes…head out for a game of bumper bowling at Bowl Incline.

Sierra-at-Tahoe

Tree skiing is the name of the game at Sierra-at-Tahoe, and budget-conscious locals flock to the no-frills hill for demanding South Shore terrain. Of the 2,000 acres, 75% of terrain is marked for intermediates or experts, and 5 gates offer access to Huckleberry Canyon backcountry. There are 4 Adventure Zones for kids and a lift-accessed tubing hill. As for off-slopes entertainment, you won’t find much, which is part of the reason crowds don’t consider this a destination resort. It’s worth a day trip (or two) from South Lake Tahoe.

Stay…at the ultra-friendly Fireside Lodge, which offers complementary snowshoes, sledding and Netflix.

Ski…Sugar N’ Spice top to bottom for an easy cruiser with little ones.

Fine Dining…Venture 30 minutes down the road to Ciera Steak + Chophouse for upscale western fare.

Cheap Eats…Grab a Tijuana Dog and Adirondack chair on the sunny deck of Baja Grill.

Après...at the new Corkscrew Bar, which features signature drinks and organic spirits.

Shop...in downtown South Lake Tahoe for boutique clothing and artsy gifts.

Off The Slopes…take the family to Blizzard Mountain for tubing and other snowy fun.

If you haven’t already heard, Tahoe is experiencing an historic El Nino season, with over 25 feet and counting blowing in since the season’s start. If you’re ready to book your ideal Tahoe ski vacation, we can help you get started here!