Lake Tahoe is well known as a year-round resort, but it’s in winter that the ski resorts on the edge of the lake come to life.
At an average elevation of over 6,000ft there’s never a shortage of prime snow conditions. Besides the skiing, there are other distractions such as nighttime headline acts in the casinos, amazing restaurants, champagne lake cruises and superb lake fishing. With direct flights to San Francisco from Auckland on AirNew Zealand, now is the ideal time to book your next ski vacation in the USA.
An exciting skiing and snowboarding mountain resort, Alpine Meadows has some of the most extreme terrain and best snow conditions in the region. The resort is located near Squaw Valley in Northern Lake Tahoe on the California side. There are eleven chairlifts and two surface lifts covering 2,400 acres of terrain. Alpine has a vertical drop of 550m with a top elevation of 2,633m. Although Alpine’s entire mountain could be considered one giant terrain park, the resort presents three separate ski and snowboard Terrain Parks, which are meticulously groomed and sculpted nightly. A wide variety of rails, fun-boxes, and snow features can be found in each park.
Most popular with beginners and kids is the kids’ Tiegel Terrain Park. Intermediates have fun reaching for the next level in Kangaroo Ridge Park; and advanced skiers and riders make a beeline to Shreadows Terrain Park. All terrain parks are easily accessed via Roundhouse high speed quad, Tiegel Poma and Hot Wheels Triple Chair.
T: +1 530 583 4232,
At Diamond Peak Ski Resort in Incline Village on the Nevada side, you’ll fall in love with an uncrowded mountain and incredible views of Lake Tahoe. It offers a great learning environment for beginners, as well as Solitude Canyon and other challenging terrains for experts. Families love it for the Child Ski Center and their great deals, such as the Interchangeable Parent’s Pass.
The resort has an elevation of between 2,042 and 2,600m and a vertical drop of 560m, the fourth longest at Lake Tahoe. The longest run is 4km with snowmaking on 75% of developed terrain. There are 655 acres of skiable territory serviced by six lifts offering 30 runs with a mix of open glades and tree skiing.
T: +1 775 832 1177
Situated in South Lake Tahoe on what is known as the state line, Heavenly straddles both California and Nevada depending on what ski runs you are gliding down. There’s a difference between a mountain resort and a ski area. Ski areas are more primitive and have warming huts, resorts have lodges; ski areas serve snacks and sandwiches, mountain resorts serve gourmet food. Heavenly is a mountain resort – it has the amenities and facilities to enable you to live the mountain lifestyle while having all modern amenities to hand. The resort has varied terrain that includes rolling glades, terrain parks and challenging technical steeps. As a beginner you can enjoy easy groomed runs and easy-to-load lifts and gondolas. Experts can explore the back country terrain and tree runs on the Nevada side and the adventurous can hang out at the terrain parks and perfect their backside rodeo 9s. The resort has an elevation of 3,050m, with 30 lifts; 94 runs cover some 4,800 acres. The 1,066m vertical is unmatched on the West Coast, and it enjoys an average annual snowfall of 1.1m.
T: +1 775 586 7000
Northstar at Tahoe
This is a premier year-round resort situated near the north shore of Lake Tahoe in California, approximately 320km from San Francisco. Offering skiing and snowboarding during the winter, the 3,000-acre resort features 694 vertical metres of downhill terrain accessed by 19 lifts (including eight express lifts), a snowmaking system, a cross-country center, the new Village at Northstar, on-site lodging. Summer activities including an 18-hole golf course and a lift-served mountain bike park. Ski in and ski out is a term you’ll love in America – forget lugging your boots and skis to the parking lot and driving back to your hotel – accommodation is available at the foot of the ski runs. More so than other Tahoe ski areas, Northstar is known for its tree skiing and fall lines, which also make for more sheltered runs during storm conditions, with deep powder. On the other hand, it doesn’t have the steep slopes like Squaw Valley or Alpine Meadows. It tends to attract a large crowd of family skiers.
T: +1 530 562 1010
Since its opening in 1949, Squaw Valley has positioned itself among an “A-list” of North American big mountain ski areas. The Ski Resort in Olympic Valley, on the California side of Lake Tahoe, is one of the largest ski areas in the United States, and was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. It’s the second-largest ski area at Lake Tahoe after Heavenly, with advanced chairlifts that include high speed quads and high speed six packs. The resortnowadays attracts over 600,000 skiers a year. Perched atop the Sierra Nevada, with a base of 1,900m and spread across six peaks and 4,000 acres, the resort tops out at 2,760m above sea level at Granite Chief. The area receives bountiful maritime snowfall, often getting 12m or more in a winter, leading to snowpack depth of 5.1m over steep, granite-laden terrain. The resort operates year-round, offering various activities in both winter and summer, including an ice skating rink, a swimming lake and spa.
T: +1 530 583 6955
Tahoe Trivia: Lake Tahoe is located 1,896m above sea level on 193 square miles.
The lake is 35.5km long and 19km wide.
If Lake Tahoe was tipped over, its contents would cover california in nearly 40cm of water.
Tahoe could provide every person in the United States with 190 litres of water per day for 5 years.
The sun shines an average of 274 days each year.
Mountain elevations can receive an average of 7-13m of snow annually.
Accommodation: the beauty of skiing any of the resorts around Lake Tahoe is you’re spoilt for choice on a range of accommodation options and packages, from budget motels and hotels to luxury retreats, family condominiums, 3-6 bedroom mountain homes or high-rolling casino suites. Families will love all the activities to choose from over and above skiing.
3 Ways to Save on Lift Tickets:
1. Buy online, especially in advance of your arrival. You’ll save money as well as sometimes getting added perks;
2. consider buying a multi day ski pass if you plan on skiing more than 6 days – this will reduce the daily rate;
3. Purchase lift tickets as part of a lift & lodging vacation package before you leave home
Getting there: Air New Zealand flies to San Francisco, w: airnewzealand.com