Tips for planning a ski trip to Lake Tahoe

Tips for planning a ski trip to Lake Tahoe – words Al Woods

Lake Tahoe with its beautiful turquoise deep water is one of the premier vacation destinations in the United States. It’s one of those unique places where you can find something for everyone. For example, if you’re looking for activities in Lake Tahoe, you’ll find that depending on the time of year you’re visiting, you might be lounging on a beach or snow skiing.

The Tahoe area is known for having more than 22,000 acres dedicated to skiing and snowboarding, which is pretty impressive

If you’re planning a Lake Tahoe ski trip specifically, you have a lot of options to the point that you might not know where to start.

The following are some things to keep in mind as far as Lake Tahoe ski resorts and overall trip planning.

Where to Stay?

Sometimes when people have never been to the Tahoe area, they don’t realize how big it is. It’s not compact, and if you want to ski in one part of Tahoe and you’re staying somewhere else, you might be driving for quite some time. Even in the summer, it can take an hour or more to go from one end of the lake to the other, and this is much harder in winter conditions.

If you like the idea of more peace and quiet, and a relaxed environment, the North Shore may be the best option for you. Other more secluded areas include the lake’s West Shore and the East Shore.

South Lake Tahoe is very commercial, and this is where most of the hotels and casinos are.

Ski Resorts

There are around nine ski resorts in Tahoe, and the most well-known are Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood. Deciding between the three isn’t likely to leave you disappointed regardless of which you go with, but they are in different areas of Tahoe.

Northstar is located in North Lake Tahoe. This option tends to be good for families as well as people who are new to skiing. It also has large terrain parks, so if you’re a snowboarder, you may find Northstar works well for you too

Heavenly is located on the California/Nevada border in South Lake Tahoe. It’s a large resort as well, and it has more advanced options than Northstar if you feel like you’re ready to take on a little more. If you’re an advanced skier, you’ll probably find Heavenly challenging enough also.

Also in South Lake Tahoe is Kirkwood, and it is smaller and not as popular as the other two, but it gets a lot more snow than most other Tahoe resorts. It also caters to different skill levels from beginner to advanced.

Timing of Your Visit

If you’re thinking about a ski trip to Lake Tahoe, you’ll have to consider the timing. Most resorts in the area are open from November to mid-April for skiing, but others have longer seasons. The resort with the longest ski season is Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows. The season here will go through spring and sometimes even into summer.

Northstar is one of the lower-elevation ski resorts in the area, so they tend to have a shorter season. Heavenly often gets the best snows in January and February each year.


If you’re not necessarily only interested in the skiing, but you want a resort that also has amenities and things to do outside of just the skis, you might think about Northstar or Squaw Valley. There are villages located at the base of these resorts where you’ll find different bars, pubs, and eateries. Heavenly is closest to the casinos, however.

If you don’t necessarily want snacks and drinks but do want something to do aside from skiing, Squaw Valley and Heavenly feature tubing and ice skating. Snowshoeing is available at Heavenly, as are UTV tours.

Finally, the names resorts above may be among the more popular, but there are other options as well. There’s Boreal Mountain Resort, which is usually among the first resorts to open because of its elevation and it offers night skiing.

Diamond Peak Ski Resort is in Incline Village, Nevada. The lake views are notable, and there are some beginner options. There’s also a lodge at the top of the mountain if you want to grab drinks apres ski.

Sugar Bowl is in Norden, California and it tends to be a good day trip. It’s affordable, but it’s somewhat isolated, so you’re not going to find a lot to keep you busy around the resort.



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