Just a short drive from San Francisco, Lake Tahoe feels like a whole world away. Located deep in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, jagged snow-capped peaks surround the emerald lake, which straddles the California and Nevada border. Graced with 300 days of sunshine each year, it was a popular ski destination with Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe in the ’60s, and more recently the Olympic snowboarder Shaun White.
There are 14 ski resorts in Lake Tahoe, which together total over 17,000 acres of skiable terrain, Lake Tahoe skiing delivers on the vastness many expect from an American ski holiday. With fantastic nightlife and a thriving 24-hour casino scene, there’s plenty to do off the slopes too. Here’s our guide to the best skiing in Lake Tahoe; Heavenly, Squaw Valley and North Star.
Hugging the picturesque southern shores of majestic Lake Tahoe, Heavenly offers some of the best skiing in Lake Tahoe and more than lives up to its name. The largest of the resorts at Lake Tahoe, Heavenly has an impressive 94 runs reaching up to a height of 3,060m. Although the slopes tend to be mainly intermediate, there are some serious off-piste and expert runs too, including the epic Skyline Trail, which skirts the immense Milky Way Bowl on the upper reaches of the mountain.
The views from Heavenly are something to behold. The resort straddles the state line between California and Nevada and views from the summit stretch out over glistening Lake Tahoe on one side and the Nevada desert on the other. The town benefits from Nevada’s casino culture, offering a unique nightlight combining buzzing bars and huge casinos.
Situated in 19 acres of pristine woodland, Hotel Lakeland Village, a condo property, is an ideal spot for a romantic ski getaway. Alternatively, The Lodge at Edgewood, located by the water-front offers fabulous views, luxury accommodation and a lake-side swimming pool.
Squaw Valley put Californian skiing on the map when it hosted the Winter Olympics in 1960. Popular with West Coast celebrities, the resort has earned itself the nickname of ‘Squallywood’ amongst residents. One of the largest ski areas in North America, it is included in the IKON ski pas
Advanced skiers will find some of the best skiing in Lake Tahoe here with tree-free bowls, steep chutes and terrain parks. Approximately 30% of the resort is black and double-black runs, which ensures plenty of nail-biting off-piste routes.
A highlight when skiing in North Lake Tahoe is spotting the far-reaching turquoise waters of Lake Tahoe. The Headwall run in Squaw Valley, underneath the Siberia Bowl, has incredibly scenic vistas as you descend. Don’t miss the views at the summit of Snow King and around the south side of KT-22.
Squaw offers a range of accommodation, from the luxurious Resort at Squaw Creek, with its unbeatable ski–in ski-out location in the heart of the village, to the Squaw Valley Lodge, which can accommodate parties of all sizes – ideal for families.
Squaw Valley’s SnoVentures Activity Zone snow tubing, snowmobiles and fire pits for roasting marshmallows. Take the Aerial Tram ride to the High Camp pool and hot tub, surrounded by the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains and views across Lake Tahoe.
On the more low-key north side of the lake, Northstar is one of the quieter of Lake Tahoe’s ski resorts and the ideal ski area if you’re looking for the Tahoe experience without the crowds. The resort is well provided for in terms of accommodation with the Hotel Hyatt Regency and the Hotel Iron Horse Lodge, both slopeside. Northstar’s compact size means that each hotel provides easy access to the slopes.
Northstar resort is known for its excellent terrain parks and has even won awards for its meticulous piste grooming. The resort provides a wide range of Platinum experiences that can be added on to any ski trip. The Platinum Pass allows holders to skip the lift queues, so you can spend more time skiing powder. Beginners can hire a Platinum guide for a full-day ski lesson, with lunch at a top-rated restaurant included in the price. Also included is a Platinum Tōst, a free glass of champagne at 2pm at the little mountain hut off East Ridge. The resort is also included on the EPIC ski pass.
Northstar offers the best skiing in Lake Tahoe for families. The resort offers a wide variety of activities including skating, sleigh rides and tubing that are fun for the whole family. Minor’s Camp offers on-site childcare, and the resident chefs offer complimentary s’mores – the American version of toasting marshmallows on an open fire – every afternoon.
If whizzing down steep trails isn’t your style, North Lake Tahoe has the most concentrated area of groomed snowshoe and cross-country landscape in North America – you’ll find 40km of groomed trails in Northstar.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the best skiing in Lake Tahoe, please speak to our experts on 0207 471 7700.