The North Lake Tahoe ski area is comprised of 12 ski resorts, our favourites are Squaw Valley and Northstar. Ski scenic tree runs that overlook Lake Tahoe, which is the largest freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The lake straddles the California and Nevada border and is wedged between Tahoe and Eldorado National Forests.
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.
North Lake Tahoe, known by locals as the real Lake Tahoe, has a laid-back atmosphere. A string of 10 small towns and hamlets along the shoreline, it is quieter than the casinos and nightlife of South Lake Tahoe. The towns exude typical Americana, lined with historic buildings that house cafes, restaurants and ice cream parlours.
Fine-dining restaurant Manzanita at the Ritz-Carlton has a sleek interior and classic dishes are made with seasonal ingredients. The chef’s table and tasting counter is a private dining room, perfect for a special occasion. At Alibi Ale Works’ craft brewery, water from Lake Tahoe is used in the core beers, including citrusy pale ale and roasty porter.
One of the largest ski areas in North America, Squaw Valley is also included in the IKON ski pass. Squaw Valley put Californian skiing on the map when it hosted the Winter Olympics in 1960. 20 years later, the legendary ski film maker, Warren Miller, added to the valley’s fame with clips of skiers leaping off Squaw Valley’s cliffs.
The tree-free bowls, steep chutes and terrain parks are heaven for advanced skiers. 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. If you reach the summit of Granite Chief on a clear day, try to locate the lofty peaks of Mount Diablo.
Northstar resort is known for its excellent terrain parks, and has even won awards for its meticulous piste grooming. Included in the EPIC Pass – one ski pass that includes an incredible 69 ski resorts around the world – you have unrestricted and unlimited to this North American resort.
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.
Northstar is child-friendly and has 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 S’mores Chefs offer complimentary s’mores – the American version of toasting marshmallows on an open fire – every afternoon.
Squaw Valley’s SnoVentures Activity Zone snow tubing, snowmobiles and firepits 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.
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 at Northstar and an additional 18km at the Squaw Creek. Heading into the countryside, avid Nordic Skiers can explore 100km of trails at Tahoe Donner’s Cross Country area and a whopping 124 acres in the North Tahoe Regional Park.