New Editor's Note: These reviews reflect one man's opinions. And i'm not that man, and he doesn't really want to get into a big argument over it. But hey, if you've got a problem with anything, drop me a line, and we'll talk: firstname.lastname@example.org
1 1/2 2 3 4 5 6 days Alpine Meadows $50 $38 $94 $141 N/A $235 N/A Bear Valley $37 $28 $68 $99 $127 N/A N/A Boreal $31 $20 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Diamond Peak $38 $28 $73 $105 N/A N/A N/A Dodge Ridge $39/$25 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Donner Ski Ranch $25/$15 $18 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Heavenly $54 $38 $104 $153 $200 $245 $288 Homewood $38 $28 $73 $99 N/A N/A N/A Kirkwood $46 $36 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Mt. Rose $42 $34 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Northstar at Tahoe $49 $35 $92 $130 $171 $211 $252 Sierra-At-Tahoe $46 $33 $80 $116 N/A N/A N/A Soda Springs $20 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Squaw Valley USA $52 $35 $94 $138 $180 $220 $258 Sugar Bowl $48 $33 $85 $120 N/A N/A N/A Tahoe Donner $26 $15 $72 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Most places _don't_ offer cheaper rates during weekdays, but rather special deals for certain days of the week (like 2-for-1 Wednesdays, etc.)
A much more elaborate listing of prices, discounts, and other information is available at http://www.slidingonthecheap.com/
Squaw Valley ------------ Base Elevation: 6200' Vertical Rise: 2850' to top of Granite Chief (9,050') Snow Conditions: (530) 583-6955 Information: (530) 583-6985 Lodging Reservations: (800) 545-4350 Website: http://www.squaw.com/ 30% advanced, 45% intermediate, 25% beginner Squaw Valley is the largest and probably the most popular north Lake Tahoe ski area. It offers a great variety of terrain and is well known for its advanced and expert runs. Beginners seem to like this place too because the easiest slopes are located up at 8200'. Squaw is not particularly strong on long intermediate "cruise" runs. However, if you like steeps, bowls or bumps, this is the best place to go in the north Tahoe area. Experts should check out the KT-22 and Granite Chief lifts. Intermediate favorites tend to be the Siberia and Shirley Lake lifts. Squaw Valley is a good place to go if you've got non-skiers with you. Non-skiers can ride the cable car to the High Camp Bath & Tennis Club at 8200'. There is an outdoor ice skating rink and bungee jumping tower there, as well as several bars and restaurants with outstanding views of the Sierra. You may be wise to avoid Squaw Valley in stormy or windy conditions. The area is not well sheltered, and many lifts close quickly when the weather gets ugly. The people who don't like Squaw Valley usually cite the lack of trees, unfriendly staff, and long lift lines on the beginner and intermediate lifts. Alpine Meadows -------------- Base Elevation: 6900' Vertical Rise: 1700' Snow Conditions: (530) 581-8374 Information: (530) 583-4232 or toll free (800) 441-4423 Website: http://www.skialpine.com/ 35% advanced, 40% intermediate, 25% beginner Some people love Alpine Meadows. Other people hate it and can't imagine going here when Squaw Valley is just a couple of miles away. Alpine is not quite as large as Squaw Valley (2000 skiable acres vs Squaw's 4300) but it is still a large ski area by most standards. Alpine Meadows also has a good variety of terrain, including something to please skiers of all ability levels. There are some outstanding expert runs off of the Scott and Alpine Bowl chairs. Fun top to bottom intermediate/advanced skiing can be done from the Summit chair (one of three express-quad chairs at the area.) When the snow is good, the backside Sherwood bowl is definitely worth skiing. Some people feel that the biggest difference between Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley is that Alpine provides an opportunity to ski in "tucked away" spaces, as opposed the bowls and moguls at Squaw. Local wisdom says to avoid Alpine Meadows in stormy or windy conditions, as it seems to blow harder here than anywhere else. Northstar ------------ Base Elevation: 6330' Vertical Rise: 2280' Snow Conditions: (530) 562-1330 Information: (530) 562-2286 Reservations: (800) GO-NORTH Website: http://www.skinorthstar.com/winter/ 25% advanced, 50% intermediate, 25% beginner Northstar is an outstanding area for advanced beginners and intermediate skiers because it offers a large number very long "blue" runs. In my opinion, many of the "black diamond" runs at this area should really be considered "blue" too. (Some locals refer to Northstar as "Flatstar".) If you like long, well-groomed cruiser runs, this is the best place to go in the Tahoe area. The cruise from the top of Mt Pluto down to the village is real thigh burner (~2 miles long.) Advanced skiers will find the best runs on the backside of the mountain, where they've recently upgraded the old triple chair to be an express quad lift. Northstar is considered the best place to go in bad weather because it is well sheltered and has lots of trees which help visibility on the slopes. Sugar Bowl ------------ Base Elevation: 6883' Vertical Rise: 1500' to top of Mt. Lincoln Snow Conditions: (530) 426-1111 Information: (530) 426-9000 Website: http://www.sugarbowl.com/ 45% advanced, 40% intermediate, 15% beginner Sugar Bowl is very popular with skiers from the San Francisco and Sacramento areas because is is about 1/2 hour closer to home than the three large north Lake Tahoe resorts (Squaw, Alpine, Northstar.) It is also cheaper to ski here than at the larger resorts. Sugar Bowl often has the best snow conditions in north Tahoe and despite being smaller, it offers more than enough terrain to prevent any skier from becoming bored for at least one full day. Sugar Bowl has a good reputation for providing a friendly, family-oriented atmosphere. The best advanced skiing at Sugar Bowl is usually directly below the upper half of the Silver Belt chair lift and, if you're willing to hike just a little bit, off the east face of Mt Disney. The best moguls are usually on the run called Market Street, accessible from the Disney chair. Intermediate runs, which tend to be very well groomed, are available off every chair lift at the resort. Beginners can have a great time skiing the green and blue runs off of the Christmas Tree lift. More intermediate skiing terrain has been added for the 94-95 season with the addition of the new Mt Judah express quad lift. Mt. Rose ------------ Base Elevation: 8260' Vertical Rise: 1440' Information and Snow Conditions: (702) 849-0704 Website: http://www.mtrose.com/ 35% advanced, 35% intermediate, 30% beginner Mt. Rose is the closest ski area to Reno, Nevada (22 miles away) so the crowd here tends to be made up of locals and visitors from the Reno area. (If you don't like Californians, ski here. ;-) Mt Rose is smaller than the big 3 north Lake Tahoe resorts, but it offers enough terrain for one day to prevent boredom for everyone except the most advanced skiers. Its high elevation and location on the eastern edge of the Sierra usually means it gets dryer, lighter snow than the typical "Sierra Cement". Not a good resort to ski at on windy days. Diamond Peak ------------ Base Elevation: 6700' Vertical Rise: 1840' Snow Conditions: (702) 831-3211 Information: (702) 831-1177 Website: http://www.diamondpeak.com/ 36% advanced, 46% intermediate, 18% beginner Formerly known as "Ski Incline" this ski area is located near the north east corner of Lake Tahoe in Incline Village, Nevada. Offers 675 skiable acres including a new area called Solitude Canyon for advanced skiers. Diamond Peak has a snowboard park area. Great views of Lake Tahoe. Diamond Peak offers some really good lift ticket deals for families. There is very little terrain at this area that is good for beginners so if you've got first-timers or "green runners" in your group, they might get bored here rather quickly. On the other hand, there is plenty of fun here for intermediates and above. If it is windy anywhere in the Tahoe area, it will probably be windy at Diamond Peak because of its western facing exposure. Boreal ------------ Peak Elevation: 7800' Vertical Rise: 600' Information: (530) 426-3666 Website: http://www.borealski.com/ 15% advanced, 55% intermediate, 30% beginner Located immediately off Interstate 80 at Donner Summit. 8 lifts. An all day ticket is good from 9:00am to 9:00pm (since some of the runs are lit after the sun goes down.) Boreal's snowboard park offers a half-pipe, quarter-pipes, slide-rails, barrels, etc. Convenient location and inexpensive lift ticket prices make Boreal popular with families with young children. Homewood ------------ Base Elevation: 6230' Vertical Rise: 1650' Snow Conditions: (530) 525-2900 Information: (530) 525-2992 Website: http://www.skihomewood.com/ 35% advanced, 50% intermediate, 15% beginner Homewood, located along the west shore of Lake Tahoe, offers 5 chair lifts servicing 1260 acres of terrain. Homewood has a good reputation with families (kids 8 and under ski for free) and snowboarders. (And the views of Lake Tahoe on are pretty darned cool. --DL) Tahoe Donner --------------- Vertical Rise: 600' Snow Conditions: (530) 587-9494 Information: (530) 587-9444 Website: http://www.aminews.com/donner/ 50% intermediate, 50% beginner A small family-oriented ski area located in the Tahoe-Donner area near Truckee, CA. Two chair lifts and one surface lift. Soda Springs -------------- Base Elevation: 6700' Vertical Rise: 650' Information: (530) 426-3666 Website: http://www.borealski.com/index.cfm?id=10 20% advanced, 50% intermediate, 30% beginner A small family-oriented ski area located in the Soda Springs area off Interstate 80 (same exit as Sugar Bowl.) Two chair lifts. The entire ski-area can be rented out for group functions on weekdays and on weekends in April. All day lift tickets from Soda Springs are also valid for night skiing at Boreal. Donner Ski Ranch ---------------- Base Elevation: 7031' Vertical Rise: 750' Information and Snow Conditions: (530) 426-3635 Website: http://www.donnerskiranch.com/ 25% advanced, 50% intermediate, 25% beginner Six chair lifts servicing 400 skiable acres on two peaks. Take the Soda Springs exit off interstate 80 and continue south past Sugar Bowl to get there. Night skiing is available Wednesday through Saturday.
Heavenly Valley --------------- Base Elevation: 6540' (at the California side lodge) Base Elevation: 7400' (at the Nevada side lodge) Vertical Rise: 3,500 Information: (702) 586-7000 Snow Conditions: (530) 541-7544 Reservations: (800) 2-HEAVEN Website: http://www.skiheavenly.com/ 35% advanced, 45% intermediate, 20% beginner Heavenly Valley offers over 4,800 skiable acres with enough variety to please just about any skier. When Mother Nature is kind to Heavenly and gives it a lot of snow, I think this is one of the best mountains anywhere to ski on. The views of Lake Tahoe are awesome. The problem is that Heavenly's location in the Sierra often seems to prevent it from getting large amounts of snow from the same storms that dump tons of snow on the other resorts. There are plenty of long intermediate runs on both the California and Nevada sides of the mountain. There is some very interesting expert skiing on the Nevada side in Mott Canyon and Killebrew Canyon. People who like to ski off piste between the trees will enjoy this resort a lot. If you drive to Heavenly, make sure you remember to get back to your car's side of the mountain before the lifts start to close. The California base lodge of Heavenly Valley is located in the town of South Lake Tahoe, within a couple of minutes drive or bus ride from the big casinos and a tremendous number of hotels and motels. This means the lift lines at Heavenly can get quite long, especially on weekends. Heavenly is frequently derided for the large numbers of irresponsible "tourist" skiers who show up here and for the large amount of poling or walking you have to do to get from one side of the mountain to the other. Kirkwood ------------ Base Elevation: 7800' Vertical Rise: 2000' Snow Conditions: (209) 258 3000 (415) 989 SNOW (510) 939 SNOW (916) 448 SNOW (408) 436 SNOW General Information: (209) 258 6000 Central Reservations: (800) 967 7500 Website: http://www.skikirkwood.com/ 35% advanced, 50% intermediate, 15% beginner Kirkwood offers over 2,000 acres of skiing with a good mix of runs for skiers of all abilities. During spring (icy) conditions, the best skiing in the early part of the day is usually found on the aptly named Sunrise lift. However, once the snow softens, the best black diamond skiing is accessed from the Wagon Wheel (a.k.a. the Wall) and Cornice chairs. Intermediates should avoid the Wagon Wheel chair... there is no easy way down. Kirkwood is about a 30 minute drive from the South Lake Tahoe resort hotels and casinos, assuming the road conditions are good. If it is snowing, it can take a lot longer than that because the route (Highway 89) takes you over a 9000' pass. Highway 89 closes frequently during storms. However, you don't have to go over this pass if you are approaching Kirkwood from the west on Highway 88. Note that Kirkwood has the highest base elevation of all the Tahoe areas. This usually means they have more (and better?) snow than the other resorts. Discount lift tickets can be purchased in advance through BASS tickets. Sierra at Tahoe ---------------- Base Elevation: 6640' Vertical Rise: 2212' Information: (530) 659-7453 Snow Conditions: (530) 659-7475 Website: http://www.sierratahoe.com/ 25% advanced, 50% intermediate, 25% beginner Sierra at Tahoe used to be called Sierra Ski Ranch. There are 9 lifts servicing 2000 acres of terrain. Located only a few minutes drive from the South Lake Tahoe hotels and casinos, this area is usually less crowded than Heavenly Valley, but offers enough variety for a full day of skiing. Lift ticket discounts offered to teenagers (13-19 years old).
Bear Valley ------------ Base Elevation: 6600' Vertical Rise: 1900' Snow Conditions: (209) 753-2308 Information: (209) 753-2301 Lodging Reservations: (800) 225-3764 Website: http://www.bearvalley.com/ 30% advanced, 40% intermediate, 30% beginner Bear Valley is not really a Lake Tahoe area ski resort. It is located on California Highway 4, about two hours drive east of Stockton. Bear Valley ranks itself as a "mid-size" ski area, the 8th largest in California. Bear Valley has been using low lift ticket prices to attract California skiers away from the Tahoe area. During the 97-98 season, an all-day lift pass is $35. Most of the best advanced skiing is located on the lower-half of the mountain (the parking lot and main lodge are at the middle of the mountain at 7,750'.) This usually means that advanced skiers will get bored here if the lower lifts are closed, a common occurrence during early and later parts of the season (or whenever there has not been much snow.) Dodge Ridge ---------------- Base Elevation: 6600' Vertical Rise: 1600' Snow Conditions: (209) 965-4444 Information: (209) 965-3474 Website: http://www.dodgeridge.com/ 20% advanced, 60% intermediate, 20% advanced Dodge Ridge is not really a Lake Tahoe area ski resort. It is located 30 miles east of Sonora, California off of Highway 108. 550 acres of terrain. 7 chair lifts and 4 surface lifts.